Bullet Club is “for life” but, on this occasion, it may not need to be.
Do Karl Anderson and the Bullet Club need each other?
The Bullet Club is currently stacked, and the man known as the Machine Gun isn’t somebody that needs to be forgotten about among the pack – he can stand out on his own merit.
Karl Anderson made a name for himself in New Japan long before the formation of the Club. During that time he was not just another name on the roster – he established himself and broke records.
Before Bullet Club
In 2009, Anderson made his G1 Tag League (now World Tag League) debut alongside Giant Bernard as the team Bad Intentions. They won the tournament and, although unsuccessful in gaining the IWGP Tag Team Championship, they did win the titles in June 2010.
Bad Intentions was the most dominant tag team in New Japan history; they smashed the record for the number of days as champions and total defences, holding the titles for a staggering 564 days while accumulating 10 defences in a single reign.
While IWGP Tag Champions they defeated NOAH’s Takuma Sano and Yoshihiro Takayama to become GHC Tag Team Champions, defending that title twice over 218 days.
When Giant Bernard (A-Train/Albert/Lord Tensai) left for WWE, Anderson put a focus on his singles career in Japan.
Most notably, he made the G1 Climax final in 2012, becoming the first foreigner to do so since Rick Rude in 1992 (although at that point it was single elimination and not round-robin like we know today).
Albeit unsuccessful, Anderson went on to challenge Shinsuke Nakamura for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship and Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
Tag team wrestling wasn’t at the forefront of his agenda, but in 2012 he won the World Tag League again, this time with Hirooki Goto.
Bullet Club Reigns Supreme
Bullet Club’s formation in May 2013, undoubtedly elevated Anderson to the next level, as it did for everybody involved. However, it could be said that he found the most in-ring success prior to his Bullet Club days.
When teaming with Doc Gallows, under the Bullet Club banner, the pair had three reigns as IWGP Tag Team Champions, with their most successful run being their first in which they held the titles for exactly a year, winning them at Wrestle Kingdom 8, then losing them at Wrestle Kingdom 9.
They also won the World Tag League in 2013, back to back wins for Anderson, and the 3rd time he lifted the trophy in his career.
In the singles arena, Anderson challenged Nakamura for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship again, and Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, but he came up short on both occasions.
Anderson then debuted for WWE in April 2016.
Machine Gun’s Second Round
According to his social media, Anderson is set to return to Japan, and when he does it is a chance to reinvent himself.
The Bullet Club shadow followed him to WWE where he was paired with Gallows and AJ Styles as either The Club or The O.C. (Original Club).
In WWE, he won the RAW Tag Team Championship twice, reaffirming himself as one of the all-time great tag team wrestlers.
Bullet Club put Anderson, and almost anybody who was involved with the group, on the global map.
The group transcended New Japan and became a wrestling sensation that is still exceedingly strong today, but there may not be much traction left for Anderson to gain by now re-joining Bullet Club.
Would the current Bullet Club leader Jay White want Anderson?
There are stories waiting to be told if Anderson does not simply fall back into place, and there are storytellers in and outside of the New Japan ring who have the talent to tell them.
Is there room for another tag team wrestler?
Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa have essentially run the heavyweight tag division for years, as Guerrillas of Destiny.
Anderson has constantly proved himself in the tag team world, so should singles action now be the focus?
Singles gold escaped him during his first tenure with NJPW, and he’d be remiss to make the same mistakes twice. The space needed for him to vie for singles titles might be lessened if he joins Bullet Club, given Jay White, KENTA and, to an extent, Bad Luck Fale and Chase Owens are all currently on the hunt.
Anderson joining the likes of L.I.J seems outlandish, but he would be a welcome addition to Chaos, a group he allied hismelf with during the early stages of his NJPW career.
The tag team specialist could help bring the IWGP Tag Team Championships back to the faction for the first time in three years.
A move to Suzuki-Gun, while more difficult to imagine, does carry weight given the recent loses of their heavy hitters in Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer.
Four time IWGP Tag Team Champion. GHC Tag Team Champion. 3 time World Tag League tournament winner. G1 Climax finalist.
Anderson will be a welcome addition to the NJPW roster once more, regardless of who he decides to ally himself with.
The Machine Gun is coming home.
You can find me on Twitter @CiaranRH. Thanks for reading.