Let’s not beat around the bush here, the rise of Bullet Club EVIL over 48 hours was a rushed mess. Two matches that could be described as mediocre at best (See my New Japan Cup Review) transformed EVIL from fifth-in-command in LIJ to IWGP Double Champion and star of Bullet Club, and it’s fair to say that this was jarring. Most fans took to twitter to voice their displeasure (including myself) and this result caused a lot of fan backlash.
This just makes no damn sense.
Naito please leave this cesspit and take Hiromu with you.@MadGeniusVal
Ok, we’re not getting another episode of the CKNF podcast, me and @MadGeniusVal are going to prison for the murder of Gedo@elcompactonewt
Nah fuck this. I’m NOAH for life now #njdominion@IWGPChrisBFC
Clearly fans weren’t happy at this reveal. However, the swerve does make some sense, in that we did need something fresh. However, this is like saying Inoki was right that he needed to change the Three Musketeers in the 90s, it still doesn’t defend the outcome. EVIL turning on Naito felt like wrong place, wrong time and he isn’t ready to be double champion yet. Bare in mind, before the suspension of New Japan, EVIL was NEVER 6-Man Champion, a title that has less prestige than Okada Pants. EVIL was a midcarder, nowhere near ready to be top star, and no amount of Bullet Club shenanigans can change that.
So how do we fix this? Well, I have three ideas that I believe would be much better than the disappointing EVIL shock/Dick Togo reveal. If you’re dead set on having EVIL be the main guy, the solution seems clear to me.
The main criticism of the EVIL turn was that it came out of nowhere. For months, it seemed like SANADA was destined to leave LIJ, with him being the only member of Los Ingobernables to not walk out of Wrestle Kingdom with a championship. He had been in 5 main events of big shows in 2019, which showed that he wouldn’t be overshadowed by Naito for long. There was no such tension with EVIL. He hadn’t main evented a show in ages, and had only challenged for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship once in 2017. EVIL was a midcarder. Making a midcarder a triple-champion isn’t a good look.
So why did it have to happen now? I get that, with a depleted roster, you wanted a new star to challenge, but these times mean that fans will be more accepting of repeat matches. Naito’s reign has been hampered by COVID-19, so why not re-establish him as the top champion by beating Okada again? That way, you know that Naito is the guy, and will make EVIL’s eventual victory even more shocking. In my world, instead of Yujiro attacking Okada, Minoru Suzuki comes out and attacks both men, before Goto comes and makes the save. Why? It’s Suzuki, he loves chaos. Notice how no LIJ members came out? Good, that’s important.
At Dominion, I’d have EVIL beat Suzuki in the semi-main event, this establishes him as a guy who has big matches. Whilst it wouldn’t be as good as the two proceeding matches, it would be an effective tool to make EVIL more of a threat. In his post-match comments, he expresses his interest in a Naito match, as well as a tag match with SANADA against Dangerous Tekkers.
Naito also beats Okada at Dominion and afterwards is challenged by Yuji Nagata. Nagata had 2 great showings against Suzuki and Okada, and a match between Naito and Nagata hasn’t happened since 2017, thus would feel fresh.
EVIL and SANADA would lose to Dangerous Tekkers, with SANADA taking the pin, whilst Naito beats Nagata.
G1 Climax 30
As for G1 30, the foreigners should be allowed back into the country by then, so I’d have Jay White win the G1 and challenge Naito for both belts at Wrestle Kingdom. Jay is definitely a gem, and will be a top star for the company in 5 years time, whether that’s as a heel or a face. I’d have EVIL put in a good showing, even pinning Naito in the block, but ultimately finishing second behind Tanahashi. However, he wouldn’t get a title shot because Naito was also beaten by Ishii, who faces him at Power Struggle.
At Wrestle Kingdom 14, BUSHI takes the pin for his team of EVIL and SANADA against Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa and Taiji Ishimori. Backstage, EVIL makes it clear he is fuming. In the main event, Naito defeats Jay White.
New Year’s Dash: Pull The Trigger
New Year’s Dash is the place you finally execute the turn. In this universe, EVIL has been established as a threat, pinning the double champion and getting to the finals of the New Japan Cup, as well as a strong G1 showing. EVIL also has a motivation to leave LIJ as Naito won’t give him a title shot and they lost at Wrestle Kingdom. New Year’s Dash also has a history of shocking moments, this could have been the next one. Naito had a strong title reign meaning you don’t have to revisit it later, I feel like this rebooking fixes most of the issues.
At New Beginning, there you have EVIL beat Naito and you go from there. I’m not completely against the idea of Bullet Club EVIL shocking the world, but it has to make sense first. We still don’t know why he left, other than the ‘Bullet Club is strong’ comments he made. That’s not a reason.
However, if New Japan is so impatient that they need a Bullet Club shock now, then why not use someone else?
Rise of The Bone Soldier
Taiji Ishimori is great. Admittedly, he’s no longer 2009 Ishimori, but he can still go. His New Japan Cup match with Okada was good, and I feel that if you wanted a Bullet Club shock, Ishimori would be a perfect candidate. He’s still a credible competitor, recently holding the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship and IWGP Junior Tag Team Championship, and with Hiromu breaking the Junior barrier this New Japan Cup, why not have a junior heavyweight shock the system?
You don’t even have to change much about the real life booking. Obviously, Ishimori beats Okada and Hiromu, and in the finals, he faces off with SANADA. As the obvious favourite going into the tournament, most people would expect him to pick up the win and set up an intra-LIJ clash at Dominion. However, with the help of Yujiro, Ishimori plants SANADA with the Bloody Cross to win.
As well as this, most of Dominion would stay the same too. Obviously, the match would be better, even if you still wanted the Dick Togo reveal that wouldn’t hamper the match itself. And Ishimori being double champion shakes up the foundations more than EVIL, with the added bonus that Ishimori is a legit competitor.
However, in my opinion, there’s a much better option than both of these. If you’re willing to wait for the gaijins to return, there’s one man who could shake up the foundation of the company to the core…
Bullet Club’s King Of The Jungle
That’s right. If you really want to make a splash, the best way to shake up the company is with Karl Fredericks recreating the Rainmaker Shock from 2012, joining Bullet Club and winning the Double Championships. Karl does have links with the Bullet Club, teaming with KENTA throughout the G1 Climax 29, and it’s not unrealistic to say that KENTA was impressed by the lion and would recruit him to Bullet Club.
Karl has all the tools to be a success. The look, the athleticism, the charisma and most importantly, the technical prowess that you can only learn in the New Japan Dojo. He’s already confirmed that he isn’t going to return to New Japan as a Young Lion, so why not capitalise on this. Remember, Karl is 30, so it’s not like he has 25 years on top ahead of him.
The G1 Climax (again)
In this universe, Naito beats EVIL with no Bullet Club interference, and rolls ahead into the G1. In the G1, Naito wins it all, this is to get around the whole Wrestle Kingdom issue. As he’s about to challenge Hiromu, Karl comes out and challenges him for the 2 belts at Power Struggle. Similar to Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom 6, Naito acts arrogant, but accepts. At Power Struggle, the match is great, and when Red Shoes is down, KENTA sneaks in and hits Naito with a GTS. Karl then hits his finisher and pins Naito to win, joining Bullet Club. Naito can then get his win back at Wrestle Kingdom before going on to face Hiromu.
This way, you get Karl over as a megastar similar to Okada at New Beginning 2012, and the reveal is much better along with the win being more shocking. Karl joining Bullet Club makes much more sense than EVIL, so I think New Japan have missed an open net there.
All in all, whilst I don’t hate the EVIL swerve, the execution could have been handled much better than it was. EVIL just doesn’t feel like a big star, and him joining Bullet Club came out of nowhere. I feel like I’ve offered up three alternatives here that would have been much more satisfying, as well as much more effective at getting a new star over.
What were your thoughts on EVIL winning Double Gold? Leave a comment below.