Fale speaks on BULLET CLUB past, present and future
Earlier this year, BULLET CLUB turned seven years old. With the group since before their inception has been Bad Luck Fale, who sat down to give his thoughts on the history of one of wrestling’s greatest ever factions.
We weren’t wrestling like we did, we were wrestling like they did. We were losing our identity
–As it happened, Kenny Omega took leadership of BULLET CLUB at New Year Dash in 2016. In the end, it was clear you and he had very different visions, but at first, how did you feel about Kenny being in charge?
Fale: It was exciting at first.
–NJPW was expanding into America with Kenny and BULLET CLUB at the forefront.
Fale: Yeah, I thought this was our chance to take what we had built and bring it to the States, bring it to the world. It got us a lot of notoriety, as a brand, but…
–It didn’t turn out like you thought?
Fale: No. It wasn’t taking what we had built overseas, it was taking Kenny and the Elite’s vision overseas. We weren’t wrestling the way we did, we were wrestling the way they did. It really felt like we were losing our identity.
Becoming the Rogue General was when I started figuring things out for myself.
–While this was happening, at Dontaku 2017, you wrestled Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. For a while you had been in that enforcer role, but NJPW World ran a documentary series on you (watch free!), and it felt as if the machine was behind you.
Fale: I think this was when you saw me break from being the Underboss to becoming the Rogue General. This was where I started really figuring things out for myself.
–You’ve had several matches with Okada over the years and you’ve often been successful; what’s been your approach to wrestling him?
Fale: I always wanted to show him how tough I was. In a way, I wanted to show the world how tough he was. He’s wrestled a lot of great matches that were more American style, and I wanted him to wrestle more Japanese style against me.
–All the way back to wrestling’s origins in Japan we’ve seen Japanese wrestlers have to adapt and wrestle from underneath against big foreign heels.
Fale: And that’s gone away, don’t you think?
–You feel you can represent that old school role.
Fale: It’s not just a size thing, either. It’s about physical toughness. You do not want to get on my bad side, and that goes for the ring, and it goes for being at the bar, anywhere. I’ll beat the crap out of you.
–You’re not one for showmanship, in other words.
Fale: No. I’m not flashy, I’m certainly not going to flip (laughs), but I’ll beat you up, and that’s meant I’ve always been in demand, and I’ve always been a threat to guys like Okada or Tanahashi.
Why didn’t I win G1 Climax 28, anyway?
–There was a clear struggle for power in the direction of BULLET CLUB, and we saw that really surface in the 2018 G1.
Fale: You could say that (laughs).
–There was a lot of focus on Kenny Omega and the Elite side of BULLET CLUB, while you and Tama Tonga were taking things in a different direction.
Fale: Hey, I didn’t get pinned or submitted once in that tournament! Why didn’t I win?
–Well, you got disqualified a lot.
Fale: On the one hand it was a lot of fun, and then it was also that I didn’t give a f**k. BULLET CLUB was being taken in a direction I didn’t like, so I thought f**k it.
–Your comment in the pre-tournament press conference was a simple ‘f**k ‘em’
Fale: That’s it. Me and Tama just said to each other ‘let’s just have some fun’. We did, and I understand I almost got fired from it.
–The office wasn’t happy with some of your antics.
Fale: But doing that, it brought some of our fans back. People that were fans of AJ and Karl that had gone away because the style had changed under Kenny.
I knew from day one Jay could be another AJ, another Devitt
–That autumn, at King of Pro-Wrestling, Jay White joined BULLET CLUB, along with Jado and Gedo. You had an eye on Jay for a while, correct?
Fale: He’s a fellow Kiwi, so I was definitely following him.
–It felt like a natural fit for BULLET CLUB. Was that something you felt right away?
Fale: I thought so, yeah. Right from the start I could see he didn’t fit where he was. I thought from day one, with his looks and his smarts he could be another AJ, another Devitt. He’s a very smart wrestler, and he knows just how to make people hate him.
–You could say the same of El Phantasmo, and certainly of KENTA. How did you react to his attack of Tetsuya Naito at the Tokyo Dome?
Fale: That was magic. It was real hate, real heat, just like we had back in the day with Devitt. Something like that, you feel it in the air ‘holy s**t, everything’s changed again’.
When we’re back in Japan, we’re gonna hit it hard and we’re gonna have fun.
–We did this with Tama as well. I have a list of some BULLET CLUB members here, and I’d like us to play word association with every name.
Fale: Haha! Oh, s**t, OK.
–So, in chronological order, Prince Devitt.
Fale: Devitt? A**hole.
Fale: What? Who’s next?
Fale: A**. Hole. I’m enjoying this. I’ve got a good one for the next one. Who is it?
Fale: Big a**hole.
–Rey Bucanaero and La Commandante.
Fale: Who? They’re A**holes too.
–The Young Bucks.
Fale: Two a**holes.
Fale: Oh… Giant a**hole.
Fale: Little a**hole.
Fale: Japanese a**hole. Are you going to publish this?
–If the company lets us.
Fale: Make sure they do. Who’s next?
Fale: Canadian a**hole.
Fale: Hmm… Yeah, he’s an a**hole.
Fale: (long pause) what can I say about Chase? A**hole.
Fale: A**hole, bay bay!
Fale: Hanging a**hole.
Fale: The American A**hole.
–You’re a bit more careful about Haku.
Fale: Yeah, you have to be. He’s the man. Respect for Haku.
Fale: Oh, he’s an a**hole.
Fale: Young a**hole.
Fale: Muscly a**hole.
Fale: Master heater. There’s the respect again.
Fale: King a**hole!
Fale: Ozzie a**hole.
Fale: Another Canadian a**hole.
Fale: What sort of an a**hole is KENTA? Yeah, he’s an a**hole.
–What are BULLET CLUB’s plans when NJPW returns?
Fale: A lot will depend on the travel restrictions even when things are lifted somewhat. But when we are back in Japan, we’re going to hit it hard, and we’re gonna have fun. That’s all I can say.