We, as in us as people, by our very nature are social creatures whether we like to admit it or not, we instinctively form groups socially from school, college, work, politically or socially. It’s in our DNA, we are tribal since our primitive days in caves or whatever. So it’s no surprise that these ideas of groups, stables or units have permeated into wrestling. And these groups have a number of functions and here I shall be going through a few of them.
Back before Bullet Club was an economic powerhouse, having numerous tshirts for sale in American and Canadian Hot Topic stores, it was born after Prince Devitt turned on Rysuke Taguchi and joined up with fellow Gaijin wrestlers and friends, Karl Anderson, Bad Luck Fale and Tama Tonga, later adding The Young Bucks and Doc Gallows. In 2014, Devitt left for WWE and AJ Styles came in. Bullet Club would become a home for Gaijin typically, Kenny Omega, Chase Owens, Adam Cole, Cody, Marty Scurll, Hangman Page, Tanga Loa, Hikuleo would fill the ranks at some point, there have been two Japanese members of BC, in Yujiro Takahashi, who turned on CHAOS and Taiji Ishimori who was introduced by Tama Tonga following his resignation from NOAH. It was around the time of Gallows, Anderson and Styles departure to WWE that Bullet Club became less about ‘bad ass’ foreign heels and more about how much merch you could sell, becoming almost mainstream in the process with the success of Being The Elite. Currently, the group is split between two factions with Elite vs OG, almost as if both the wrestlers and New Japan are unwilling to fully commit to ending this cash cow. Obviously, the group generally remains incredibly popular and lucrative.
In Dragon Gate, groups are formed to separate faces and heels. Ever since Toryumon Japan, they’ve done it this way and is more natural approach than grouping all the gaijin together. Right now, Natural Vibes, Tribe Vanguard, MaxiMuM and the newly renamed R.E.D, formerly Antias, are the units currently operating. R.E.D is the sole heel group in the promotion, all the heels are currently affiliated with the group. The renaming occurred after Shingo Takagi announced he was turning freelance in October, he had his last Antias match a few days before the Dangerous Gate event in Tokyo, where R.E.D would debut with a new member, announced as KAZMA Sakamoto by Eita as they faced off against Natural Vibes, probably the premier face group at the moment, singing and dancing their way to ring led by Kzy. Currently, numbers wise, MaxiMuM is the weakest, despite Masato Yoshino being the Open the Dream Gate champion, he, Doi and Jason Lee make up the MaxiMuM ranks following the defection of Big R Shimizu and Ben-K to then Antias, now R.E.D. While it is generally face v heel groups in Dragon Gate, disbanding stipulations and unit warfare. There has been instances of the Dragon Born, those trained under the Dragon Gate company, going against the Toryumon generation, those who were trained by Ultimo Dragon or under the Toryumon banner.
The idea of generational factions has appeared again this year, not in Dragon Gate but in Pro Wrestling NOAH, separated by the old generation going against the younger, The Veteran Army, consisting of Takashi Sugiura, Naomichi Marufuji, Akitoshi Saito, Muhammad Yone, Quiet Storm and Masato Tanaka versus the Super New Generation Army, Kenoh, Katsuhiko Nakajima, Masa Kitamiya, Kaito Kiyomiya, Go Shiozaki and Atsushi Kotoge. They have been warring over the heavyweight belts since Navigation with Emerald Spirits, currently both are in possession of the Veteran Army with Sugiura being the GHC Heavyweight Champion and Marufuji & Saito being the GHC Tag Team Champions. The war has been ongoing and Nakajima is Sugiura’s next challenge.
These are but just a few types of groupings I’ve noticed from my time watching, and other groups do fit these same parameters, they were just examples I choose. But what about us as people that makes us choose certain groups, sometimes maybe we go for a babyface but we cheer someone else based on our own preferential social groupings? For instance, I’m a ‘metal head’, things like Natural Vibes ain’t my thing, despite it’s awful name I’ll usually go for R.E.D or other goth/metal looking groups like Ratel’s in NOAH, L.I.J/Suzuki-gun in NJPW and Oedo Tai in Stardom.
Who do you cheer for? Is it based off your style preferences as a person? Or is a more traditional setting like face or heel?
This Week in Puro;
~Shigehiro Irie has announced he’s going freelance, he will still have dates with DDT when available. This means the end of the Renegades faction.
~KAZMA Sakamoto was revealed as the new heel member for Antias/R.E.D at Dangerous Gate, also on the show Dragon Kid defeated Eita for the Open the Brave Gate championship, while BxB Hulk & YAMATO retained the Open the Twin Gate against Mochizuki & Skywalker. Yoshino also retained the Open the Dream Gate against Naruki Doi. Ben-K was forcibly announced by R.E.D as the next challenger upon Yoshino.
~Mayu Iwatani won the Stardom 5 Star Grand Prix.
~YO-HEY has reached his second final of the year, after winning the Global Jnr Tag League with HAYATA, he faces Kotaro Suzuki in the final of the reinstated Global Junior League.