Tonight in Las Vegas, Christopher Daniels challenges for Adam Cole’s Ring of Honor World title, a belt that has eluded him in the 15 years of ROH’s existence. His frequent tag team partner and long-time “friend” Frankie Kazarian won’t be in Daniels’ corner though — he’s joined Cole and co. in the Bullet Club.
On the phone, Kaz is pragmatic about the betrayal, even if the 15th anniversary of ROH brings on lots of nostalgia.
The show, at Sam’s Town Live and available on pay-per-view, is “a time to celebrate what Ring of Honor is, was, and is going to be,” said Kazarian. He’s booked into a six-man match for a ROH TV title shot against Chris Sabin, Punishment Martinez, Cheeseburger, Silas Young and fellow Bullet Club member Hangman Page.
But most expect Kaz to be involved some how, some way in the main event, where his former partner aims for the company’s top spot. Kaz and Daniels have teamed off and on for years, both in TNA (as Bad Influence) and in ROH (as The Addiction), with lots of tag team gold along the way, and even working together on a comic book.
Kaz sees this as an opportunity to make it about himself.
“I’m on my own and I’m really not a tag team wrestler any more,” he said. “But I was a very accomplished singles wrestler for many years, so it’s not going to have to change in that respect. Going forward, I’m more focused on me than I have been in the past.”
On February 11, 2017, Kazarian turned on Daniels and joined Bullet Club during a ROH TV taping. While the Bullet Club has continuously grown and changed as wrestlers came and went from the various promotions, it’s always been about what’s cool.
“It’s all about attitude. There’s supposed to be some places where they’re quote/unquote hated, they’re loved. It’s kind of regional and depends on where you are,” said Kazarian. “A lot of people like the Bullet Club because it’s the cool thing to do. Let’s be honest, people are sheep by and large, and if it’s a cool thing and has some cool wrestlers in it, people are going to like it. You can ask someone why they like the Bullet Club and they can give you a very detailed explanation, and you ask the next person, and it’s, ‘Uh, I don’t know. Because they’re cool?’ It’s that sheep mentality and I have no problem taking advantage of that.”
He is especially proud that the turn on Daniels was not telegraphed or leaked ahead of time.
“One thing a lot of people have told me is that they didn’t see it coming, and in 2017, to actually surprise a wrestling fan who for the most part is obsessed with wanting to know everything before it happens, is difficult to do, so I’m glad we were able to do that,” he said. “This has been in the works for a while, and was kept a secret. I’m pretty happy overall with the reaction because most people, I would say, were shocked or surprised that I joined the Bullet Club, and that was the design and the result. It proves that we can still get you in 2017 whether you like or not.”
As for the reaction, it’s “been all across the board. It’s been positive, it’s been negative, there have been people saying, ‘Welcome to the Bullet Club, happy to have you.’ It’s been, ‘How can you do this to Chris Daniels?’ … I’ve been shown love, I’ve been threatened.”
The Bullet Club grew out of a faction in New Japan Pro Wrestling in early 2013, and Kaz hopes to be able to get more work in Japan as a result of the turn. Current Bullet Club members are Adam Cole, Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens, Cody Rhodes, Hangman Page, Kenny Omega, the Young Bucks (Nick & Matt Jackson), Tama Tonga, Tanga Roa/Loa, Yujiro Takahashi, and now, Kazarian.
Is Bullet Club in danger of becoming like the New World Order in WCW, bloated and brought down by the likes of Virgil/Vincent?
“I don’t think that Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall are in the Bullet Club. I don’t think that Lex Luger is, I don’t think Randy Savage is,” said Kazarian. “It’s apples and oranges, if you want to compare. If people just want to think sheer numbers, well, if you look at the members of the Bullet Club, it’s not like it’s just guys that are in it to be in there. Everyone in there is a very, very accomplished and terrific wrestler. What I bring to the Bullet Club is more experience than anybody else has in the Bullet Club. If you look at how long I’ve been doing this, I’ve been doing this longer than anyone else. Again, people are certainly entitled to their opinions, but if we’re going to go back to comparing everything with the NWO, I choose not to live in the past, I choose to look forward.”
Looking forward includes new arrivals to ROH, the Hardy Boys and Bubba Dudley.
“Guys like the Hardys and Bubba definitely make it more interesting just because of what they bring to the table, because they’re all legitimate superstars, and we’re talking Attitude Era superstars,” he said. “I don’t think anybody views those guys are just TNA guys, they view them as bonafide superstars who made their name at a time when wrestling was hotter than it ever has been and probably ever will be again. To me, those guys are all welcome additions. That’s the nature of pro wrestling, gone are the days of guys sticking around for a long time, especially Ring of Honor. When other opportunities pop up, they’re going take ’em. The wrestling business is constantly changing, constantly evolving.”
Fans can find out more about the 15th anniversary show at rohwrestling.com. Watch for a report on the pay-per-view here at SLAM! Wrestling after the show.