I spoke to Bullet Club member and IWGP Tag Team Champion "Machine Gun" Karl Anderson recently ahead of next week's huge Wrestle Kingdom 10 show. Anderson speaks about his friendship with NXT Champion Finn Balor, negotiating with WWE, NJPW's aggressive expansion into America, and several other topics. You can check out the full audio version of the interview at both the top and bottom of the page as well.
Be sure to join Wrestling Inc early Monday morning for live coverage of Wrestle Kingdom 10.
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The Bullet Club has blown up, even domestically. Did you expect something that huge when it started?
"When I look back on it, I guess I did. When it first started, I don't thing Ferg (Finn Balor), Tama and Fale and I realized how big it would get with the number of shirts we've sold and the positive feedback we've gotten, when those bone soldier shirts came out. We have so much chemistry and so much fun in the ring doing what we do, I should have realized it would be as big. It's been fun and it's still going. A lot of people think it's dying and there's too many people in it and all this other bulls--t, but it's still going good, making money and selling shirt. I was doing laundry earlier and realized I had like 15 different kinds of Bullet Club shirts. I was actually bragging to the #HotAsianWife earlier how well Bullet Club shirts in Japan were selling, and she was mad at me for not getting her one, and I said 'I couldn't get you one, because they sold out too fast, baby.'"
That shirt transcends wrestling, and now WWE has the Balor Club shirts. How did you feel about that?
"It's great. Ferg is one of my best buddies in the world. It's awesome. WWE is WWE. It's cool, it's huge, it's great, I have a lot of friends there. I loved it, I'm glad they made Balor Club. You never know, one day it might be cool to join Balor Club."
Speaking of, have you ever had conversations with WWE or TNA about coming in?
"Yeah, I've had lots of conversations. I don't want to give the cliche answer and say business is business. If the right offer came along, you never know what could happen. I love New Japan, I love wrestling in Japan and I love the fans and how comfortable I am over there. I've been there for 8 years, but if the right offer came, I'm not scared to come to America."
Your former tag partner Jason Albert is the head trainer at NXT now. How'd you feel about that move?
"Yeah, he likes to let me know that he's the head coach down there. He lets me know a lot. It's a smart move. He's always been a respected guy within professional wrestling, but he taught me a lot in Japan. He has an unbelievably smart mind for professional wrestling and I think it was a great move to make him head coach at NXT. I'm glad for him and happy for his family. He gets to be home more."
You have this big IWGP Heavyweight Tag Title Match at Wrestle Kingdom 10 on January 4, with yourself and Doc Gallows taking on Tomoaki Honma and Togi Makabe. Do these big shows ever get old? It looks like a blast.
"No, man! I'm still pumped. I was playing with my kids today and got a call from AJ Styles and realize we have Wrestle Kingdom next week, and I started getting pumped. There's going to be over 30,000 range there. It's awesome. Makabe and Honma are over as you're going to find, especially in Japan because they're on regular TV with their own shows in Japan, so they're even more famous and transcending wrestling in Japan. To face them in Tokyo, which is like f--kin' New York for WWE, it's going to be sweet, man."
New Japan brought in these new 6-Man Tag Titles this week. How do you feel about that?
"My first thought was that I didn't get it. I don't think anybody's seen a six-man title in a while. In New Japan you have a lot off 6 mans and a lot of 8 man, and me and Tama, Doc, whoever we're teaming with, we've had a lot of sweet 6 mans and 8 mans. If they're done correctly, they can be really sweet. The more I thought about it, I realized it was going to be more big matches for the bigger shows. It's gonna be more fun, there's some six mans that are going to have some bad ass matches. It's different, and it's cool."
You all could walk out with a ton of titles at Wrestle Kingdom 10.
"A lot of gold. I think AJ will be the IC champion after his match with Shinsuke. Bullet Club has been at the top for a couple of years now, and I just don't see it stopping."
If you all take home all that gold, it'll make for an interesting episode of Talk'N Shop. Tell these people about that.
"Talk'N Shop. Live on MLW Radio, literally the worst f--king podcast in the entire world. Rocky Romero, Gallows, myself, we've all had interesting lives and sat in hotels and drank beer anyway, so thought it might be cool to put a microphone in there and talk shop and tell stories. It's been a hit. I don't know how good it is, but I know we get a lot of messages from people saying they're cracking open their beer and listening to Talk'n Shop. You want to listen to 30 minutes of complete bulls--t, find our podcast."
You all also did a "Biz Cliz Party" DVD for Highspots which was funny. It was you all partying the whole time.
"Tama, myself and Gallows can't even bring ourselves to watch that yet. We just drank so much beer. We haven't seen it yet. I don't know if we're embarrassed of what we said or did, but it was fun. It was after a show in Charlotte, we just sat there and bulls--tted."
You and Doc Gallows have some of the greatest personality outside of the ring. I can only imagine what traveling is like, especially in Japan.
"Yeah, it's nuts. If someone could tap into Gallows' personality, he's one of the funniest brothers in the entire world. If you get me and Gallows together, we just feed off each other and go ridiculous amounts of ways where we go back and forth for 5 or six hours on bus rides and AJ Styles is yelling at us to shut up. You know how it goes."
NJPW has moved aggressively into America with PPV, English commentary, the AXS show. Being one of their bigger English language speaking stars, do they approach you about any of this for input?
"No they don't. They do their own thing. They know what they're doing, know what they wanna do, know where they wanna go. They have a vision and they're doing it. They don't ask me for advice, they don't need it, they seem to be doing fine. I don't know if down the line they may need advice from somebody in America, but I'd like to see where NJPW can go in the next 5-10 years. I think it can blow up if done properly."
Have you noticed any difference stateside since NJPW on AXS since the debut earlier this year?
"I haven't. I haven't got a chance to see it because I don't get the channel on my TV, so I haven't noticed a difference. When I come and do the ROH shows, and do the NWF shows for Roger Ruffen, who trained me, there will be 300 people there, and 150 Bullet Club shirts. They haven't seen me on AXS, some just on the internet or however they follow New Japan. My 90-year old grandmother was able to go to a friend's house and watch it in Detroit, and I saw a clip of me dropping an F bomb as AJ was going to the ring. I asked her if she heard that and she said no, and I said 'That's good, grandma."
You're also tagging with Doc Gallows in Ring of Honor in 2016.
"I love coming to Ring of Honor, I love the brothers there. Ring of Honor's been great to us. It's in Asheville, North Carolina about 15 minutes from the house I grew up at, so I'm pumped about that. It's always fan."
My family made me go to the Biltmore in Asheville, I was underwhelmed. The city is beautiful, though.
"Asheville is beautiful, the Biltmore's just a big ass house. You gotta take it for what it is."
Of course it's just a big ass house to you, you have a big ass house.
"It's the same size as mine here in Fairfield."
You took a move, the cutter, the RKO and made it your own in the Gun Stun.
"Randy Orton's one of the greatest wrestlers ever, he's f--king awesome. I always loved the Diamond Cutter when I saw it and obviously Randy Orton has taken it with the RKO and done what he's done with it. I knew I was about to get a nice push in New Japan and didn't really have a good finisher. I looked around the roster and realized nobody was using the cutter, man. I had a feeling it was going to be sweet. I hit it on Rocky Romero for the first time, came through the back and one of the guys said 'I love that move, keep it.' I think I've protected well enough where nobody's kicked out of it for 6 or 7 years now, people like it, they know when I hit it it's a 1,2,3. There's been a lot of people taking sweet bumps for me on out of nowhere spots."
You've worked with Global Force Wrestling lately too. Tell us about that.
"It's been fun. Whenever I'm asked about Global Force, I have nothing bad to say. It was awesome, tons of Bullet Club fans, relaxed atmosphere, the boys were cool, Jeff was cool, Karen was awesome, it's cool to see Sonjay. I love wrestling in baseball stadiums because it's fun to wrestle in a ballpark and outside. I wish nothing but the best for GFW. I hope they can catch on with whatever they're trying to catch on because I'd like to work for them as much as possible."
What would you tell a non-NJPW fan about Wrestle Kingdom 10?
"Wrestle Kingdom is the biggest event in Japan, it's like WrestleMania in Japan. It's cool to know there are other companies thriving besides WWE. You'll turn the TV on and see between 30-50,000 people inside this dome going on in Japan. NJPW is thriving and it's not going anywhere, they've got 15-16 foreigners under contract now that they're booking every single tour. They have an owner who has a lot of money and NJPW is doing great. You're going to see great wrestling. Hard hitting, high flying, probably the best wrestling in the world when it comes down to in between the ropes."
Tell the fans where they can follow you on social media.
"You can follow me on the ol' Twitter at @MachineGunKA. Follow me on there and I'll write some funny s--t sometimes."
Also guys, check out Karl Anderson's Pro Wrestling Tees page, over 20 designs up there. Great stuff. I also want to personally thank you and Dean Ambrose for bringing championships to Cincinnati, because they're the only ones we've had in a long, long time.
"Yes. Ambrose is doing great. Moxley is a superstar, and he's going to keep being a superstar, he's as good as it gets."
You can listen to the full interview in the video player above, the audio player below, or you can download it directly at this link.