CHAOS – Sympathy for the Anarchy

With Kazuchika Okada making the shocking decision to leave New Japan Pro Wrestling, many things will be impacted by the empty space he will leave.

Along with a place at the top of the roster, he leaves behind the faction CHAOS that has been his home since returning from an excursion in 2012.

Yet, the faction has seen loss and change before, and here’s a look at the history of one of New Japan’s oldest groups. From the ashes of Grand Bash Heel came…

[Photo: TheSportster]

Shinsuke Nakamura’s Heel Creation

Despite CHAOS being now known as a babyface faction, the origins were far from that when created by Shinsuke Nakamura. Prior to CHAOS, THE heel faction in New Japan had many recognizable names.

In April 2009, Toru Yano turned on the leader at the time, Togi Makabe, and cost him his match against Shinsuke Nakamura.

Throughout that month, all of the members except for Tomoaki Honma turned their backs on Makabe and joined Nakamura and Yano. On April 23, the new faction was officially dubbed CHAOS and began to grow.

Very quickly, the faction grew and started collecting gold. Nakamura defeated Makabe to win the IWGP Heavyweight title, Bad Intentions (Giant Bernand and Karl Anderson) won the IWGP Tag Team titles, and more success was seen.

As the faction grew, they had wrestlers for every division and to go for every belt, and, with their willingness to cheat and do anything to win, they became formidable opponents.

Kazuchika Okada’s Return To Success

While the faction was doing well, 2012 saw the complexion of CHAOS change completely with the return of young lion Kazuchika Okada.

After beating YOSHI HASHI in five minutes at Wrestle Kingdom 6, Okada came back with a bang and issued a challenge to IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi for his belt.

Knowing he couldn’t do it alone, Okada revealed he had joined CHAOS and adopted Gedo as his manager.

While success continued throughout the faction, Okada’s win against Tanahashi in February sent waves throughout New Japan in the named “Rainmaker Shock.”

It seems like CHAOS would always be at the top of NJPW, holding the top belts, whether it was singles or tag competition. 2012 also saw the faction grow, including more foreign stars in both divisions.

In particular, the tag division was huge for CHAOS, and Jr wrestler Rocky Romero dominated the Jr division with his tag partner Koslov.

It wasn’t all perfect for CHAOS, but they seemed to be dominating the company. Yet, a faction built on betrayal would always encounter the same fate.

The First Betrayal (Yujiro Takahashi)

In 2014, CHAOS saw mixed results at the start of the year. While Okada defeated Naito for his seventh defence of the IWGP Heavyweight title, Nakamura lost the Intercontinental belt to Tananashi at Wrestle Kingdom 8.

In February, Ishii also picked up gold by defeating Naito to become the NEVER Openweight Champion, making it his first title in the company.

At Wrestling Dontaku in 2014, AJ Styles went up against Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight title. With fellow members of the Bullet Club by his side, AJ was definitely a tough opponent.

For many fans, Okada had proved he could beat the legends in the industry. Yet, this match turned sour when CHAOS member Yujiro Takahashi turned on the faction, helped AJ Styles win the title, and became the newest member of Bullet Club.

At Wrestling Dontaku in 2014, AJ Styles went up against Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight title. With fellow members of the Bullet Club by his side, AJ was definitely a tough opponent. For many fans, Okada had proved he could beat the legends in the industry.

Yet, this match turned sour when CHAOS member Yujiro Takahashi turned on the faction, helped AJ Styles win the title, and he became the newest member of Bullet Club.

It was only the first betrayal, but considering how the faction was created, Yujiro’s actions seemingly predicted the future for CHAOS years in the future.

[Photo: Voices of Wrestling]

Okada’s Rise To Leadership

In 2015, NJPW was shocked when Shinsuke Nakamura announced that he was leaving the promotion he had called home for so long to go to WWE.

While there was no official ceremony, after retaining his IWGP title at Wrestle Kingdom, it was only right that Kazuchika Okada took over CHAOS.

The start of the year focused on building on the success the faction had seen and also expanded. Okada’s first plan was to recruit Hirooki Goto, and it started after their main event match. At first, Goto refused, and this went on for several months.

Yet, it wasn’t until 2016 that CHAOS grew, and in more ways than just one. On March 3, it was announced that British wrestler Will Ospreay had become the newest NJPW roster member and part of CHAOS.

It had all stemmed from the Global Wars event in the UK, where Ospreay faced Okada in a historic match, and the Rainmaker saw that he was a star.

In the same month, after the final of the New Japan Cup, Goto finally accepted Okada’s proposal after saving him from a Los Ingobernables de Japon assault.

At this point, CHAOS was as strong as ever, with a strong presence in every part of New Japan, whether it was heavyweight or junior, singles or tag competition.

New Title Dominance

With CHAOS as full as ever, Okada not only proved his own success, but the other members followed. Throughout the years that followed, it seemed like all members of the faction had gold around their waist at some point.

Whether it was Okada as IWGP champion, Ospreay as IWGP Jr champion, Roppongi Vice as IWGP Jr tag champions, and even Jedo and Gedo taking the GHC Jr tag titles, CHAOS was THE faction.

Other members of the faction also achieved success, whether it was Goto winning tournaments or dominating the NEVER division and the debut of Roppongi 3K (SHO and YOH), who returned from excursion and made their way to the top of the Jr tag division.

In particular, in 2018, CHAOS saw a new member join in the form of former young lion Jay White. Coming back from excursion, Jay knew he needed backup to help make his way to the top, and CHAOS was that place.

Despite losing to Tanahashi in his match at Wrestle Kingdom, Jay shocked fans by beating Kenny Omega for the IWGP United States title.

Within the first half of 2018, the faction was covered in gold, and CHAOS’s dominance was the strongest in the company.

Jay White’s Betrayal

While Jay White seemingly fitted in with CHAOS, he always seemed to stand out, whether it was his attitude in the ring or even his black ring gear.

In particular, his words from the Wrestle Kingdom 12 press conference still sat in the back of fans’ minds as White explained that he would challenge Okada for his title despite faction allegiances.

White made it clear that while he needed a faction, his own personal interests and success were always going to be more important.

After CHAOS suffered losses at the Destruction event, Jay White attacked both Tanahashi and Okada after they had fought for the Wrestle Kingdom 13 contract.

While White’s betrayal wasn’t surprising, fans and the members were shocked when Okada took the chair off White and attacked Okada himself.

Gedo had “created” the Rainmaker. This was seen as the ultimate betrayal as he declared Jay White the “True Winner” of the G1 tournament. It was obvious that Jay had betrayed CHAOS.

Jay White’s persona could’ve easily seen the wrestler go it alone. However, at King of Pro-Wrestling, when White and Gedo (joined by fellow CHAOS member Jado) attacked Okada with the Bullet Club OG members, he found his new home.

CHAOS And Hontai

At this time, Jay’s betrayal and seeing long-time members Gedo and Jado also leave CHAOS saw the tides of New Japan change.

CHAOS had always been its own entity with a strong identity. With Jay White’s actions and his desire to change the complexion of New Japan as the new Bullet Club leader, CHAOS found an unlikely ally in the members of New Japan’s home unit (known as Hontai).

The big moment that saw the tides turn was in November 2018. One of the most historic rivalries in the company had been between Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi.

Yet, with a common enemy in Jay White, the world was shocked when the two tamed together during World Tag League against Bullet Club.

From this moment, there seemed to be a mutual respect between the two factions and saw them teaming together a lot more, with unexpected and exciting combinations.

More Betrayals Weaken CHAOS’s Impact

Even without White, CHAOS was still thriving, gaining new members and also continuing to win titles. It’s not surprising that the future of CHAOS started to replicate its beginnings.

In 2020, Roppongi 3K was still a strong team. Yet, the team’s momentum was lost after YOH picked up an injury in August 2020 that made them relinquish the belts.

While SHO performed as a singles star until his partner’s return in 2021, something was missing.

The pair kept picking up losses, and in particular, YOH was on a losing streak that saw him take three straight pins in the Super Jr Tag League final, the tournament they had won three times in a row.

During the tournament, Roppongi 3K lost their fourth tournament match to El Desperado and Kanemaru. In particular, fans were shocked when SHO chose not to help YOH escape a submission hold from El Desperado.

When the match ended, SHO attacked his long-time partner and friend, disbanding the team. Yet, it wasn’t until a month later, on September 1, that SHO defeated YOH in a singles match and accepted a Bullet Club shirt from EVIL to join House of Torture.

While the past few years of CHAOS had been riddled with betrayals and members leaving, they weren’t that shocking. Yet, one moment truly shaped the instability of CHAOS, and it was the departure of Will Ospreay.

In 2020, the world was at a standstill because of the pandemic. After becoming a heavyweight earlier in the year, Will Ospreay was set to enter the New Japan Cup.

Yet, after it was canceled and then moved to June, the travel restrictions meant that Ospreay was unable to enter.

When he finally returned in September, he participated in the G1 Climax. On one of the final nights, he went up against Kazuchika Okada. Yet, he only won after some interference from Bea Priestly and returning young lion Great O-Khan.

After the match, Will Ospreay turned heel and left CHAOS after attacking Okada, before creating a new faction called the United Empire.

Should CHAOS disband? Okada’s Actions Say It All

After Ospreay left, CHAOS was seemingly at its weakest. Although the faction still had champions and some of the strongest wrestlers in the company, they had lost the identity that had made it successful.

It didn’t help that they lost another member, with Robbie Eagles leaving after four years with the group and heading to TMDK.

BISHAMON was still leading the tag division until Wrestle Kingdom 18, and Okada and Ishii were still raising the prestige of the NEVER 6-man championships.

It was this success that kept CHAOS hanging on and being loved by fans. Yet, one decision has threatened to break all the hope that fans still had on CHAOS continuing alone in New Japan.

On January 19, Kazuchika Okada shocked fans by revealing he was leaving New Japan at the end of his contract; all hope seemed lost.

For many, CHAOS was Kazuchika Okada, and he was the reason they had survived despite all the hardships. Although the state of New Japan without Okada was being questioned, the future of CHAOS is equally as unsure.

The Future

While CHAOS has not been the star-studded faction it was once known for, Kazuchika Okada’s leaving could be life-changing for the faction.

It could be the catalyst for the members of the faction going their separate ways. Yet, with the remaining members of Goto, YOSHI HASHI, Ishii, YOH, and Yano as close as ever, it could also be the perfect opportunity for a new star.

Changing directions and going back to their heel roots could be one option. But, with so many new stars making their way up the ranks, a change in formation and fresh blood could be the chance for rejuvenation.

In 2018, CHAOS held all the titles with a mix of veterans and new blood. 2024 could be the perfect chance to see that again.