Bullet Club was conceived by New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) in early 2013, following a positive fan response to a storyline, where Prince Devitt turned on his longtime tag team partner Ryusuke Taguchi to form a villainous partnership with Bad Luck Fale. Originally, Devitt and Fale were scheduled to go on as a duo, but the storyline was altered with them instead coming together with Karl Anderson and Tama Tonga to form an all-gaijin (foreigner) stable. Devitt came up with the name Bullet Club, which was in reference to his finger gun hand gesture and "Real Shooter" nickname and Anderson's nickname, "The Machine Gun". In naming the group, Devitt has stated that he specifically did not want the word "the" in front of the name or a name consisting of just three letters. Other names considered for the group included Bullet Parade and Bullet League. As of May 2016, the Bullet Club trademark is owned by NJPW. Behind the scenes, the four founding members of Bullet Club were best friends and travel partners.
The group has been compared to the World Championship Wrestling (WCW) stable New World Order (nWo). As a way of paying homage to the nWo, members of Bullet Club began using the stable's signature "Too Sweet" hand gesture. The gesture, also known as the "Turkish Wolf", had supposedly been used by Anderson and Devitt behind the scenes since 2006. In March 2015, WWE filed a trademark application for the hand gesture. Some, including Matt and Nick Jackson, suggested this was done due to Bullet Club's popularity. The application was ultimately abandoned by WWE. In August 2015, after Devitt had joined WWE as Finn Bálor, WWE released Bálor Club merchandise playing off Bullet Club. WWE recognized Bullet Club in the first week of January 2016, when discussing rumors about members of the stable joining the promotion, preceding A.J. Styles' debut in the WWE as a 2016 Royal Rumble contestant. In April 2016, the former Bullet Club tag team of Gallows and Anderson debuted for WWE, with their NJPW background again being acknowledged by the company, eventually forming The Club with Styles. On September 25, 2017, Bullet Club appeared outside WWE's Raw show in Ontario, California, spoofing a segment from 1998 where D-Generation X "invaded" WCW's Nitro. Afterwards, WWE sent members of the stable a cease and desist letter, claiming they were using the company's intellectual property, specifically the Too Sweet hand gesture, leading to merchandise featuring the gesture being pulled from stores. WWE writer Jimmy Jacobs was let go by the company for posting a photo on Instagram with members of Bullet Club, taken during the mock invasion.
nWo's founding member Kevin Nash has praised Bullet Club as a more athletic version of the nWo, stating that there is mutual respect between the two stables, and informally passing the torch from his stable to Bullet Club. Jeff Jarrett, who has represented both Bullet Club and nWo, has named in-ring ability as the main difference between the two stables, stating "Bullet Club is off the charts bell to bell more talented". Former NJPW wrestler and current WWE trainer Matt Bloom has stated that Bullet Club's popularity helped the promotion become global.
Bullet Club's matches often involve excessive outside interference, ref bumps and other tactics, which are more common in American professional wrestling and are rarely seen in Japanese puroresu, even in matches involving other villainous acts. This disregard for Japanese traditions and culture got the stable over as a top act. Bullet Club has garnered a substantial amount of worldwide popularity, especially among American professional wrestling fans. As of March 2016, the stable's original Bone Soldier shirt was the top selling shirt on the Pro Wrestling Tees store, outselling all top independent wrestlers and WWE veterans that are affiliated with the site. In 2017, Bullet Club shirts were made available at Hot Topic stores, where they also became big sellers, supposedly selling 100,000 copies in the first three months. Hot Topic executives reportedly became aware of Bullet Club after seeing the large number of the stable's shirts being worn by fans at WWE's WrestleMania 33. WWE then had to "awkwardly" tell the executives that the shirt was not one of theirs. Bullet Club's popularity in the United States has led to members of the stable working as fan favorites at events held in the country.
As Bullet Club is owned by NJPW, all wrestlers joining the stable, including those who have joined at Ring of Honor (ROH) events, have to be approved by NJPW booker Gedo.