The Connections Between AEW’s Best Friends & NJPW’s CHAOS Stable, Explained
With the working relationship between AEW and New Japan Pro Wrestling in full effect, crossovers and interactions have been popping up all over the place. So far, AEW has seen Jon Moxley battle a pair of NJPW’s third generation in Yuji Nagata and Satoshi Kojima, and invasions from Bullet Club members KENTA and Jay White. But, perhaps the oddest manifestation of this relationship is the alliance between AEW’s Best Friends and NJPW’s CHAOS faction.
In reality, the connection between CHAOS and the Best Friends had years of history leading up to the two groups officially standing side-by-side, spanning multiple promotions. So, why exactly are Kazuchika Okada and Trent’s mother Sue on the same team?
The Formation Of The Best Friends
The story of the Best Friends begins in 2013 in the California-based indie promotion, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. Chuck Taylor had been a mainstay on the independent circuit for many years, having debuted in 2002 and made a name for himself in PWG, along with places like Chikara and Dragon Gate USA. Meanwhile, Beretta was fresh off of a run with the WWE, having been signed in 2008 and bouncing around between ECW on Syfy, SmackDown!, Superstars, and NXT before being released in January 2013.
One of the most influential independent promotions to ever exist, PWG’s marquee event is their Battle of Los Angeles tournament. The 2013 edition took place over two days, with the second featuring a multi-man tag featuring those eliminated in the first round. PWG has a precedent of giving names to even the most random and short-lived teams on their cards, and the one that included Beretta and Taylor was labeled ‘The Best Friends’. The name stuck, and the two became known as ‘Best Friends’, taking their tag team talents across the independent scene.
Beretta Became A Member of CHAOS
As well as appearing on the American independent scene, Beretta was also quickly recruited by New Japan Pro Wrestling, debuting for the company in the 2013 Best of the Super Juniors tournament. Having impressed, Beretta was brought back for a second tour later that year and was formally announced as having joined the company’s CHAOS stable.
CHAOS had been formed in 2009 as Shinsuke Nakamura led a coup on the Great Bash Heel stable. Originally a villainous group, CHAOS had grown into NJPW’s pre-eminent babyface faction, thanks to their rivalries with the Bullet Club and Suzuki-gun, by the time Beretta was recruited. Beretta was more or less a peripheral member of the faction until he struck up a tag team with Rocky Romero.
Though still tagging with Taylor on the American indies, Beretta and Romero formed the duo of Roppongi Vice in the spring of 2015, following the retirement of Romero’s former Forever Hooligans partner, Alex Koslov. Making their debut in Ring of Honor, Roppongi Vice went on to become a cornerstone of NJPW’s junior tag team division. Together, Beretta and Romero won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships four times, as well as the 2016 Super Junior Tag Tournament.
Best Friends Take Over The World
Throughout their time in NJPW, Roppongi Vice’s biggest rivals were The Young Bucks. With the working relationship between the two companies then in place, the feud spilled over into ROH. On a May 2017 episode of ROH television, Beretta and Romero found themselves at a numbers disadvantage against The Young Bucks’ trio with Hangman Page, only for Chuck Taylor to appear and even up the odds. Impressed with his reception, ROH officials brought in Taylor as a regular, with Best Friends now wrestling together on TV and pay-per-view.
Tiger Hattori, the veteran New Japan referee as well as a liaison for bringing in foreign talent, recognized the quality of Best Friends as a team. After catching his eye at one of the co-promoted ROH/NJPW shows, Taylor was brought into New Japan, and Best Friends was entered into the 2017 World Tag League. Though not an official member, Taylor would compete alongside CHAOS in multi-man tags, and strike up a wholesome friendship with Kazuchika Okada as he competed in New Japan for over a year.
Early 2019 put Best Friends at a crossroads. Beretta and Taylor had a decision to make, between continuing with NJPW or joining the upstart All Elite Wrestling. Though rivals in the ring, they invested in The Young Bucks’ vision of AEW’s tag division and were one of the earliest signings the company ever made. From there, Best Friends grew bit by bit. First, they were joined by Orange Cassidy, a long-time friend, and stablemate of Taylor in the Gentleman’s Club. Besides Beretta’s mother, Kris Statlander and Wheeler Yuta were the next members, both recruited through their connection with Orange Cassidy through Beyond Wrestling.
Once the working relationship between AEW and New Japan was made official, the bridge between the two stables was built. In November 2021, as well as appearing to do battle with long-time friend Bryan Danielson on an episode of Rampage, Rocky Romero passed on a message from CHAOS leader, Kazuchika Okada, that he wanted Best Friends in his stable. What started as a throwaway joke in PWG nearly a decade ago has since become one of the most popular acts in all of wrestling, and now, a supergroup with some of the best wrestlers in the world. The alliance has already seen the revival of Roppongi Vice, as well as “The Stone Pitbull” Tomohiro Ishii teaming with Orange Cassidy in the oddest couple ever. Who knows how much longer before Okada goes to the States and gets picked up by Sue?
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