History has repeated itself, and many fans encountered déjà vu as members of the Bullet Club “invaded” the WWE Raw live event outside of the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Canada (Heisel, 2017). The Bullet Club members (Cody Rhodes, Marty Scurll, the Young Bucks, Hangman Page, and Brandi Rhodes) decided to recreate the epic moment that happened in 1998 where DeGeneration X (Triple H, X-Pac, Chyna, and the New Age Outlaws) invaded WCW Monday Nitro (Heisel, 2017). The Bullet Club created a nostalgic moment, gathering fans and showing up in a stretch Hummer (Heisel, 2017). Highlights of the "invasion" were Cody Rhodes going word for word on Bill Pullman’s speech from Independence Day and their continued pleas to rescue Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, and Finn Bálor (former members of the Bullet Club) from the WWE (Heisel, 2017).
The day after the Bullet Club “invasion,” the Young Bucks were hit with an actual Cease and Desist order to stop them from using the “Too Sweet” gesture (Satin, 2017). The reason for the Cease and Desist letter could be from the fact that the Young Bucks and Bullet Club were using the gesture through different companies and producing merchandise of the product, or it could be the retaliation of the Bullet Club showing up at WWE’s live event (Satin, 2017). WWE claims that they bought the rights to the “Too Sweet” gesture back in 2001 (which there is no record of that) and if the Young Bucks continue to use the hand gesture, the WWE will be slapping them with a $150,000 fine (Satin, 2017).
So where did the “Too Sweet” gesture come from?
According to an interview held between Triple H and Kevin Nash, the “Too Sweet” gesture was created by the “The Kliq” (Kevin Nash, Sean Waltman, Scott Hall, and Shawn Michaels) to signify a symbol of unity or brotherhood (Laboon, 2016). The hand signal was first presented by the North Carolina State Wolfpack which was called the “Wolf Kiss” (Laboon, 2016). Nash brought it to the Sports Entertainment industry with “The Kliq” and called it the Turkish Wolf (Laboon, 2016). When “The Kliq” split to NWO (WCW) and DeGeneration X (WWE), Nash renamed it to “Too Sweet” (Laboon, 2016).
In 2006, two up and coming stars – Karl Anderson and Finn Bálor would use the “Too Sweet” gesture as anyone would a handshake or high-five, but it was their way to greet each other (Laboon, 2016). After Bálor won his match at a New Japan Pro Wrestling event, instead of high-five from Anderson, Bálor threw up the “Too Sweet” gesture and once again the gesture was brought to life as it continued to be connected to the Bullet Club (Laboon, 2016). The “Too Sweet” gesture represents a brotherhood of wrestlers who may no longer work under the same roof, but still holds a strong bond between them (Laboon, 2016). It remains a tribute to those wrestlers who paved the way and created personas and characters that would become a staple in the sports entertainment industry (Laboon, 2016).
The WWE doesn’t have an official trademark on the “Too Sweet” gesture although it seems they tried to put an application in with the United States Patent and Trademark Office back in March 2015 (Hausman, 2015). Since the application wasn’t tended to within the six months waiting period, the application was marked abandoned and dropped from the system (Hausman, 2015). The WWE had the opportunity to petition to reinstate by February 2016, but there is no information that it was made (Hausman, 2015). There is, however, another snag to getting the trademark as I said previously the North Carolina State University already holds a trademark to the “Wolfie” hand gesture (Beck, 2015). So, if WWE had obtained such a trademark, wouldn’t it confuse others with NCSU gesture? Would it be a waterfall effect where WWE would fine the Young Bucks $150,000 and North Carolina State University can turn around and sue the WWE? None of it makes sense, but what does is that the Young Bucks probably mean no harm in using the gesture for their well-being.
In the spirit of how pro wrestling operates behind the scenes, meaning that everything is a storyline, I feel that maybe the WWE is overreacting to everything that has been happening with the Bullet Club “invasion” and subliminal messages in social media. If they were serious about what the Bullet Club were doing, they would’ve sent all sorts of police and security to escort them off the premises. I’m sure that the WWE were aware that the “invasion” was going to happen, but maybe the Bullet Club went off-script in some way which is why the WWE felt that to let them learn their lesson. To show how mighty the WWE is, they sent a reminder (the Cease and Desist letter) that you don’t mess with the WWE.
Pro wrestling circuits and the WWE are for entertainment purposes only. I feel that this won’t be the last time that the Bullet Club will bump heads with the WWE and I can see a storyline building up from it. Just like how specific television series have cross-over episodes, it would be an excellent opportunity for the WWE to do somewhat of a cross-over with the Bullet Club. More recently, the popularity of the Bullet Club has spiked, with merchandise now being sold at Hot Topic and many fans turning to New Japan World Wrestling for more action and strong style type fighting, they could easily follow in the steps of NWO and DeGeneration X.
To answer the question, no, I don’t think the Bullet Club had any intentions of being a WWE copycat. I genuinely believe that wrestlers like the Bullet Club are paying homage to those who came before them and made way for opportunities to let their character shine and do what they do best, to entertain those who have love and passion for professional wrestling. The “Too Sweet” gesture runs a more profound meaning than a viral hand signal, it signifies the love and respect between those who have been in the business together and through thick and thin, they will always be brothers.
Beck, G. (2015). The Wolfpack/Kliq hand gesture has been trademarked… and not by the WWE. Wrestling News.
Retrieved from: http://wrestlingnews.co/wwe-news/the-wolfpackkliq-hand-gesture-has-been-trademarked-and-not-by-wwe/
Greer, J. (2017). The too sweet: If WWE sues Young Bucks, can NCS sue WWE? Last Word on Pro Wrestling.
Retrieved from: http://lastwordonprowrestling.com/2017/09/28/sweet-wwe-sues-young-bucks-can-ncs-sue-wwe/
Hausman, N. (2015). What is the latest WWE trademark? Update on the “Too Sweet” hand gesture trademark, list of WWE superstar appearances through mid-March. PW Insider.
Retrieved from: http://www.wrestlezone.com/news/657211-what-is-the-latest-wwe-trademark-update-on-trademark-on-too-sweet-hand-gesture-updated-wwe-superstar-appearances-through-mid-march
Heisel, S. (2017). The Bullet Club pulled a DX and invaded Monday Night Raw. UpRoxx.
Retrieved from: http://uproxx.com/prowrestling/bullet-club-invades-monday-night-raw/
Laboon, J. (2016). The ‘Too Sweet’ history of WWE’s most iconic gesture. WWE.
Retrieved from: http://www.wwe.com/article/wwe-too-sweet-hand-gesture-meaning
Satin, R. (2017). The Young Bucks hit with actual Cease and Desist from WWE over ‘Too Sweet’ hand gesture. Pro Wrestling Sheet.
Retrieved from: http://www.prowrestlingsheet.com/young-bucks-cease-desist-wwe/#.WeM6MxOPLUp