The Latest Episodes of INSIGHT with Chris Van Vliet
Dec. 7, 2021

Fred Rosser (Darren Young) On NJPW Strong, Prime Time Players, Block The Hate

Fred Rosser (Darren Young) On NJPW Strong, Prime Time Players, Block The Hate


Fred Rosser (@realfredrosser) is a professional wrestler currently signed with New Japan Pro Wrestling Strong and is known for his time in WWE as Darren Young. He joins Chris Van Vliet at his home in Los Angeles to talk about working for NJPW Strong, his dream opponents, working for WWE under the name Darren Young, his tag team with Titus O'Neil called "The Prime Time Players", his "Block The Hate" movement, being the first active pro wrestler to come out as gay, how that has changed his career and much more!

 

For more information on NJPW visit http://njpw1972.com

On wearing a New Japan branded jacket while filming a WWE documentary:

“The last time I wore this jacket [which is New Japan branded] was this past May with WWE. I was doing a Nexus uncut/uncensored documentary, they invited me and I said sure no problem. I came in with my New Japan jacket on, and before we started the producer said ‘Do you mind if you take off the New Japan jacket?’ So I’m like ‘So you are asking me to take it off? I hope not!’ I knew they were going to say it, so I said ‘Look I worked hard to get this jacket, and you guys have just inducted Jushin Liger into the Hall of Fame. This is supposed to be uncut and uncensored.’ Not only did I say that, I said ‘I just talked to John Laurinaitis, because he reached out to me about maybe doing a collaboration between New Japan and WWE. So let me just be me, this is supposed to be an uncut/uncensored Nexus documentary. Let me just be proud of this jacket. Then the producer said ‘No problem, you sold me on it.’”

More details on The Nexus documentary:

“Man I have worked hard for 10 or 11 years since Nexus, and they wanted to interview us guys. I am not some washed up wrestler, I’ve still got a lot left in the tank and I am proud of this. At the time when they did the interview I asked who they interviewed for this? I was one of them, there was Stu Bennett [Wade Barrett] and Daniel Bryan. So they ultimately shelved the documentary, maybe because of what I did and also because of Daniel Bryan going to AEW.”

On wanting the documentary to be released:

“I said to them ‘Come on man. Don’t rob the people of a good documentary.’ It was good, because I mentioned on the documentary that Daniel Bryan was not part of The Nexus. That’s coming from Wade Barrett, the leader of The Nexus. He [Bryan] was not part of it, he was part of the chaos we caused that one night, but the original were us. I know we are one on one right now, so don’t test me, I’m keeping the jacket on.”

On WWE reaching out for a possible partnership with New Japan:

“At the time when John Laurinaitis took over talent relations he reached out to old talent that he had hired, just seeing how things were. I said ‘Hey John, everything is going great. I’m with New Japan and doing my thing.’ And he goes [impersonates John Laurinaitis] ‘Yeah, you know, I did a run in All Japan.’ I told him that I watched his stuff and then he said about a possible partnership with New Japan and WWE. I said that’s great and that was that. Who knows what that relationship could have been, but that’s what he had told me. But never say never, bucket list for me is Daniel Bryan. We did original NXT and we trained together, but come to New Japan Strong. It’s a new show with New Japan and work me, put us on the map. That’s my challenge to Daniel Bryan. That forbidden door is so wide open.”

On starting the NJPW journey:

“Before this interview, I wasn’t doing much. I kept speaking into existence my goals and aspirations of working New Japan. I think it was probably September 2019 at a show in California where I ran into Lance Hoyt, who was still with New Japan at the time. He asked me how I was doing and I’m like I’m just keeping it moving and I’ve always had dreams and aspirations of New Japan. If we were at my place, I would show you the flyer he gave me about the New Japan show at The Globe Theater in November 2019, right before the pandemic.”

On the New Japan style:

“So I went to the New Japan show. It started at 7pm, I got there at 5pm, because I wanted to be able to feel the ring, meet the wrestlers and meet Rocky Romero, who is like my heart and soul. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be with New Japan Strong. So I sat there at the New Japan show, always intimidated in the style since I was a kid, it’s physical. So I watch the show in November 2019 from beginning to end, and the one question running through my head was do I fit in? After watching the show at the Globe Theater, I said to myself that I can hang with these guys and I can go and elevate these guys. At this stage in my career it’s about elevating guys and I can get my sh*t in. After the show I talked to Rocky Romero and I said ‘What do I have to do? Do I have to try out at the Dojo? Whatever it takes I will do it.’ that’s what my mindset was when I got signed in WWE.”

How the pandemic delayed things:

“The pandemic hit, and Rocky reached out to me in June or July of 2020. He asked me about working for New Japan Strong. I said ‘It’s a great opportunity, but we are heavy in the pandemic, so I’ll get back to you.’ He let me talk to my family, they are all doctors, and they assured me that if New Japan are all COVID compliant, then go for it. My family blessed me with this opportunity, so I called Rocky and said let’s do it.”

On acting aspirations:

“I moved to LA because I wanted to do some acting. The move was in August 2017 and I got released from WWE in October 2017, just before my birthday. I was very upset. I was hurt as well, I was injured in January 2017, came back to wrestling in August 2017 and was already moving out to LA. You just get that feeling, nothing lasts forever. I was out here developing a reel when the release happened. The goal can’t be money driven, you’ve got to suck it up and do the free stuff to develop.”   

On coming out to his immediate family:

“I came out to them 2 years before I came out publicly to the world [which was in 2011]. I came out to my immediate family, but I was nervous about my grandfather and what he would think. I said to my mom, because he saw it on the news ‘Mom, what did pop say about it?’ He said ‘I don’t give a damn if he’s green, yellow, brown, blue, that’s my grandson and I love him.’ We don’t talk about it but anytime that I am home, he’ll be like ‘Come on sonny. Let’s hit the town and find some chicks!’ I’m like ‘[sighs] Alright pop, let’s go.’ He knows, but he’s just joking like that.”

On coming out publicly:

“I tell people all the time that you need that support system, the sky's the limit. There are many reasons why I wanted to come out publicly. I wanted to bring my boyfriend with me to red carpets at the time, which I did. Also I wanted to bring him backstage to the masculine world of professional wrestling, and I was able to do that. I hear the wrestlers talk about their relationship problems and I can be sassy. I can be like ‘mmm, honey thank goodness I am gay.’ I can just be me, before I wouldn’t be able to do that, I’d be very tough. But now I can just be me, and that is very important to me. When you come out as an athlete you have a duty to instil confidence into our youth and to lead by example. So that’s why I am always representing.”

On telling TMZ before WWE:

“I mean I did it, I thought that it was the biggest decision that I made in my life. At the time I regretted it, I was like oh my God, what did I say? At the time, we were approached by TMZ during The Nexus days, but it is what it is. And when they approached me, I said what I said and I’m like, big mistake. That was when I approached WWE, I had told them what happened, they supported me and the rest is history.”

On telling WWE and how the roster was supportive:

“They didn’t know, so I had to come out again. I remember that I had to do a Be A Star the next day. I told Stephanie McMahon that I can’t do it, I can’t be in front of a crowd because of that guilt feeling and that fear of the unknown. The next day when the news dropped, I remember Mark Henry being the first guy to text me. He said ‘Hey man, come down to the hotel.’ This was before SummerSlam. ‘Yeah come down to the green room.’ I met in the green room and he said ‘man, how come you didn’t tell me?’ I said that I was just fearful, Mark responds by telling me that he has cousins that are gay. From then on, me and Mark were just tight. We were tight with guys like Randy Orton and CM Punk. Those guys made it a lot easier for me to walk into a locker room.”

On being in incredible shape:

“I’m about 10 lbs lighter than I was with WWE. I go between 225 and 230, but slow feet don’t eat. I’m always on the agility ladder, always jump roping. You see any boxer that is lean, they do a lot of jump roping. For me, at 38 years old, functional training works for me. I move a lot better in the ring and I look great. I’ve incorporated yoga and incorporated mobility workouts, but I feel great.”

On WWE possibly pitching a gay gimmick to him:

“I get asked that a lot, I was just happy to be myself, I wasn’t worried about whether they would make it a gimmick or not. I just wanted to be me and live out my dream as a WWE superstar. Being gay is masculine, feminine, it’s anything you want to be, it’s just me. I just wanted to be me. Titus and I would implement it as a joke, little stuff like that and I would be cool with it. But if you’re going to have me dress up, I don’t know what I would do with that character.”

On the Block The Hate movement:

“The Block The Hate movement originally started with me being the first openly gay WWE Superstar. But it’s more than just a LGBTQ movement, it’s for anyone that gets bullied. If someone says you can’t achieve your dreams, as a kid I had a speech impediment and I was overweight. But I don’t let those disabilities hold me down, I tuned out the noise and blocked the hate, and achieved my dreams. My fight is bigger than the ring, I do my advocacy work and can’t wait to do more in 2022. Whatever it takes to share my stories with the masses, I’m going to do. You tell me I can’t achieve my dreams, well F you.”

On what Fred Rosser is grateful for:

“My health, my God babies and I can be me.”

Images obtained from Instagram