Fred Rosser on signing with NJPW Strong, WWE exploring a working relationship with NJPW, declining to remove his NJPW jacket during the filming of a WWE documentary, coming out to his family and the world, the support he received from fellow WWE wrestlers

By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

Insight With Chris Van Vliet with guest Fred Rosser
Host: Chris Van Vliet
Podcast available via Podcasts.Apple.com
Video available at Chris Van Vliet’s YouTube Page

WWE asked him to remove his New Japan branded jacket while filming a WWE documentary:
“The last time I wore this jacket 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.'”

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 signing with NJPW Strong: “Before our last 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 shit 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.”

On coming out to his immediate family: “I came out to them two years before I came out publicly to the world. 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 during an interview with TMZ in 2013: “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 instill confidence into our youth and to lead by example. So that’s why I am always representing.”

The support he received from the WWE roster after he came out: “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.”


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