If you’re a fan of New Japan Pro Wrestling or Ring of Honor, Karl Fredericks may be a name that you’ve heard before. Karl is currently cutting his teeth as part of the first class of Young Lions to join NJPW’s LA Dojo under the tutelage of the legendary Katsuyori Shibata. As is tradition with the Young Lions, whilst developing in the dojo Fredericks has only had a handful of matches in front of a live NJPW crowd, with his debut coming in November 2018 at the Lion’s Break Project. Most recently he wrestled during NJPW’s New Beginning in USA shows, including a match against Jeff Cobb, all of which is available on NJPW World. As our wrestler of the week, we asked Fredericks about life in the dojo under Shibata, who he wants to face in NJPW and more.
How is life in the NJPW LA Dojo?
Life at the dojo is great. It was a huge adjustment and a bit of a culture shock at first. It’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. It’s building my character and my discipline alongside my wrestling ability.
How is it being trained by Shibata?
INTENSE is the first word that comes to mind. It’s truly an honor and a blessing. His mind is on wrestling 24/7 and he’s always working and thinking to make us better.
Which wrestlers on the NJPW roster are you most eager to face?
Most eager I would have to say Kota Ibushi or Hirooki Goto.
What match of yours would you recommend to somebody who hasn’t seen you wrestle before?
vs Jacob Fatu – Clash at the Cow Palace
(Click here to see this match)
I’ve always had an interest in entertainment and sports. When I was young I loved music and watching people like Michael Jackson perform. When I was 6 I got hooked on WCW and never stopped loving wrestling after that. I played sports all the way into college, and I started playing in bands and performing solo music. When I realised that pro wrestling was a mix of all the things I love most and I was good at it, I knew I had to try and make it happen. In my last semester of college (2015) I started training to wrestle. The day after I graduated I went on the road for the first time, quit my job the next week and never looked back.
What is your least favourite move to take?
Don’t really have one. But I remember a time where I took a 450 splash and on rotation my opponent stepped on my face (in cowboy boots). That was my least favourite.
What, if anything, would you change about wrestling?
I want there to be a Pro Wrestling World Cup type of tournament. All the major companies put their top one or two performers in the tournament. I think that would be very interesting.
Where is the weirdest place you’ve wrestled?
Stoner U – Oakland CA
Who are your wrestling heroes/icons?
Jeff Hardy was the most polarizing character to me when I was young. I would jump off of my house onto my trampoline any chance I could. The Rock and Chris Jericho were also major inspirations for me.
If every time you walked into a room, 1 song had to play, what would it be?
Move Your Feet – Junior Senior
You can pick any superhero or villain to become your tag team partner, who do you pick?
I’m going with Aquaman. He’d make sure the match was over in time to hit happy hour.
NJPW puts a lot of work into their Young Lions. A wrestler needs to have huge potential to join the dojo and then prove they are worthy of their place as they undergo grueling training. The Japanese dojo’s most recent success story is the current IWGP Heavyweight Champion Jay White. Having completed his dojo training and returning from excursion to debut at Wrestle Kingdom 12 in 2018, he had a groundbreaking first year as Switchblade. It’s not unusual for a Young Lion to become a star among NJPW which is why the company put a lot of effort into their regime and want to build stars from the ground up. There’s no reason that Karl Frederick’s can’t join the likes of former Young Lions such as Kazuchika Okada and Tetsuya Naito. And in Shibata, he has one of the best wrestlers in the world helping lead the way.