‘Mr. No Days Off’ Fred Rosser brings Block The Hate movement to NJPW

NJPW, Fred Rosser (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for The Trevor Project)
NJPW, Fred Rosser (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for The Trevor Project) /

“Mr. No Days Off” Fred Rosser discusses his experience and contract status with NJPW, working with Jake Atlas, and hoping for a gay World Champion some day.

On September 4, 2020, the fifth episode of NJPW Strong went live on NJPW World and revealed the New Japan Pro Wrestling debut of “Mr. No Days Off” Fred Rosser. While it was his first time inside an NJPW ring, Rosser is an 18-year veteran of the wrestling industry as of September 11, 2020, though he’s only 36 years old.

Appearing with WWE as early as 2005, Rosser was ultimately signed by the company in 2009 and went on to be part of the inaugural season of WWE NXT and a founding member of The Nexus. While known as Darren Young, he became a former WWE Tag Team Champion alongside Titus O’Neil and (as part of The Nexus) won the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Feud of the Year in 2010 and WWE’s 2010 Slammy Award for Shocker of the Year.

In 2013, Fred Rosser became a trailblazer by being the first WWE superstar to ever come out openly as gay. The revelation resulted in an outpouring of support by his peers and WWE, even leading the company to partner with the NOH8 Campaign in April of 2014 after Rosser had taken the initiative to wear NOH8 gear when he was on WWE programming.

Ultimately, 2013 became a huge year for Rosser, who was named Inspirational Wrestler of the Year by PWI in 2013 and ranked 89 in that 2013’s PWI 500. Just over a year after coming out, Fred Rosser took to Twitter to implore people to Block The Hate.

While the tweet, and Fred Rosser’s decision to start wearing Block The Hate on his gear in WWE and later outside of WWE, may seem like small gestures, it formed the origin of a movement he’s still spearheading to this day. As stated here: “The “Block The Hate” LGBT Rights Campaign’s goal is to reach 10,000 people by 2020 through social media, speaking engagements, and TV appearances. The primary goal is to educate Americans and facilitate “RESPECT” of our fellow citizens, to educate the LGBT community about their “RIGHTS” and to “REDUCE” the number of young LGBT people committing suicide.”

Taking the Block The Hate movement to NJPW

Whether it’s through his social media, as a motivational speaker, or within the wrestling ring, Fred Rosser has continued to embody the Block The Hate movement every step of the way. When I had the chance to speak with him last week, Fred Rosser discussed the opportunity to bring that movement with him as a part of NJPW.

“I’m a trailblazer with WWE by being the first openly gay WWE superstar, but my fight doesn’t stop there. It’s a global movement. Block The Hate is global. It’s not just the US, it’s everywhere,” he said. “There’s seven billion plus people on this planet, so I want everyone to hear the message. In this world, we always see hate for various reasons, but in order to be strong and successful you gotta Block The Hate.”

“It’s definitely makin’ moves with me coming to New Japan and bringing my whole Block The Hate movement and my whole story. It’s different, and I’m very happy that New Japan is embracing the movement and embracing me, because I always say none of us are as strong as all of us,” Rosser said. “If I can pave the way in WWE for guys like Jake Atlas, Sonya Deville, a plethora of other indie superstars, then I can pave the way for others that might want to come to New Japan and get physical. So I’m very happy to be that superhero for the community.”

After eight years as part of WWE, Fred Rosser was released by the company in 2017. We talked about the reason his journey has now brought him to NJPW, and why working with the company was so important to him.

“I’ve always had strong interest in competing with New Japan, or just experiencing Japan in general. With the WWE, I’ve been blessed to wrestle all over the world, but every time we did a tour of Japan I was always on a different tour, like the UK, or not on tour at all. So, it’s always been in the back of my mind to perform in Japan or for New Japan,” he said. “My career for WWE as a wrestler kind of ended in 2017, but I always say I still have a lot left in the tank, and I still have a lot left to offer.”

“I was on a show in September of 2019 with Lance Hoyt, who at the time was with New Japan, and he gave me a New Japan Pro Wrestling flyer. New Japan was running a show at the Globe Theatre in LA in November, and Lance Hoyt had told me to come,” Rosser continued. “The show started at 7 pm, and I was there at 5 pm to meet the New Japan wrestlers [and] to meet Rocky Romero who ultimately helped me get signed to New Japan.”

“I watched the show as a fan. I watched it from beginning to end, and that one question was running in my head: ‘do I fit in with this style? Am I fit for New Japan? Am I fit for New Japan?’ It was the one question that was running in my head thousands and thousands of times, and after watching the show at the Globe Theatre in LA, I realized that I definitely do fit in with the style. I just needed them to see me,” he said.

“After the show, I approached Rocky Romero backstage, and I told him about my wanting to wrestle with New Japan as a bucket list of mine. Not being able to compete in Japan with WWE because of the different tours, I wanted to be able to experience it,” Rosser said. “I’ve done tryouts with WWE, and I was willing to do another tryout at the New Japan LA Dojo. I told Rocky that, and Rocky Romero said ‘alright, well give me a couple of weeks and we’ll see if we can have you come down to the dojo to do the tryout.’ This was when we talked in November at the Globe Theatre.”

It was an important night that led to the moments we’re seeing now as “Mr. No Days Off” Fred Rosser is just beginning to spread his wings and show us what he’s capable of in NJPW. Just a few months after that conversation, he got an opportunity to spread his wings in a different way by performing in a production of the off-Broadway musical “Little House on the Ferry.”


“Then, fast forward to January/February of 2020 [and] I had signed on to do my first-ever off-Broadway musical. So, I was in New York in January and February working on that,” Rosser said. “One of the reasons why I decided to sign on to that off-Broadway musical was because of Chris Jericho’s stint with Dancing with the Stars. I kind of looked at it as ‘well, if he can do it, so can I.’ That’s when I signed on to do the off-Broadway musical and did that January and February of this year. It’s an experience that I loved, and I would do it again in a heartbeat, and then the pandemic hit in March.”

“I always knock on wood, but since the pandemic hit I’ve been pretty blessed to work with a lot of online sponsorships like Celsius Energy, a lot of keto snack companies, a lot of CBD wellness companies. I’ve been quite lucky and blessed with that to have partnered with those brands, so I’ve been quite busy in March, April, May, June with all of that. Social media is like a second job, so I have to do what I have to do,” he said.

“It was in May or June, I forget, but Rocky Romero eventually reached out to me and he told me about this New Japan Pro Wrestling opportunity, and I was kind of torn because I needed to check with my family first. So I told Rocky, I said ‘Rocky, thank you, thank you for calling me about this opportunity, but I have to be honest with you. I need to check with my family to see if this is the right thing, because I don’t want to infect my family or anything like that.’ So I talked to my family, and my family blessed me with the decision to sign on with New Japan,” Rosser said. “They thought it was a great opportunity. They thought that they were doing everything correctly when it came to COVID testing and all that other good stuff, so my family said yes.”

Wrestling during a global pandemic

Needing to check with his family first shows not only the commitment Fred Rosser has to them, but the severity of the global pandemic we’re still experiencing. With that in mind, I asked about the specific precautions being taken by NJPW in filming these NJPW Strong events.

“Before we did the matches, a couple days beforehand, we went to a site to get tested. Then, two days later we got the results back, and then we were able to compete the next day. So that’s how the testing worked,” he said. “Social distancing backstage was definitely in full effect. Everyone had masks on until we got to the ring. Everyone was social distancing and doing the right thing.”

“I’ve got to say, New Japan Pro Wrestling’s locker room, at least from what I’ve experienced so far, is definitely one of the hardest locker rooms that I’ve been a part of,” Rosser continued. “I’m truly blessed to be amongst guys like Dave Finlay, Ibushi, Flip Gordon, Tanahashi, Jay White, Jeff Cobb, KENTA. Those guys. So, I always say I just want 2020 to end and 20201 to begin, because I think hopefully in 2021 we can start traveling to Japan so I can compete in Japan and really fulfill my bucket list dream, but time will only tell.”

While we’ve only seen a glimpse of him so far, NJPW Strong has filmed several episodes which will continue to air in the coming weeks. While we spoke, I asked Fred Rosser about his contract status with NJPW and how many more times we’ll see him as NJPW Strong continues.

“No contract at this time, but of course that’s the goal. Whatever it takes,” he said before dodging the question of how more times we can see him on NJPW Strong. “I always use the excuse of CTE. I’ve had so many concussions, I don’t know how many matches I’ve had with them so far, but you guys just gotta tune in. I’m gonna be tunin’ in myself. So, I don’t know, but I’ve had quite a few matches.”

One of the challenges that has come with being a part of these events is competing without any fans in attendance. When we spoke, Fred Rosser discussed how it felt without fans and the ways he’s able to focus despite their absence.

“I must say, the fans definitely cushion the bumps that we take. They’re a part of the show as much as we deliver on the show. It wasn’t a disconnect with me though,” he said. “When I hit that curtain, all my attention is on my opponent and all my attention is working the cameras, because that’s what we’re workin’ for. We’re workin’ for the cameras, and I’m workin’ to put a whoopin’ on my opponent. So, something where I go from zero to a hundred really quick when I hit that curtain.”

Yuji Nagata, Jon Moxley, and the Crossface Chickenwing

We can expect to see him tonight on NJPW Strong as the company has announced “Mr. No Days Off” Fred Rosser will team with Misterioso to take on PJ Black (formerly Justin Gabriel in WWE, where he was also part of The Nexus) and Rocky Romero. Whether it’s tonight or in a future match, Rosser also confirmed fans can be on the lookout for the return of the Crossface Chickenwing he used to use during part of his tenure with WWE.

“At one time, I had that taken away from me to be held for someone like Asuka, but I’m not gonna cry over spilled milk. I’m gonna use it in New Japan. They’re going to allow me to put that Crossface Chickenwing on and hopefully tap someone out,” Rosser said before talking about what else we can expect as he continues to appear on NJPW Strong.

“I don’t wanna cram 15 pounds of crap in a 5 pound bag. So I gotta give you a little bit here, a little bit there, but you guys are gonna be very happy with what I deliver,” he said. “I’ve gotten to share the ring with, for example, a guy like Tom Lawlor. He is an MMA fighter. He is as real as they come. Let me just say when you guys see us go at it, you’ll think that it’s Kevin Sullivan and Chris Benoit all over again from back in WCW, because it is going to be so physical when you see that in the future.”

“I’m truly blessed to keep the dream alive and be another trailblazer in New Japan. I was a trailblazer with WWE being the first openly gay WWE superstar, but now having the opportunity for New Japan, which was a bucket list of mine, to conquer that,” Rosser said. “I’m like on cloud nine from the time I got signed by WWE in May 4, 2009. The same feelings that I had back then, I have now wrestling with New Japan.”

“I’m happy with what I’ve delivered with New Japan so far, and I think moving forward the wrestling universe is gonna be very pleased and very happy,” he said. “So far, the response has been incredible. I’ve not seen one bad comment, and I’ve read thousands and thousands of comments because this is huge for me. They’ve always been the same about how I am a good fit, and how I have adjusted so well to New Japan just in one match.”

The response from fans, as he talked about, has been truly incredible as longtime fans of NJPW and those who knew him from his time in WWE have been positive following his first appearance. Fred Rosser also discussed the response he’s gotten from Rocky Romero and NJPW commentator Kevin Kelly.

“Not only Rocky, but Kelly has also said that I fit in with the style perfectly [and] I look good. I definitely feel good. I knew I was gonna be a good fit with New Japan, I just needed to be given that opportunity, and Rocky I’m pretty sure is very impressed with what I’ve been delivering, and I’m truly blessed for him giving me that opportunity,” he said. “I always say that without commitment you’ll never start, and most importantly without consistency you’ll never finish. So you’ve gotta be committed and you’ve gotta be consistent, because there’ll be room for the finish line, you know what I mean?”

Competing with NJPW opens up opportunities, and there was a specific NJPW legend that Rosser hopes to step into the ring with. On top of that, he looked at the current AEW World Champion Jon Moxley, who also competes in NJPW and is the reigning IWGP US Heavyweight Champion, as the only man he’d be willing have a hardcore match with.

“Yuji Nagata is a bucket list match of mine that I would love to do with New Japan. So hopefully we can see that in the future before he retires, because he’s a legend. If I can share the ring with a legend, that’ll mean the world with me,” he said. “I’d love to do a hardcore match with Moxley. It’s funny, I remember before the pandemic hit, WrestleMania was gonna be in Tampa, Florida. I wasn’t booked at the time to do stuff with WWE or any indie stuff, so I was personally reaching out to indie companies to do something in Tampa, Florida for WrestleMania week. Nothing was really happening for me, and I was offered to do a hardcore match. I forget for which organization, maybe GCW, but I was offered to do a hardcore match. I said to myself ‘absolutely not.’ I said the only way I’m gonna do a hardcore match is if I do it with Moxley. Man, I love Moxley. I think we would have a good match and tell a tremendous story and be believable as possible, because that’s what you’re gonna see out of me.”

Seeking out Jake Atlas

While Jon Moxley and Yuji Nagata are pillars of current and past eras, it was a pillar of the future who Fred Rosser made a point to seek out and compete against on the independent scene after he left WWE. We discussed how he first met Jake Atlas (who later signed with WWE) and specifically requested him as an opponent.

“A year after my release in 2017, Dolph Ziggler’s brother had reached out and asked me if I would be down to do a fundraiser show for him here in LA, and I said ‘sure, absolutely,’ but I wanted to be able to pick my own opponent. And I said ‘could I wrestle Jake Atlas?’ Because I had met him at Santino Brothers in LA, and I was working out one day and he came up to me and he told me his story and I couldn’t believe it,” Rosser said. “This handsome Mexican wrestler was LGBTQ, and then I was able to watch him work. I said ‘man, this guy is something else.’ So even after my career with WWE, I’m not a grizzled vet. I’m not one of those guys that’ll throw anyone under the bus. I wanna be able to elevate them.”

“Still to this day I always say, and I’ll say it now with 18 years almost in the business, he’s probably one of my top five favorite matches that I’ve been able to be a part of because of the reactions of the fans in LA. They bit on everything I had mapped out,” he said. “I wanted to ultimately share this match to the world and let WWE know that this guy is the next to be signed, and everything clicked with us. So I always say, 18 years in the business now, he’s one of my top five favorite matches. So he’s makin’ moves. Sonya Deville’s makin’ moves. I always say representation is so important. We need more athletes speaking up and speaking out, and I’ve only got until I’m six feet under.”

When Fred Rosser became a trailblazer by being the first WWE superstar to openly come out as gay while signed to the company, he broke down an invisible barrier that helped Jake Atlas become the first already openly gay wrestler to sign with WWE. Rosser isn’t the only person fighting for progress in professional wrestling when it comes to accepting and embracing the LGBTQ community, and I asked about the importance of promotions like Uncanny Attractions and events like EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch in pushing the industry forward.

“Oh, so so important. I’m in the entertainment business, you know? I don’t mean to steal WWE’s line, but we want to put smiles on people’s faces and we want to make it comfortable for all wrestling fans,” he said. “Happiness isn’t just for one person, it’s for everybody. Everyone should be able to come to a wrestling show. If they wanna don a Block The Hate shirt or LGBTQ colors and feel safe, then that’s what it’s all about. I always say none of us are as strong as all of us. Again, the more representation you have out there the better. And for me, now that I’m with New Japan, I want people to ultimately look at me and say, whether they see me on New Japan or WWE or on my social media, I want people to look at me and say ‘well if he can do it, so can I.’”

While progress has undeniably been made, and the industry is more progressive and accepting than ever before, there’s still work to be done. Fred Rosser was clear about the importance of seeing a gay World Champion in wrestling someday, and the unfortunate response someone who works with GLAAD and WWE had to this idea.

“Slow and steady wins the race. We’re makin’ moves, but of course we can always do better. We can always do better in having a gay World Champion. Representation, that would be incredible. I talked to someone recently from GLAAD right before the pandemic. I was a part of a panel discussion at the Sundance Film Festival, and someone from GLAAD was at the panel discussion who does work with WWE, and what I’m saying to you now is what I was saying during the panel,” he said.

“A guy had come up to me, I forget his name, and he said ‘I respect your decision for coming out. I’ve been following your career. I do work with GLAAD and WWE, but it’s just unfortunate. It’s not you. They are just not ready for a gay World Champion.’ So again, that’s something that we need to change,” Rosser said. “I want people to look at me and say ‘man, he’s our World Champion. He’s fighting for equality for all, and he’s representing like no other.’ That’s what it’s all about. We’re in the entertainment business, and that’s something that definitely needs to be done someday. Hopefully we get there someday, but I always say I can only control what I do. Every day my feet touch the ground, I know someone in the LGBTQ community or whoever gets bullied into silence is counting on me. So I gotta be that superhero.”

Block The Hate

While it’s disappointing to hear someone who works both GLAAD and WWE say they aren’t ready for such an important milestone, it shows the work that still needs to be done. It’s one of the very reasons the Block The Hate movement is so important to Fred Rosser, and he talked about how fans can support it and help push the industry forward.

“The Block The Hate movement, the t-shirts and the face coverings and all that stuff is so important, and it’s just a byproduct. When you wear a Block The Hate shirt or a Block The Hate mask, whether you’re an ally or part of the community, you sign your soul to the Block The Hate movement. You represent equality. You represent closed fist, open heart, and spreading positivity,” he said.

“Especially the crazy times like this, it’s always easier to love than it is to hate. So that’s all I can do,” Rosser continued. “When people ask me about our current President, I can only control what I do. I can’t control what our President does. So that’s why my whole Block The Hate movement is so near and dear to my heart. I’m more concerned with that one fan that I met years ago and that contacts me on social media and says that they wanna commit suicide. That’s what I’m concerned about.”

It felt fitting that we spoke on September 10, which was World Suicide Prevention Day. Fred Rosser was frank about the responsibility he carries regarding those who see his positive presence and feel the power of the Block The Hate Movement on social media.

“I always say I’m no doctor or psychiatrist, but I am a friend. So I’ve got to be that superhero, and not all superheroes wear capes, you know that. I’ve gotta be that superhero for that one person that’s being bullied or that person that wants to take their own life,” he said. “So every time my feet touch the ground, I know someone’s countin’ on me, and I can go to sleep comfortably at night knowing that I’ve saved a life. That’s what I feel.”

“I always say anyone that doesn’t have any support from their family, especially around the holidays, to be a part of my family on social media. My social media is an open diary to the world and anything I ever post comes from the heart with the intent to inspire, motivate, and educate the masses,” Rosser said. “So you’ll hear people say ‘oh, I need a break from social media, I need a break.’ You can look at social media in one of two ways. You can use it to break people down or you can use it to elevate, and I choose to elevate the masses.”

If you’re struggling with thoughts of suicide and are based in the United States, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741). Members of the LGBTQ community may feel more comfortable contacting The Trevor Project, either by calling The TrevorLifeline at 1-866-488-7386 or texting TREVOR to 1-202-304-1200. If you’re located outside of the US, click here for a list of suicide crisis lines by country.

Next. Uncanny Attractions provides a platform that gives people the courage to be themselves. dark

You can join the Block The Hate movement by using #BlockTheHate on social media or getting the merchandise via HeadQuarters Clothing. “Mr. No Days Off” Fred Rosser can be seen on NJPW World as a part of NJPW Strong events tonight and in the coming weeks, and he can be found on Instagram and Twitter.