If you're seeing him these days, he's Fred Rosser, but don't call him the "former" Darren Young.
"Veteran Darren Young," Rosser clarified to Fightful. "I’ve spent a lot of years and miles on the road, I started with WWE in 2009. May 4th, 2009, out of 75 other guys and girls from all over the world. I beat them all out. Same day I got signed was the same day AJ Lee got signed. But, my first day stepping foot in the ring was September 11th, 2002. One year after 9/11. So, I put some miles on this damn body, so I call myself a veteran, dammit. I ain’t former. Veteran."
After well over a decade in the ring, Rosser took a bit of a step back from active competition, and instead stepped up his speaking engagements. Just a few weeks ago, he had his first match of the year, but that hasn't kept him from spreading his message.
"I say my social media is an open diary to the world, so anything I ever post always comes from the heart with the intent to inspire, motivate and educate our youth. I’ve been doing a lot more speaking than ever before. My Block Hate movement is running wild in a city near you. It was running wild at Starrcast, as part of an all star panel. I’ve just been doing a little bit of everything. When I got released I was already living in L.A., because nothing lasts forever. So, I’m making moves out in L.A.. I always say, “Just because moves aren’t being announced doesn’t mean moves aren’t being made," said Rosser.
Before and answering our questions, Rosser greeted fans inside the Hyatt Schaumburg, excited to to meet him, his happy and chipper demeanor on display.
A former tag team champion in WWE, Rosser made headlines when he came out as gay to TMZ several years ago. He wasn't able to accomplish some of the breaking of barriers he set out to in WWE, but told Fightful recently he's open to working in either Ring of Honor, New Japan, and even in the acting world. Part of his motivation is in motivating others, and he's keeping a positive attitude no matter what comes his way.
"I always say that I have to just keep pushing forward. I want people to see me on the big screen or on social media and say “Well, if he can do it, so can I.” I’m not the first and I’m not the last, but by being the first I’ve encouraged other athletes that they still have a duty to instill confidence to our youth and lead by example. And by being the first, I’ve encouraged wrestling fans all over the world to go after their dreams and not allow the opinions of others to derail them on their journey to greatness. I just have to keep pushing forward. You’re ain’t gonna get negative shit out of me. You ain’t gonna get no negative shit about me. Ask me about Saudi!," Rosser exclaimed.
Being positive doesn't necessarily mean he agrees with everything that's happened with him. Previously, Rosser told Fightful that he wanted WWE to utilize the fact that he was an openly gay wrestler, but that they didn't seem to want to "exploit" the situation. However, with Rosser's blessing it still didn't happen, and he still doesn't know why.
"I scratch my head. Every damn day, man. You just never know, man. Back in the day it was just Vince McMahon and Pat Patterson running the show. Now it’s Vince McMahon, Pat Patterson and a plethora of guys that… You know, it is what it is. That’s all I can say. I can only control my future now. I can say and talk badly about WWE, but I can’t be a hypocrite. Block the Hate. It’s easier to love than it is to hate. I had a great career for WWE, I’m making moves into other projects. Like I said, what me hurt the most is when I got released from WWE and four months after my release they put the LGBT movement on Finn Balor, who’s a good friend of mine, but he’s a straight guy. I just wanted to get that brought up, be able to represent the community. For me, WWE is entertainment, AEW is entertainment. I just love wrestling in general. [So, me personally, however I want to be perceived, I’m gonna be the boss of that.]," Rosser explained.
In addition to speaking engagements, what has Rosser been doing since scaling back the in-ring work. The aforementioned acting, and branching out beyond that to expand his portfolio.
"So, I had a few cameos in films to get that experience," said Rosser on the lobby floor of a Schaumburg hotel. "‘Cause I’m getting my foot in the backdoor pretty much, with no acting experience. Just my WWE experience, so I’m getting that experience. I’m with a clothing brand now; Headquarters Clothing, who are big wrestling fans. And three main reasons I love Headquarters Clothing is the message, the quality and they’re like family to me. So I’m becoming a business man, and on top of that I’m getting into the CBD world, man. As an athlete, we want to get people off those opiates and get them into healthy lifestyles living. And that’s what it’s all about with me. So I’m making moves, making moves, making million dollar moves. Literally."
CBD has exploded in popularity over the past few years. Without getting into the legalities as compared to marijuana, it's a huge business opportunity "90% of everyone. 90% of the locker room, I’m sure. Yeah," said Rosser of marijuana use in WWE. That can lead to a fine, whereas CDB can't, and Young seed that as a major selling point.
"I was a CBD user when I was on the roster," Rosser admitted. "I’ve had concussions; I’ve been rocked several times. And when you have to go from city to city three hundred miles, I just couldn’t do it. So the CBD helped me out. It helped me out with my anxiety and car rides with Titus O’Neil and Sheamus and Mark Henry. But, I love those guys ‘cause those guys supported me when I came out. They made it a lot easier for me to walk into a locker room. So, yeah, I’m trying to get into the CBD world, baby."
Even though his wrestling work has slowed down a bit, Rosser isn't done. He's offered his services to multiple companies, and will be ready when called upon,
"I’m just a professional waiter," Rosser said. "That’s what we are, professional waiters. We wait at the airport, we wait at the hotel, we wait for food. We wait, we wait, we wait. You know, you have to be consistent. Without commitment you’ll never start, but most importantly without consistency you’ll never finish. So, I know what the grind is like. I put myself out there, I’m interested. And [one monkey] don’t stop no show. If they don’t want me I keep pushing forward."
You can see our full interview with Fred Rosser above, and can check him out on social media at this link.