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Former New Japan wrestler gets a new name ahead of WWE debut

Karl Fredericks, the winner of New Japan’s 2019 Young Lion’s Cup and a standout on NJPW’s shows in the United States, signed with WWE last month. He quickly debuted on an NXT house show, and at the time was still being billed under his real name.

He’s set to make his on-screen debut with this week’s episode of NXT Level Up (fka 205 Live). When he faces Dante Chen on that show, he’ll be Eddy Thorpe.

From’s preview:

Thorpe is an intriguing newcomer who has competed all over the world and has a chance to turn heads if he can defeat his fellow veteran, Chen. Chen is 6-3 in his last nine matches on NXT Level Up, having most recently picked up a hard-earned win against Kale Dixon.

Wrestling Observer points out that Fredericks, a Native American, is likely using “Thorpe” as a tribute to Native American Olympic and football legend Jim Thorpe. WWE’s already filed a trademark claim on “Eddy Thorpe”.

You can see if the 32 year old from Reno, Nevada can “turn heads” under his new name at 10pm ET on Peacock.

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