Frederick "Fred" Rosser III (November 2, 1983) is an American professional wrestler best known for his time in WWE performing under the ring name Darren Young. He appeared on the fifth season of WWE NXT. He previously appeared on the first season of WWE NXT in early 2010 before a stint on the Raw brand.
Prior to signing with WWE, Rosser wrestled under several ring names, including Frederick of Hollywood, Fred Rosser, and "Bonecrusher" Fred Sampson. He has competed in Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic independent promotions including Chaotic Wrestling, East Coast Wrestling Association, Independent Wrestling Federation and the National Wrestling Alliance.
Professional wrestling career
Born in Union City, New Jersey, Rosser began watching professional wrestling during the mid-1980s and became interested in becoming a professional wrestler as a teenager, wrestling in several backyard wrestling federations. He researched a number of wrestling schools before deciding on Camp IWF in West Paterson, New Jersey. This was due in part to his employer, whose uncle was a friend of a local wrestler training there at the time, and helped him enroll in the wrestling school.
Rosser made his professional debut in 2002 and spent several years on the independent circuit, including wrestling for the Independent Wrestling Federation and Chaotic Wrestling during his early career. On May 17, 2003, he won his first major title when he defeated his former trainer Kevin Knight for the IWF Heavyweight Championship in Woodland Park, New Jersey and held it for over half a year until losing to Roman on January 17, 2004. On March 20, he lost to Shane O'Brien at the IWF Centre. The following night, Rosser and Kevin Knight were declared the co-winners in an 18-man battle royal. It was at a house show in Chaotic Wrestling that he was first noticed by promoter Jim Kettner and invited to compete for the East Coast Wrestling Association where he made his debut in the summer of 2004. Shortly after entering the promotion, Rosser began feuding with Prince Nana over the ECWA Mid Atlantic Championship and eventually defeated him for the title in Newark, Delaware on September 18, 2004. He lost the title to Nick Malakai less than two months later.
World Wrestling Entertainment / WWE (2009–2017)
In May 2009, Rosser signed a WWE developmental contract and was sent to WWE's developmental territory, Florida Championship Wrestling, under the name Darren Young. In FCW, Young was in a tag team called The South Beach Party Boys with Percy Watson. On February 16, 2010, it was announced that he would be competing as part of the first season of WWE NXT, and mentored by CM Punk.
NXT and The Nexus (2010)
On February 23, 2010, Young made his debut on WWE NXT with a character described as a "South Beach Party Boy", losing his debut match to David Otunga. His storyline had mentor CM Punk showing apathy towards him, claiming he had no idea why he's in NXT and did not want to train Young unless he accepted his Straight-edge lifestyle. Despite this, Punk and his disciples, Luke Gallows and Serena, helped Young win his rematch against Otunga the following week. Young was ranked eight in the first Pros' Poll. After the pros' poll, Young decided to join the Straight Edge Society in an attempt to improve, only to change his mind before getting his hair shaved off. CM Punk decided to forgive him for standing up to him when he defeated Luke Gallows with Young's own hair on the line. Because of this victory, CM Punk had then been interested in Young's potential, but in turn started feuding with a jealous Luke Gallows. On May 11 in the second Pros poll, Young was ranked fifth out of the six remaining contestants and narrowly escaped elimination. The following week, however, Young was eliminated from the competition.
The week following the Season 1 finale, Young, along with the other season one NXT rookies turned heel and interfered in the main event match on Raw between John Cena and Young's former Pro, CM Punk, and attacked both wrestlers, the announce team, and the ring announcer Justin Roberts, before they dismantled the ring area and surrounding equipment. On the June 14 edition of Raw the rookies attacked General Manager Bret Hart, when he refused to give them contracts. The following week on Raw, Vince McMahon fired Hart and announced that a new General Manager had been hired, one that had signed all seven season one NXT rookies to contracts. The following week, the group was named The Nexus. On the July 5 episode of Raw, The Nexus tried to attack John Cena as he confronted Wade Barrett during their "truce" with one another. The segment ended with The Nexus leaving without Young, when other Raw wrestlers arrived to aid Cena, and Young was assaulted by Cena to end the show. Due to Cena's actions, the new general manager pitted Cena in a 7 on 1 handicap match against The Nexus scheduled for the following week. Young however did not participate in the handicap match due to injuries caused by Cena the previous week, though The Nexus was successful in winning the match. He returned on July 18 at Money in the Bank with the rest of The Nexus, sporting a new haircut and costing Cena the WWE Championship against Sheamus. After the match, Cena attacked Young and fellow Nexus teammate, Michael Tarver. The Nexus continued to feud with Cena and the Raw roster, resulting in a seven-on-seven elimination tag team match at SummerSlam. Young was the first person to be eliminated from the match, when he submitted to Daniel Bryan in under a minute, and The Nexus went on to lose the match. On the next episode of Raw the members of The Nexus fought in individual matches against members of the victorious Team WWE with the stipulation that losing a match would have them exiled from the group. Young chose to face John Cena but failed to win, and was exiled and attacked as a result.
Young returned on the September 6 episode of Raw, distracting Barrett and costing him a match against Randy Orton. On the October 4 episode of Raw, Young participated in a battle royal to determine the number one contender to the WWE Championship, but was eliminated by The Nexus. Young had his first singles match since leaving The Nexus on the October 7 episode of Superstars, but lost to William Regal. Young had his first win in singles competition on the October 14 airing of Superstars defeating Primo. Young got his first victory of 2011 when he teamed with Primo, Yoshi Tatsu, and David Hart Smith to defeat Zack Ryder, William Regal, and The Usos on the January 13 episode of Superstars.
NXT Redemption, Tweener and Feud with Hornswoggle and Titus O'Neill (2011-2012)
In March 2011, Young was selected as one of six former NXT contestants to return to the show in its fifth season, NXT Redemption. During this season, Young was mentored by Chavo Guerrero. In the season premiere, Young defeated Jacob Novak and won the first challenge to earn himself "redemption points". On the April 12 edition of Redemption, Young turned Tweener when he attacked Titus O'Neil after their match and tried to attack O'Neil's pro Hornswoggle, but Chavo Guerrero stopped Young from doing so.
He was suspended in October 2011 for his first violation of the WWE wellness policy, but returned in November.
On the April 18 episode of NXT, Young and O'Neil were signed by John Laurinaitis to the SmackDown brand. The team made their debut for the brand on the April 20 episode of SmackDown with a victory over The Usos. The team suffered their first team loss against the WWE Tag Team Champions Kofi Kingston and R-Truth on the May 18th edition of Smackdown.
The Prime Time Players (2012–2014)
At the No Way Out pay-per-view in June, Young and O'Neil teamed up to defeat Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd, Primo and Epico, and The Usos in a four-way number one contender tag team match to earn a future shot at the WWE Tag Team Championship, after A. W. turned on his clients, Epico and Primo. On the July 16 episode of Raw, Young and O'Neil unsuccessfully challenged Kofi Kingston and R-Truth for the WWE Tag Team Championship. On the August 10 episode of Smackdown, they defeated Primo and Epico in a number one contenders match via disqualification when A. W. provoked Kingston and R-Truth, who were on commentary, into interfering in the match. That same day, A. W. was released from his contract. Prime Time Players received their title shots at SummerSlam, but were again defeated by Kingston and R-Truth. On the September 7 edition of Smackdown, Prime Time Players defeated Primo and Epico and The Usos in a triple threat tag team match to earn another shot the Tag Team Championship. However, on Raw three days later, Prime Time Players lost their title shot to the team of Daniel Bryan and Kane (soon to be known as Team Hell No). At the Survivor Series pay-per-view, Young took part in a 10-man elimination tag team match, but was eliminated by Rey Mysterio. Young also competed in the 2013 Royal Rumble entering at entrant 15 but was eliminated by Kofi Kingston.
During the early months of 2013, The Prime Time Players mostly made sporadic appearances on the different shows often just making backstage showings. On the June 24 episode of RAW, Young faced CM Punk in a losing singles match. Afterwards, Titus O'Neil came in to attack Punk before being stopped by Curtis Axel who came to assist Punk. The following week on the July 1 episode of Raw, Punk and Axel faced and defeated Young and O'Neil after Punk used his finisher on Young before Axel slipped in to capture the pin-fall. Young made yet another rare ring appearance during the July 19 episode of Smackdown, working a jobber match, losing to the returning Rob Van Dam.
On the August 19, 2013 edition of Raw, the Prime Time Players turned face in a winning effort against the Real Americans. The face turn had been speculated about for some months, especially after Young's real-life coming out the previous week which received mainstream media coverage. The team gained a push, challenging for the WWE Tag Team Championship, but lost a match to The Shield. The duo also sided with other face wrestlers from the active roster, only to get punished by COO Triple H for preventing Daniel Bryan from being critically injured by Randy Orton. The Prime Time Players were amongst the select few ordered to battle The Shield in separately sanctioned 3 on 1 handicap matches on the September 20 edition of SmackDown, as punishment for their intervention.
At the January 31, 2014 edition of SmackDown, The Prime Time Players disbanded, after Titus allowed Curtis Axel to pin Young during a tag-team match against Axel and Ryback. After the match, as Titus was leaving, Young yelled at Titus, thus Titus attacked Young, turning Titus heel in the process. On Smackdown the same week, Darren attacked Titus to get redemption and for Titus calling Darren "Dead Weight". Young picked up a victory over Damien Sandow on the February 14 edition of SmackDown, before being attacked by Titus O'Neil, which turned into a brawl which left Titus in tattered clothes. they went one on one at Elimination Chamber, which the victor being O'Neil. However, Young defeated O'Neil in a rematch on Main Event. At WrestleMania XXX Young was in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal where he was eliminated by the 3MB.
At a WWE Live Event on April 12, Darren Young was injured in a match against Fandango and on April 16, Darren underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee that would take him out of action for four to six months.
Young made his in-ring return on December 20 at a WWE live event in Winnipeg, after 8 months of inactivity. On the January 5, 2015 episode of Raw Young appeared with the rest of the WWE roster in the opening segment.
Reunion of The Prime Time Players and release (2015-2017)
His official return came on the February 16 episode of Raw, where Young and Future Stars of Wrestling Las Vegas wrestler, Kevin Kross were scheduled to face The Ascension, but were attacked by them before the bell rang, leading to Young's former tag team partner Titus O'Neil making the save.
He would reform the tag team of the Prime Time Players, even winning the WWE Tag Team Championship for the first time in his career. After the Prime Time Players broke up, he would perform solo before being released from WWE on October 29, 2017.
Rosser attended Union High School in New Jersey, where he played American football, both offensively and defensively. Rosser attended Fairleigh Dickinson University where he played football for a year, before deciding to focus on his academic studies and professional wrestling. He has cited Shawn Michaels and Ricky Steamboat as his favorite wrestlers. On August 15, 2013, he publicly discussed being gay, making him the first wrestler ever to come out while still signed to a major promotion. Later that day, WWE.com released a statement in support of Rosser for being open about his sexuality.
- Finishing moves
- Signature moves
- "The South Beach Party Boy"
- "Mr. No Days Off"
- "We Are One" by 12 Stones (June 7, 2010 – August 16, 2010; used while a part of The Nexus)
- "One Two Three" by Holter Weerts (September 6, 2010 – February 1, 2012)
- "Move (Get In)" by Woo Child (February 1, 2012 – November 30, 2012; used while teaming with Titus O'Neil and in singles competition)
- "Making Moves" by Sugar Tongue Slim (December 3, 2012–February 8, 2016; used while teaming with Titus O'Neil and in singles competition)
- "Great Again" by CFO$ (July 11, 2016 – October 29, 2017)
Championships and accomplishments
- Chaotic Wrestling
- East Coast Wrestling Association
- Independent Wrestling Federation
- IWF Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
- Commissioner's Cup Tag Team Tournament (2003) – with Hadrian
- Commissioner's Cup Tag Team Tournament (2004) – with Kevin Knight
- Commissioner's Cup Tag Team Tournament (2006) – with Franciz
- Tournament of Champions (2004)
- National Wrestling Superstars
- NWS Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Bulldog Collare
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- World Wrestling Entertainment
|CM Punk • David Otunga • Husky Harris • Mason Ryan • Michael McGillicutty • Skip Sheffield • Daniel Bryan • Darren Young • Heath Slater • John Cena • Justin Gabriel • Michael Tarver • Wade Barrett|