The Young Lion academy is a tough place to come through. Whether in Japan or the LA Dojo. If you want to be part of NJPW, being a Young Lion is the way to go. Karl Fredericks joined the LA Dojo in 2018. Despite having several years’ experience behind him, he went back to basics at the Young Lions academy.

Following in the footsteps of many NJPW greats, including Shinsuke Nakamura, Tatsuya Naito and Kazuchika Okada, Karl Fredericks graduated from the dojo in June 2020. Since then he has been able to develop his character and build his own story in wrestling. Paying homage to his Native American heritage in both his attire and move names, Fredericks has become a solid name on the NJPW roster. Appearing at both US and Japan-based events.

This coming Friday on NJPW Strong, Karl Fredericks will get his first chance at a title in NJPW when he takes on Tom Lawler. Lawler is the inaugural Strong Openweight champion, having won the belt earlier this year, beating Brody King in the tournament finals.

NJPW Strong is a new brand under the NJPW banner. It is based solely in the US and after coming through the pandemic era of professional wrestling, is growing week by week. Yes, there are some established names on its roster, but it is young lions and graduates such as Karl Fredericks and Clark Connors who are the future of the brand.

The Young Lions system is an interesting one and has been very successful for NJPW through the decades. There are questions as to whether a system such as that would be useful for companies like AEW. It could be argued that the original thoughts behind NXT were Young Lion-esque however, a fully-fledged dojo system could help promotions build talent for the future, as well as support smaller associated promotions through excursion agreements.

The future is bright for Karl Fredericks, and while the chances of Lawler dropping the Strong belt so soon in his run are slim, there is definitely gold in Fredericks’s future.