Former NJPW Star Makes WWE NXT Debut

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Shortly after signing a contract with WWE NXT in January of 2023, former NJPW star Karl Fredericks was renamed to Eddy Thorpe, taking inspiration from football player Jim Thorpe.

Though he’s had a number of matches on both NXT live events as well as NXT Level Up, Thorpe had yet to compete on NXT TV until the most recent episode. On March 28th, he made his official NXT debut, handily defeating Myles Borne.

Taking to social media after the bout, Thorpe posted the following message:

Eddy Thorpe Left NJPW In August Of 2022 Before Signing With WWE NXT

Thorpe first entered the New Japan LA Dojo in 2018 and had success early in his career, winning the 2019 Young Lion Cup. However, he was eliminated in the first round of the 2020 New Japan Cup USA Tournament, and also failed to capture the Strong Openweight Championship from Tom Lawlor in June of 2021. His contract with New Japan ended on August 1st, 2022, and he issued the following statement at that time:

“As of today August 1st I am no longer under contract with New Japan Pro Wrestling and I will not be re-signing with the company at this time. Though there is disappointment at the ending of this chapter I am grateful for the last four years traveling the world and growing with my best friends.”

“I want to say thank you to the company for the opportunities and especially thank you to Shibata-San for believing in me and bringing me along his journey with the LA Dojo. Last but not least thank you to my fans and thank you to the NJPW fans for your support over these years. I hope you will continue to support me along my path wherever that may lead.”

He was spotted at the WWE Performance Center shortly thereafter, but would not sign an official WWE contract until the following January.