Born on January 20th, 1980 Karl “Machine Gun” Anderson entered the world as Chad Allegra. He grew up in Asheville, North Carolina and even received a baseball scholarship to Mars Hill College. Anderson dropped out to pursue wrestling and began training under Les Thatcher in 2000. Anderson met fame early in his career, wrestling a slew of talented names from Jimmy Valiant to Jerry Lawler.
Anderson would begin to make his name in the National Wrestling Alliance teaming with Joey Ryan as well as a brief run in Pro Wrestling Guerilla. By the late 2000’s, Anderson had earned enough credibility to be invited to Ring of Honor before breaking out upon his arrival in New Japan Pro Wrestling in 2008. Since then, Anderson has had a meteoric rise winning key matches, competing for legendary titles, and joining up with one of the most popular groups in Japan: The Bullet Club. Culture Crossfire managed to catch up with Anderson, whom was grateful enough to respond to various Questions submitted by fans.
NOTE: If you haven’t already – check out PART 1 of this great Q&A series!
New Japan Pro-Wrestling
When did you get interested in working in New Japan? How were you contacted/did you contact somebody and how did you get involved with NJPW in the first place?
I had gone to the Los Angeles Dojo and did my thing there for a couple of years. That’s it, man. That was my ‘in’ to the company. Training my ass off there. The right people saw it and sent me a contract.
What was the biggest adjustment you had to make when you started wrestling in Japan?
I honestly did not ‘adjust’ anything at all. If you watch me from PWG 2008 to NJPW 2008 I was doing the same exact thing. I obviously knew that I had to learn that ‘style’ and learn what worked best for New Japan. It took me a little while to really understand how to put a match together there. It took me sitting and watching every match before and after me, and studying the Tanahashi’s and the Nakamura’s and the brothers who were all main eventing at that time.
And in time I feel like I finally got it. Always learning though..
You and Bernard had one of the most dominant runs as a tag team in New Japan history. Does winning all those titles and tournaments mean a lot to you or is it something that you think fans pay more attention to?
I think the fans pay more attention it, ya know. It’s something that Bernard and I didn’t even realize was a ‘historical’ run until one night we were out eating and drinking with one of the bookers and he brought it up that if we ‘won’ one more match then we tied Tenzan and Chono for longest reigning tag champs.. Then Matt and I looked at each other and thought that was pretty cool, cheers’d our beer and then moved on..
And look at it now? Sure some fans remember it. But New Japan never really puts it over. In the end we’re just gaijin. We’re replaceable.. It’s a Japanese company.
When Bernard left the company were you worried that it might negatively effect you since you guys had been a team for so long? Any concerns about transitioning to being a singles wrestler or did you want to test yourself?
It’s crazy, when I look back at it now I don’t remember having any ‘worries’. I knew that I had signed a 2 year contract with NJPW and I wasn’t going anywhere. So I was going to come to work and do the best that I could do.
I never really thought about changing to be a singles wrestler or a tag wrestler. I just do what I’m told. And I’m gonna work as hard as I can to be the best at it.
How big was it for you to go to the finals of the G1 in 2012 and what is it like taking part in the tournament? Does it take a real physical toll? Does the prestige of such a tournament add pressure to perform above and beyond?
Going to the G1 Finals was pretty intense. When I found out that I was going it was a crazy feeling inside. I was pumped.
Taking part in the G1 is special. So much special history in that tournament. If you watch it live they show this awesome video of ALL the G1 Finals from the beginning of the tournament. And it’s pretty bad ass to see Chono and Tenzan and Nagata and Choshu and all those Legends winning that tournament. But all I know now is that forever I will ALWAYS be in that video.
Physical toll is real. It hurts. But that’s every time we work. Every company. There’s always pressure to perform when you work for a big time company. Does the G1 add more pressure? Yea I think it does. But every time we go out there the NJPW fan base is expecting nothing but the best. That’s what they’re used to.
What are your favorite matches from your New Japan run, so far? Any that you were weary of going in but turned out fantastic?
Man, I’ve loved so many matches. That’s such a broad question. Where do I start? And I don’t mean that like I’ve had so many GREAT matches, it’s just I’ve had so many memorable ones to me that stood out in my mind and my career and my life..
Gotta start with my debut vs. Kanemoto cause after that match the office guys came up to me and offered me a 1 year contract. That was like a fucking dream.
Bernard and I worked with Nagata and Inoue in 2010 I think in Osaka and the crowd was hot.
Bernard and I vs. Goto/Tanahashi in Korakuen.
Myself vs. Shinsuke, Korakuen Hall New Japan Cup 2012
Okada and myself, 2012 G1 final.
Tanahashi and myself, IWGP title match, 2013 in Hiroshima.
Just to name a few..
Actually there was one with Suzuki I was nervous about cause he’s got a different style and I wasn’t sure what to expect from that brother.. BUT, we ended up having great chemistry and I love working with him now.. He’s literally amazing.
Did you get any heat for telling the public a ballpark figure for how much you were making in New Japan?
Haha. Hell naw.. I guess I’m fortunate in that respect that I don’t get reprimanded or ‘fined’ for ‘talking shit’!
How do you feel about working with Devitt? What are the two or three biggest differences between him and Giant Bernard?
Ferg is probably pound for pound the best worker in the World. And of course that’s an arguable statement but he’s definitely up there. He’s amazing. Love getting in the ring with him. Love wrestling against him. Love teaming with him. Love being around the Pro Wrestling business with him. He’s the real deal..
Bernardo has one of the greatest minds I’ve ever been around. The guy is smart. He played college football. He graduated college. He was a teacher. He got drafted into the NFL I think. He’s a smart brother. Working with him is completely different from working with Ferg but also the same. Matt’s an enormous guy so the psychology with him is different. But bro, he’s just as easy as Ferg. He’s amazing.. I know he’s had some crazy, weird gimmicks in WWE but that’s whatever. Look at him now. He’s one of the brothers training all of the guys at the Performace Center. WWE is in good hands with him having a hand in training the brothers and sisters, for sure.
When you and Bernard were teaming you won NOAH’s tag titles. What was the atmosphere like at NOAH events and how have your experiences with other inter-promotional stuff in Japan been? Do the wrestlers get excited about seeing one another at these inter-promotional events?
Working in NOAH was real cool. I was really excited to do it. It’s a different environment there for sure. Crowd is different. Style is different. I love New Japan so of course I’m going to side with New japan. But it was a great experience to work there. I love Marafuji man, he’s a great brother..
Ring of Honor
What was the biggest difference, in terms of self-growth as a wrestler, from your appearance in Ring of Honor in 2007 vs. your return in 2013? Was it just experience related or something you decided to put more effort towards?
Haha, oh man lots and lots of self-growth in the ring and in the bank account. Haha! I think I traveled to the ROH shows in 2007 with about 30 bucks in my account.. 2007 and 2013 there was just 2 completely different “Karl Anderson’s”. Simple as that.
Has the WWE ever expressed interest in you?
I’m under contract with New Japan Pro Wrestling until Februrary 1, 2016.
Given the introduction of NXT both as a training center and now airing on the WWE Network, how much effect does that have in terms of training wrestlers compared to how you came up?
It’s different for sure. It’s really really different. Because now they are hiring bro’s that never hit the independent scene and are training them from scratch. And there’s nothing wrong with that at all. They have the best trainers in the World down there and some of the best wrestlers in the World work for WWE so anyone that goes through their performance center is in amazing hands. I’ve got a lot of friends there and I hear that place is amazing. Good for them.
Should Devitt and/or Tama ever sign with one of the two major American promotions (WWE or TNA), would you attempt to follow them or wait? [Update: Devitt has signed with WWE and is competing in NXT]
I wouldn’t have wanted Ferg to go to TNA, and him and I talked about that. We just thought it was WWE or stay with New Japan. He’ll be a big star.
I think if Tama got in the PC he would do great too. But in my honest opinion I think Tama should stay in Japan. He’s in good in Japan, went through the dojo over there, his dad’s heritage. I think he’s a New Japan brother through and through. And hopefully he stays in Japan for a long time.
Who do you feel you’ve had the best chemistry with as a tag partner?
Gallows is amazing. Ferg is amazing. Bernard is amazing. Goto is amazing. You see a trend….. ?
Who do you feel you’ve had the best chemistry with in a singles match? Worst Chemistry with? Why?
Man, I love working with Tanahashi. He’s amazing.
Love working with Okada.
I’d like to think I’m a guy that can have a solid match with everyone.. I can’t say I have bad chemistry with anyone… I’d have to think about that one..
Who is your favorite all-time American pro wrestler and your favorite Japanese pro wrestler?
Growing up it was Ric Flair. Hands down. My favorite.
Japanese wrestler I have to say Great Muta. I remember him vs. Ric Flair when I was a kid and it grabbed me..
A lot of great talents in the wrestling world have used the Anderson surname. What is your ranking order of wrestling Anderson’s?
They’re all aweseome. My favorite to watch was always Arn and Ole.
How much wrestling do you watch and who are your favorites right now?
I try to watch as much as I can. My favorite guys that I like to watch now are Randy Orton. I think his intensity is awesome. Good brother to study.
Tanahashi taught me so much about working in front of a Japanese crowd.
There’s so many more. I love watching Ferg wrestle…
If you could work with one wrestler who is active today, who would it be?
Guys I’ve never worked before? John Cena or Randy Orton. I think those brothers are amazing.
What do you think about the ROH/New Japan deal?
Cool. I like Ring Of Honor. Hopefully it leads to a lot more. Their talent is amazing. I worked with Elgin a couple of times. That brother is good.
What has been the coolest experience you’ve had with a fan while wrestling? What about outside the ring?
I’ve had a lot of dinners bought for me by fans in Japan. That’s always good.
I’ve had girls cry when they meet me in Japan.
But that’s to be expected.. I’m a good looking brother..
Fans see close bonds between wrestlers when they tag with a partner over long periods of time. How has your relationship grown with Albert/Giant Bernard/Tensai from your start to now? Any thoughts on his transition to an announcing role on NXT?
Bernard was amazing to me the first day I met him. We’re still close buddies now. I’m happy for him. He’s happy with his role in WWE/NXT. He’s a smart wrestling mind.
There are a lot of wrestling personalities with close bonds to one another, such as the Kliq (Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Sean Waltman, Scott Hall, and Kevin Nash) that transcend the ring. Has that happened with you and is it something that you were immediately aware that it would be larger than just professional?
I’ve made my best friends in the Pro Wresting business.
Who came up with playing the gun sound effect over the speaker during your announcement?
New Japan told me the first day that I was there that they were going to do it. When we turned heel and formed the bullet club the ring announcer said “you’re heel now, no more gun sound in arena!”
I said “you wanna bet pal?”
The gun kept sounding..
Do wrestlers choose their theme music or have any say in that aspect?
New Japan makes my music. It’s whatever. I’ts not great. But they made it so fuck it! Do what I’m told.
How importance is the entrance to you as a character but also the fan inside you?
Entrance is a big deal. You have to look like a famous brother when you’re walking to the ring or else no one is gonna believe. That’s my opinion..
How big is it to have a self made character that you can take to different promotions?
It’s good that I don’t have to worry about any legal actions if I do independents. So it’s cool.
Fans have seen wrestlers play various characters to varying results of success. What do you think of the notion that the best characters are the ones that the wrestler portraying can best relate to (aka an extension of themselves)?
For sure. I think as long as someone plays a character naturally and not forced then it’s gonna be awesome.
Have you ever had a character concept in mind where you’ve looked back and went, oh that was horrible? What was the concept? Anything that turned out successful and you went, that was great?
I wasn’t real big on the #BulletClub at first. I was happy with the baby face run that I was getting and didn’t want to ‘derail’ that at all. But I’m not a booker. It’s not my company and I do what my boss tells me.
Of course now I’m in love with the Bullet Club and I never want the Bullet Club concept to end….
Any character traits that you’ve borrowed after another wrestler gave you an idea or thought would fit you?
Probably a ton of things. My finisher is kinda similar to a Diamond Cutter/RKO. Kinda. Kinda.
What’s something you enjoy about Japan that isn’t wrestling-related? Any funny stories when you first started in Japan culture wise?
I love all of Japan. I love the food. I love the culture, so respectful, so nice. SO MUCH nicer than Americans. I can always tell when I’ve been in Japan for a month or whatever and I land in Detroit or Minneapolis and I see how rude the workers there are being.. I’m reminded that I’m back in America.
I love America, don’t get me wrong. But we could take a lesson in respect for the Japanese.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years I see myself in the prime of my wrestling career. I’m 34 years old, and I honestly feel like I’m just getting started now.
What is your greatest accomplishment outside of wrestling?
Being a Dad.
I have 3 sons.
And big ass house.
So maybe my greatest accomplishment is buying a big ass house for them to live in.
Would you encourage your children to follow in their fathers footsteps and get into wrestling?
I want my boys to do whatever makes them happiest. If they went that route. I’d help them as much as possible. Hopefully they will be doctors and I won’t have to worry about that.
What is a special hobby you do fans may not know about?
I’d like to release my own beer someday.
When? I don’t know. But that’s a goal of mine. If anybody can help me get that process started, lets do this..
Who has been the one person you have met in your life that you became a kid again upon meeting in terms of excitement?
Any charities you want to mention that you hold dear?
Anything having to do with Breast Cancer. My Grandmother was diagnosed with that and beat it.
Cancer’s a disease that needs to be eliminated.
Describe yourself in 15 words or less to anybody who wanted to sum you up as a person.
We would like to thank the great wrestling fans at therealtsm.com and puroresufan.com for submitting the questions for this interview. Of course we’d like to extend a huge thank you to Karl Anderson for agreeing to participate in this interview!