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.
Where & when were you born and what was life like growing up?
I was born in Lincoln Park, Michigan. But, my Dad ended up moving the family to Asheville, North Carolina and I grew up there. I grew up in the country, man. Farms and trucks and hunting and fishing and all that.
You had a baseball scholarship. Which school? Did you play with or against any notable athletes? Any good stories such as a game winning home run or big catch? Did you deal with any scouts from MLB?
I played at Mars Hill College. It’s a Division II school out of Mars Hill, North Carolina. Again, in the mountains and in the country.
In high school I played against a dude named Chris Narveson who went on the play in the MLB for numerous teams. It’s funny because he now plays for the Yakult Swallows, which is a team in Tokyo, Japan.
I had so many sweet home runs, I wouldn’t even know where to start. I was invited out of high school to a Tampa Bay Devil Rays tryout. Obviously nothing came of it! Cause here I am. I was GREAT in high school… College? That’s a different story! Ha!
What made you decide to give up your baseball scholarship and then to go into wrestling?
Man, I loved wrestling ever since I was a little kid. I watched that documentary on MTV called ‘True Life I’m a Pro Wrestler” that followed Les Thatcher’s school in Cincinnati. I watched it 500 times. That was it. I was sold.
While training in 2000, you suffered a concussion at the hands of Derek Neikirk. What were the details of the incident and did you ever have any concerns getting back into the ring given the effects it had on you? Are you worried about any long term effects given what Chris Nowinski (and other professional athletes) have gone through?
Neikirk went for a drop kick and I thought something else was coming. I had only been training at that point for about 3 months so I had no idea about anything. It knocked me silly.
Now that I’ve been wrestling for 12 years I’ve been knocked silly at least a couple of hundred times. Am I worried about long term effects? It’s definitely in the back of my mind, but as athletes we just have to take care of ourselves as best we can so that we can still live a quality life when this is all over..
What was it like working with veteran talents like Jimmy Valiant and Jerry Lawler early in your career? Were there any tips during those matches that you were able to incorporate into your own ring style?
Jimmy Valiant was one of my heroes when I was growing up. I was beyond nervous working with him. I had only been wrestling for about 2 years at the time I wrestled him. He taught me a lot about crowd psychology. He didn’t actually sit me down and TEACH it to me. But being in the ring with him and watching him do what he did taught me.
The match I was in the ring with Jerry Lawler was very exciting at the time. But it was an elimination match. And he was on the other team. And the dipshits in the match eliminated me before I go to even lock up with brother Lawler.. ha! So whatever to that…
You got repackaged as “Machine Gun” Karl Anderson on the West Coast. Why did you change your name and what was the story behind both the nickname and the addition of Anderson as a last name? Were you aware of C.W. Anderson’s run in ECW prior to the name change?
Man, I moved to Los Angeles ready to do whatever it took to go as far as I possibly could in Pro Wrestling. I landed in LA and had a match that Sunday and they told me my new name was Karl “machine Gun” Anderson. Because I looked and ‘Worked” like an Anderson.
I hated it.
I loved watching Arn and Ole Anderson when I was a kid. But I didn’t want to just use their name for no reason..
But, I was taught to do what I was told and don’t ask questions and I honestly was in no position to question anything. So I did what I was told. As the years went on I was able to get away from the ‘being an Anderson’ thing I think pretty well and just carve my own name as just ‘Karl Anderson Pro Wrestler’ than someone associated with the Anderson name for no reason at all..
What is your training regimen?
I try to get in the gym everyday.
NOW, before anybody challenges that. If I have a hangover, there’s a hell of a chance I’m NOT going to the gym. And in Japan….. I have lots of hangovers..
What has been the most painful exercise you’ve had to perform at the New Japan Dojo? The intensity of the training style in Japan is well known. Has it mostly stayed the same as decades before based on any conversations with older wrestlers?
I think the training as a whole in New Japan has probably lightened up. I think back in the day they used to have to do 5000 squats every single day. Everybody. And nowadays the younger guys have to do a shit load of brutal brutal training. But I’m gonna be honest.. I can do whatever the hell I want.
Pro Wrestling Guerrilla
You’ve mentioned that you didn’t enjoy yourself while with PWG and California independents. Was it simply a lack of a fit in the promotion wrestling wise or more related to personality conflicts with other wrestlers?
Did I say that?! I didn’t hate PWG at all. I can’t imagine myself saying that ever. But who knows.. haha!
I HATED Los Angeles in general. I’m a country boy, I hated moving to that big ass city and dealing with the bullshit that went on in the Los Angeles Dojo. And the California Indy’s are pretty ridiculous as well..
BUT the exception I have to say is PWG. They always treated me well and gave me an opportunity when no one else would.
PWG is one of the reasons I got booked in Japan as well.
I hated California. I didn’t hate PWG..
Do you ever miss/want to go back to Pro Wrestling Guerrilla? Could you see an instance where you’d go back if the answer is no?
I’d love to work for PWG. Anytime I am free.
Do you watch the current PWG product?
I do not at all. All of my friends work there but I’m pretty out of the loop with whats going on. I have kids at home now and I honestly don’t see myself having time to sit down and watch much tv let alone any wrestling..
Please keep your eyes on culturecrossfire.com in the near future for Part 2 of our Q&A interview with Machine Gun Karl Anderson!!
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!