10 June 2022
Don Frye was a mixed martial artist, turned professional wrestler and actor. He won the UFC 8 and Ultimate Ultimate 96 in his fear as a UFC fighter. Frye retired from the UFC in 1997 to start his wrestling career. The company he joined was New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) and was one of the top wrestlers.
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Professional Wrestling Career
Frye was first taken under the wings of trainers Curt Hennig and Brad Rheingans, after finishing off his career in the UFC and transitioning over to wrestling. His first match was against Kazuyuki Fujita under New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW), whom he had beaten. He began to become a star in the wrestling arena by the following year, in 1998, when he had already become a main heel for the company.
On 4 April 1998, Frye finished in first place at the Antonio Final Opponent tournament, gaining his place to wrestle against the NJPW founder, Antonio Inoki, in his last ever UFC fight. On that evening, Inoki defeated Frye. He went on to join Masahiro Chono’s team 2000 at the very start of 1999. He did so after a dispute with Kensuke Sasaki and Scott Norton. He went on to challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship two times but lost both of them.
Frye left Team 2000 after just two brief years. He went on to join BATT and made another try at the IWPG championships in July 2021. He lost once more, coming up against Kazuyuki Fujita. Later that year, he did go on to be crowned the winner of the GI World Climax. He went back to fighting MMA again after that for a while.
In 2003, he took to the stage at the Fighting World of Japan wrestling competition, fighting in it twice that year. He also took part in the All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) on 26 October of the same year. There, he lost his battle for the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship against his opponent, Toshiaki Kawada. Two years later he was defeated by Jamal in the AJPW Wrestle-1 Grand Prix.
2007 was the year that saw Frye take part in his appearance at the Inoki Genome Federation as a professional wrestler. He was beaten by submission by Josh Barnett on 8 September 2007. The next year, he featured in the Pro Wrestling Expo tournaments, losing both on Day 1 and in the six-man tag he took part in on Day 3.
Returning to wrestling
In 2013, he returned to the professional wrestling ring after some time off, where he teamed up with Keiji Mutoh to beat Yoshihiro Takayama and Masayuki Kono. A brawl broke out after the match between Frye and Takayama also.
Don Frye has had an extensive acting career. The first main movie he acted in was Godzilla: Final Wars in 2004, where he played the part of Captain Douglas Gordon. He felt a bit less in control when acting in the movie than he had done in the ring, but said the experience still brought him fun. Ryuhei Kitamura, the director, said he created the role with the idea of Frye as the actor, being an avid follower of the fighter and wrestler.
In 2005, Frye acted in several movies. He appeared in Just Another Romantic Wrestling Comedy, where he acted as Rocco Piedra. As Piedra, he led as the father of a family of wrestling fans who had hoped for their child to become a star in the ring. No Rules and Nagurimono were two other shows in which Frye had been given a role to act in. The following year, he featured in Miami Vice, playing a member of the Aryan race, was a voice actor for The Ant Bully, and acted in Big Stan alongside the comedy actor Rob Schneider.
Appearing in commercials
He’s been involved in many commercials since then, with a lot of them taking place in Japan. The last one was a TV commercial for a product called “UFO” brought to market by Nissan Foods. He went on to appear in one episode of the popular It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. He provided the voice cover on another occasion more lately in his acting career for Matt Ninesister in an animation of Even More Swag.