Interviews

Interview With . . . Darby Allin

After his huge TNT Title win at AEW Full Gear, Darby Allin has been the talk of professional wrestling. This week, the new ‘Face of TNT’ sat down with Inside The Ropes‘ own Kenny McIntosh to talk about winning the title, working with Cody, how important the Jericho match was last year, comparisons to Jeff Hardy and much more.

I’m joined by the one and only TNT champion, Darby Allin. Darby. How you doing?

I’m good, man, just chillin out here, doing a bunch of videos and stuff like that, doing some promos.

How is it being the new TNT champion, the face of TNT & winning the title? Talk to us about your big win.

It’s been crazy, but the one thing I have to do more than ever is hustle more than I ever have before just to show people that I belong here at the top and nobody is going to question anything about my work. So I’m in constant hustle mode right now. I can’t stop and smell the roses.

There’s been this long-standing story in AEW with you and Cody dating back to last summer, and it feels like one of your big destiny moments would be when you finally defeat Cody. When did you guys realise that it was something special with you and Cody working together? Because it is a really good long-term story.

From day one, I would say we knew. Cody’s the guy who got me in this company, so I would say he was the one who I clicked with.

2020’s been such a crazy year with COVID and everything that’s been going on. Were you able to enjoy the moment at Full Gear of getting that big win, holding the title and just kind taking it all in?

Absolutely, I was definitely able to take in that moment as much as I could, but the moment I had the belt, I knew the next day I’d be hustling to make this thing mean more than it’s ever meant before. And I know that’s like a big thing to do, but that’s my goal, is to elevate the title more.

We saw that when Cody was champion, he did the open challenge. Do you plan to do something similar or do you have a different way that you want it to go? Have you thought about if you want to make your title reign feel different from Cody’s?

I want more people in the company to step up and actually have long-term feuds with me, and not just open challenges. Personally, I want to have long-term feuds with people that have earned it, just like I’ve earned it. I don’t want people to walk out there just randomly and get shots, you know, I put a lot of work into this. And I want people to do the same.

Ricky Starks is someone who you had a killer match with on Dynamite recently, and it kind of feels like you and him are going to be locking up again. It feels like he could be another guy for you that works out as a long term program that the two of you could benefit from?

Yeah, no, absolutely. Ricky and me are a lot alike. He’s hungry. You know, on the independent scene he got the s**t end of the stick, just like I kind of did. We were never main-eventers. We were never doing that. Now we are on national television and that’s all that matters. And I would love to step in the ring with him again and have him step up for the TNT Championship this time.

You mentioned, when I brought up Cody, that he brought you into the company. How did that come about that Cody came to you? Now, it would be strange to think of AEW without Darby Allin – because you’re such an integral character to the show.

Yeah, I just heard that he was interested in hiring me. And the moment I heard that, I just blew his phone up and I was like, “Dude, I need this, I need this. Like, there’s nowhere else I want to go. I want to have my creative freedom there. This is it, get me involved.” So I just called him off the hook.

Especially when AEW was starting, you probably could have gone anywhere. You could have gone to WWE, you could’ve gone to AEW. you’ve obviously made the right choice coming into AEW and it’s been a big success. What made you think AEW was the right place for you?

When I heard the words “creative freedom”, you know, if I’m going to make it in this world, I’m going to do it as Darby Allin – no-one else. I’m not going to have anybody change who I am. So AEW is my calling card.

One of the cool things about your gimmick is the way that you are portrayed on TV where we see a lot of vignettes with you, whether it was the stuff with Sammy Guevara with the masks or the the car with the face on TNT spray painted on it. It’s very character-driven. I feel like, in wrestling, that’s one of the most intriguing parts. Is that important to you that you’re able to explore the character rather than purely telling stories in-ring?

Oh, yeah. Those promos are just as important to me as the in-ring stuff. Without that, you know, I’m not going to sit on my ass and expect people to just know who I am. I got to show them that. So I’m constantly filming promos and doing all this stuff. Like just what you’ll see on this week’s Dynamite is probably one of the more crazier promos that I’ve filmed. I melted my shirt. I actually melted my whole pair of pants and my legs all burnt. But I’m chillin’.

We might have different definitions of chilling, but I’m looking forward to seeing it on TV. Moving on from there, one of the comparisons that gets brought up with you a lot is Jeff Hardy, have you always had Jeff Hardy comparisons and how do you feel about it?

I feel fine about it. You know, I never searched to get compared to Jeff Hardy, like I never care to compare – but if it’s there, it’s there. But to me, there’s always one Darby Allin and one Jeff Hardy.

We’ve got Matt Hardy in AEW. Do you think if Jeff Hardy ever came to AEW, is that a match you would want to have given all the comparisons that people seem to make about you guys?

Yeah, absolutely. I would love to step in the ring with someone who is as creative and driven as artistically as he is, I feel like he would always be able to go. Even with Matt, I want to step in the ring with him and just create some art.

You’re also known for some of your crazier stunts and the big one that people talk about is Brian Cage at All Out with the body bag getting thrown onto the ramp. I mean, when you’re doing that, how do you prepare for it? What’s your mindset going into something like that?

The secret to those are you don’t think about it, you just go with it, whatever happens, happens. You can’t think about it. The moment you start panicking is the moment you start getting hurt. So you just go with the wind, man.

With all these risky moves, are you looking for ways to be outside the box rather than be compared to what other people are doing?

Oh, absolutely. My tolerance for fear and crazy stuff is so high. So what is base-level, what is safe to me may be extremely dangerous to somebody else. So I just sit and it gives me that extra edge because me being a smaller guy coming into the ring and saying I’m reckless or fearless….. I don’t just say it with my words. I mean, I show them every week in videos. So that’s why those videos mean so much to me. So I can show the world that I can take an ass kicking because if I kick my own ass, what makes you think that I can’t take someone else’s ass kicking?

We talked about the videos a little bit, we saw the one with Tony Hawk. You’ve had all these cameo people come into your videos. Are you always thinking about what the next video is?

Yeah, I just want to bring my world into the world of wrestling as much as possible.

You’ve had an interesting life. You went to catering school, you’re a skateboarder but what drew you to wrestling? What was the thing that made you think it could be your full time gig?

I was always in love with wrestling growing up, but I fell out of love with it around 2009, it was just so unbearable to watch. But before that, I would say just these people putting their lives on the line, putting everything they got into it, it’s such a beautiful art. It’s so crazy what you emotions you can draw from it and captivate people. It’s unlike anything. It’s literally unlike anything in the world.

Going back to the creative freedom thing in AEW, is it a case of like when you want to go and shoot something somewhere, you can just go and do it? You’ve got that much input as to what goes on Dynamite involving Darby Allin?

Yeah, exactly. Just yesterday, we flew out to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area to go film at a church my friend bought, he painted the whole thing black and we flew out there and I set myself on fire in the church and nobody even had any questions. They were just like “Yeah, you do you, dude.”

I want to ask about a couple of the guys you’ve got to work with so far in AEW. You had the big match with Jericho last year. What was it like working with Jericho? And did you feel that match was important for people kind getting to know you more and taking you more seriously as a top guy in AEW?

Yeah, that specific match and situation was do or die. That was my first main event spot and I knew I couldn’t squander it and I had to kick ass. So working with a guy like Jericho, I had all the confidence in the world that we could tell a story. And he’s like the pro’s pro so I just knew that it was do or die if Darby Allin was going to live or die at the top of the main event scene in AEW.

Jericho has said in interviews that he’s picked the guys he wants to work with. Is that cool for you that he saw something in you and wanted to mix it up with you?

Yeah, man, it’s good to have someone pick you, especially on week three of television, you know, the company’s so new, the television’s so new, you’re drawing in all of this new audience. So to have that trust and respect for me to do that means the world. And, you know, I’m not gonna let anybody down.

More recently, you’ve got to work with Jon Moxley who you’ve worked with in the past, but you got to work with him in AEW, you guys had the title match, you guys are teaming together. What was it like working with him here and showing more of what you can do.

Yeah, Moxley is like my go to guy. I think it’s funny because both me and Mox, we’re like the most loners in the company so it’s cool that, he kind of tells me things like, “Yo, man, just be careful out there.” He’s kind of like that role of looking out for me like longevity-wise. So picking his brain about everything is pretty nice.

Do you think about longevity? Is that important? Is that something that factors into your plan?

No, not really. I don’t know, man, I’m just going with the flow, whatever life… Whatever life is and whatever this is.

We’ve talked about 2020 being pretty crazy, how have you dealt with with it all given you guys have kept working through everything?

Dude, there’s there’s nothing you can do to prepare for this. Mentally-wise, though, when we were performing without a crowd, that was totally fine for me only because I was used to wrestling like crap indies where there’s four people in the audience. So I had the edge.

Last question I wanted to ask is, I know you say you’re living in the moment, but what are your future goals in the company whether it be World Champion, making yourself synonymous with the TNT title, what’s next?

I want to make the TNT Championship one of the most important things in professional wrestling, period. I want to main event, a pay-per-view. That’s a big one. So right now the TNT Championship is my biggest concern and then main-eventing a pay-per view.

I want to thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it. Please don’t set yourself in fire again for Dynamite so we can get you there. And yeah, hopefully we can do one of these in person soon when people are allowed travel again.

Yeah, man, take care. Thanks for having me.

Thanks to Darby Allin for taking the time. You can follow Darby on Twitter here.
You can catch AEW Dynamite every Wednesday Night at 8e/7c on TNT or sign up for AEW Plus on FITE TV if you’re outside the US.