AEW superstar Darby Allin recently spoke with Sports Illustrated ahead of his TNT championship tournament matchup against The Inner Circle’s Sammy Guevara on tonight’s Dynamite. Highlights from the interview are below.
Being in a car accident at five and why he paints his face:
I paint my face because 50 percent of me is dead inside,” says Allin. “When I was five, my uncle was driving drunk. I was in the car with him. We crashed and he passed away. That’s why I have this ‘Nothing’s over ’til you’re underground’ tattoo on my chest,” says Allin, who proudly carries the shadows and ghosts of those in his life that left the world too soon. “A lot of people think that’s why I’m straight edge, and to a degree it is. And it’s from watching close friends, some who were very talented in the world of skateboarding, blow their opportunities because of drugs or alcohol. I made a commitment to myself that, when I set out to do everything I wanted to do, I couldn’t blame it on drugs or alcohol.
Being off the card at Full Gear:
I sat in the crowd, and that ate me alive,” says Allin. “I sat there and watched the show, and I said to myself, ‘I’m going to put in as much work as I ever have, whether it’s video or matches, to be on the next pay-per-view. There were people that probably expected me to be off the pay-per-view. I’m here to prove people wrong. I’m not here to make friends and treat this as a clubhouse. People here are super supportive, and I appreciate that, but this isn’t friendship hour. For me, this is about proving people wrong and putting AEW on the map.
Feeling like now is his time:
Proving people wrong, that’s what drives me,” says the 27-year-old Allin. “I’ve always believed I belonged in this spot. Others may have not—[due to my] size, [or lack of] years. This is my fifth year in wrestling, and a lot of people say, ‘Your time will come, your time will come.’ No mother——, my time’s now. I feel it and I know it.I knew I had what it took,” says Allin. “I saw a lot of people handed the ball when they didn’t have what it takes. If it’s a size thing, I ain’t going to f—— take steroids. If it’s a years thing, I just don’t think that should matter. I’ve seen people wrestling in their first year better than some people I’ve seen who’ve wrestled for 10 years. When I started, my first week in wrestling, I was told I needed to be a character. Someone said I should be a gas station attendant. I was like, ‘What? No.’ There are so many different directions you can go in wrestling, but the one way you should is to follow your heart.
Facing Chris Jericho on Dynamite for the AEW world title:
I was ready to show what I was capable of,” says Allin. “For them to have that faith in me early, that was Week 3 of TV. I was still unknown at that point to the global audience, and there were nerves, of course, because I had to hit it out of the park so those opportunities could come more often.
How he feels being in the ring:
The way I act in the ring, I feel like that inside every day, even when I’m not wrestling,” says Allin. “In the ring, it’s like letting a caged animal be free. I was brought here to be myself and nothing else. Going in the ring, that’s my therapy. And if you want to see what I’m capable of next, just watch.