I recently had the distinct pleasure of speaking with talented singer/songwriter Ian Abel from the Ian Abel Band, whose tracks “Shoes” and “Not Afraid To Die” were featured in two AEW pay per views, including the inaugural Double or Nothing event back in 2019.
Abel revealed to me where the origin of”Shoes,” which was utilized in the incredible video package hyping up the now classic Cody vs. Dustin showdown, was written, and how “Not Afraid To Die” fit perfectly into the Darby Allin vs. Cody TNT title matchup at Full Gear 2020. Abel is also a big rasslin fan and talked about the Undertaker getting him invested, how much he loves Darby Allin and Jungle Boy, and more. Highlights and video can be found below.
Says the Undertaker got him into wrestling:
The Deadman, Undertaker. Being a kid and seeing him come out and not understanding what wrestling was and just going like, “Who is this guy? Is he raised from the dead? He kills people and puts them in coffins?” That.
When he wrote the song “Shoes” which was featured in the Cody vs. Dustin match at Double or Nothing 2019:
I wrote that song when I was 19. I skipped class in college and went to the piano room to flush an idea out. Cody was looking for a particular sound…it was in Red Dead Redemption…something in that game that he heard and he wanted something in that vein. I was like, “Well here’s this song Shoes I have,” to kind of just to prove that we could do it. So I sat down and wrote when ended up being “Not Afraid To Die.” For the first two weeks or we were talking and going back and forth about it, and I had no actual idea that he wanted “Shoes” until he sent this email in all caps that said, “I WANT SHOES.” It blew me away at first. I didn’t know who the match was with, and then I come to find out it’s him versus Dustin. Then it made sense to me.
His personal thoughts on the matchup and how he believes it helped elevate the song:
It took what I think is a great song and put it to this whole new level. They played it right before the pay per view, then they played it again right before the match, the whole vignette, and then the match happens and now Dustin is bleeding and the way it ended…JR and them got tears in their eyes…I’m sitting there going, “Holy shit dude my song was apart of this?” I’m blown away. I thought I had a great song but that elevated to something…there’s no way I could have seen that coming. It’s like the match of the century.
How is other AEW featured track, “Not Afraid To Die,” was originally written for Double or Nothing but ended up being used for Full Gear 2020’s matchup between Darby Allin and Cody Rhodes:
I went one night to my rehearsal space with a bottle of whiskey, me, and my guitar. I watched some Cody highlights that I could find on Youtube, and I watched some Dusty stuff, some Dustin stuff, not even knowing they’d be fighting, and “Not Afraid To Die” came out. I go the next day, Saturday, to meet up with John, him, our buddy Reid got involved…we just hashed it out. I laid down the acoustic, the music of it really kind of came out in one day and everything just fell into place. I’m super fortunate to be able to work with such incredible people. Not only to have worked with AEW but my friends are incredible sound designers, incredible recording engineers and mixers. We were able to get together and do everything in a day, and I was stoked because I was thinking, “man I wrote this song and they’re gonna use it for Double or Nothing?” That’s not the case. Now I’m sitting there going, “Man I’ve got this haunting cool ballad thing.” What am I going to do with it?
Says he didn’t think Darby was going to beat Cody, but when he did it made the song even cooler:
I didn’t think Darby was going to win that one. I really didn’t, and then he did and I was like, “Oh crap… This is different.” Made it even cooler because I was like, “Wow my song was used for that and Darby when Darby won the TNT championship?” That’s a twist, and made it even cooler for the song.
His thoughts on Darby Allin:
I’m a big fan of Darby Allin, especially to see where he’s started and to see how he’s grown into this super fan favorite. I believe Jericho was talking before about how he loves wrestling the young and up-and-coming guys because there’s people in the company who they think are going to be favorites, then you look in the crowd and you got kids dressed like Orange Cassidy, you got kids dressed like Darby Allin. Darby is this half-dead, he does not care, you’re gonna hit him and he’s only going to come back stronger. The Coffin-Drop might be my favorite move if I really think abot it because it’s so cool. Whose gonna get up and do a trust-fall? From the top rope or off ladders or wherever.
Who he thinks will be the next breakout star in AEW:
Scorpio Sky is somebody who I think is remarkably improved. His character and his acting and everything, when he’s on the mic, everything that Scorpio does is just a little bit more elevated now. I think in time Jungle Boy. I like Jungle Boy, I like the character. I think maybe he should lean into his family name, the Hollywood Bad Boy or something like that.