Darby Allin never wanted to be the skateboarding wrestler.
The All Elite Wrestling star resisted it at first because of pro wrestling’s unfriendly history with the skateboarder gimmick, including the late-80’s Dynamic Dudes tag team in WCW that carried boards to the ring but couldn’t ride them.
Skateboarding is not a joke to Allin. It’s a hobby and a passion he wants to protect. He has ramps in his house and is currently applying another of his loves, filmmaking, toward a skate video when he’s not wrestling.
“I didn’t want to make it look like I was taking skateboarding and using that as like a marketing thing for wrestling,” Allin said.
With a little prodding from Chris Jericho and some introspection, he relented.
“He didn’t want to ride the skateboard down,” Jericho said. “I go, ‘No, you’re riding the f–king skateboard down every night.’ ”
Allin added: “Then I said, ‘S–t, I really actually skate’ so I might as well actually use it.”
Since then a skateboard has become a key piece to his persona and the storylines that have fueled his quick rise in AEW. The 27-year-old Seattle native jumped off the top rope on a skateboard and stomped on the back of Joey Janella at the All Out pay-per-view in August. The move was later nicknamed “back disaster” by skateboarding legend Tony Hawk. During his latest feud, Sammy Guevara took Allin out of action in storyline by jamming the skateboard into his throat.
It’s also a small symbol of Allin’s growing backstage relationship with Jericho, who he’s hit with a jumping clothesline after riding the skateboard down the ramp.
Allin wrestled most of their AEW championship match in October with his hands handcuffed behind his back – something he had done twice before on the independent scene. He brought the idea to Jericho two weeks prior to the match and the former AEW champion switched it to a street fight just for that spot.
“If you ask Darby who has been behind the scenes pulling the strings to make him a star, it’s Uncle Jericho,” Jericho said.
Allin, who is also working on his own full-length film, believes Jericho sees his drive and his desire to explore new things creatively. He doesn’t need to be instructed to do something, he’ll shoot a video or come up with creative tweak and push for it.
“I feel like people like Chris sees that,” Allin said. “They know that this kid wants it as opposed to someone who sits on their ass and waits to be told what to do. Half the time, I’m not told what to do and I just make a video. I’ll show up and be like ‘Yo put this on TV.’ It’s nice that way. He’s helped out a lot bringing that to the light of day.”
AEW is Allin’s big break in wrestling. At one point he was homeless and living out of his car for around year and cooking dinner on a George Foreman grill he brought to the gym before starting with Evolve in 2016. He constantly thinks back to that time and it drives everything he does.
“It’s insane,” Allin said of how far he’s come. “I’m not taking anything for granted. That’s why I work as hard as I do and produce as much video as I do is because I want this to last as long as possible I don’t want it to be a thing that ends tomorrow.”
Allin knows full well how quickly things can end. He survived a car crash as a 5-year-old in which his uncle, who was driving drunk, died. Allin said it left him feeling half dead inside and it’s the reason he wears the black and white paint on one side of his face. Allin’s finishing move is the leap-of-faith Coffin Drop from the top rope.
It was a story he told in the YouTube video that introduced him in AEW. He likened it to a package for a contestant on “American Idol” or “American Ninja Warrior” that makes the audience decide if they want to support them or not.
“Just because everybody thinks, ‘Ah this guy he’s painting his [face],” Allin said. “It must be for like ‘ha ha cool’ or ‘badass creepy’ [reason], like no there is a story behind it and I want people to know it right away to get it over it with. I wanted to open up to people right away.”
Couple that with his slim 5-foot-8 stature and his fearless wrestling style and it led to Allin really connecting with AEW fans. He felt it from his first match with Cody Rhodes, a time-limit draw at Fyter Fest in June.
“I felt like walking in there nobody knew who I was,” Allin said. “Walking out, everybody is like this kid is willing to do anything to win and tell a story. It’s kind of like what people say about Jeff Hardy.”
The audience has stayed behind him since and he believes one reason is younger fans can see the wrestlers in AEW are “not shackled down” creatively.
He returned to a big pop from the live “AEW Dynamite” crowd in Atlanta in February to confront Guevara after weeks away to set up their match at the Revolution pay-per-view. The reaction meant everything to Allin.
“That was validation for all my hard work, everything that I’ve done,” he said. “That was something different for sure. I wasn’t expecting it. I didn’t know what to expect to be honest, but I wasn’t expecting that.”
His next goal is to main event an AEW pay-per-view because it means the company has faith in him. He’d also like to try to land a match with Kenny Omega because he believes they can create “something unique and different.”
Unique and different is something Allin continues to show himself to be. He’s the wrestler that rides a skateboard to ring, but he’s let the audience in on so much more about who he is from the start, and it’s paying off.
“I feel like when you tell people’s real life stories prior to them getting introduced to the audience, people have that connection, kind of have that feeling for them,” Allin said. “I feel like it’s just basic to let people know your personal story so you know they’ll let you in as much as possible.”
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