Darby Allin Plans to Go ‘All Out’ Against CM Punk at AEW Pay-Per-View
Seven. It has been more than seven years since CM Punk last wrestled. Around the same time, Darby Allin was just starting his career — a fact not lost on Allin, who was chosen to face Punk for his first match since 2014 at AEW’s All Out pay-per-view on Sunday, September 5.
The 28-year-old daredevil has emerged as one of All Elite Wrestling’s most popular performers. And with his legendary partner in paint Sting by his side, Allin’s star has only gotten brighter. The former TNT champion’s impressive credentials make him a worthy opponent for Punk, who is looking to start his anticipated return in a big way before a hometown crowd of Chicago faithful.
We caught up with Allin to see where his head is at preparing for a monumental night.
What has it been like to be back on the road?
Darby Allin: It’s something I will never take for granted again. I think at the beginning of AEW I was so caught up with traveling for the first time that I really didn’t stop and smell the roses. Now every time I’m traveling, I like to take advantage of it and explore the town I’m in, go to different skate parks and take it all in.
How is it to have that freedom and trust to create your story?
Having that freedom allows the fans to see firsthand who I am and what I’m capable of. I wasn’t given a crappy character. I wasn’t told what to do or say. That creative freedom means the world to someone like myself. I take full advantage of it.
Is there anywhere you’re pulling inspiration from these days?
I would say lately it has been skateboard videos — watching someone battle a trick and see the anguish someone goes through to learn something insane. That and music videos.
What’s the best advice Sting has given you?
Don’t listen to people and do things your way.
How is it getting to know the man behind the paint?
Before he came to AEW, I would change in the boiler room because I like to be alone and away from everybody. I like to stay away from drama and gossip and all these meaningless conversations. When he came to AEW, he has this private locker room. He says, “Hey man, my locker room is your locker room now. Come stay in it whenever you want.” So it’s literally me and him changing in that locker room now. It’s pretty cool to have him open the door for me and let me in. We’ve really gotten the chance to know each other. We talk all day. Our friendship goes beyond onscreen, and it’s awesome.
How do you react to all these new names coming into the company?
Whenever I see new names come in, I get excited because it makes me want to step my game up. I hope it does the same for everyone else. If anyone is intimidated by someone coming in, they are in the wrong locker room. They don’t need to be here because I want to be with people who are not intimidated and want to kick ass. That’s what I want to do when these new names come up.
You have this match with CM Punk. How much of an influence has his journey been on you?
If there is anything I took from CM Punk it was being yourself is good enough. You don’t have to change who you are based on everyone else’s expectations of who you are. It is going to be a very special moment being there on Sunday with him.
When did you find out you would be his first opponent in AEW?
It was that day [of his debut during the “First Dance” episode of Rampage]. I knew right then and there I needed to do what I’ve always been doing since I came to AEW — that’s to continue proving people wrong. When I heard the news, I knew it was go-time. A lot of people watching aren’t familiar with me. I want to show them why I need to be in that spot. It’s go-time. Let’s get to work.
What does it mean to be chosen for this match?
It’s validation for my hard work. I’m willing to do things that nobody else in the company is willing to do. Give me an inch, and I’ll take a mile. I’ll fall down a flight of stairs to push a storyline. I’ll go off on a promo to push a storyline. I think people are starting to understand that I really love this more than anybody. Sunday, I’m going to show that. You’re going to see something wild.
Is your approach to this match different than others you’ve been a part of?
It’s a lot different because I’m in the ring with someone who hasn’t been in the ring for seven years. There is the factor of the unknown. I’m hyped. I talked to [AEW president] Tony Khan about it. He understands how important this is to me and that there is a lot I have to go out and do. I thrive under high-pressure situations. I talked to [AEW producer/coach] Dean Malenko about it. I value his opinion. Besides that, I don’t talk to too many people. I usually keep to myself in my own little world.
You being yourself has resonated with a lot of fans. Tell me about that connection you’ve built with the audience.
The fans see that my real-life persona just comes through the TV. They know that I’m not pulling any strings, that this isn’t a gimmick. It’s who I am in real life. I’m just a skater kid. It just comes off that here is this dude who came from nothing and essentially did the unthinkable and became everything. I put everything in there. I leave nothing out. It’s cool to have the fans connect with me. It means everything to me.
What’s the feeling like in the locker room knowing AEW is building this crazy momentum?
I know when we had the “First Dance” in Chicago that there was an energy that wasn’t there before. You knew nothing was going to be the same after. I want to keep riding that wave.
What can fans expect from your match with Punk at All Out?
I’m definitely the most focused I’ve been. I’ve been sitting up for days just thinking about what I’ve been able to accomplish with this match and how important it is. It’s the most important match of my whole life. I would be a fool if I didn’t think that. I just want to deliver the emotion to the fans. It’s going to be a very emotional night because there is such a level of the unknown going into the match. There is the unknown of what Punk can do after not wrestling for seven years, but also of what I’m willing to do. He has never felt what I’m willing to do. I’m excited.
AEW Dynamite, Wednesdays, 8/7c, TNT
AEW Rampage, Fridays, 10/9c, TNT
AEW All Out, September 5, 8/7c, Pay-Per-View (Buy In Pre Show 7/6c)