Since the launch of All Elite Wrestling in late 2019, the wrestling industry has gone through some dark days. Aside from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 virus, there have been shifts in rosters, negative economic developments, major sex scandals, and entire promotions going out of business.
In other words, it's been awfully dreary.
But on the bright side, during that time, we've also witnessed the emergence and development of exciting, young talent. All over the world, we've seen some fresh faces pop up that give us hope for a bright future for years to come.
Standing among them is AEW's Darby Allin. Since the debut of Dynamite, he has become one of the series' most compelling characters, and is one of the more popular performers in the promotion.
The painted, skateboarding daredevil has drawn a lot of attention for his intriguing look and character, along with his wild ring style. Currently the TNT Champion, he's been getting a lot of airtime on Dynamite, and he's found an ally in another shadowy figure, the legendary Sting.
In the past, a dark figure like Darby Allin would have probably been cast as a heel, a Missing Link-type character who lurks in the shadows and is borderline crazy. He probably would be in a stable of fellow freaks, and would have never really had the chance to shine.
But things have certainly changed. For the past 30 years, those types of wrestlers have now become fan favorites, garnering cult followings for their murky personas. Seemingly, the colder they appear, the more heat they generate.
Darby Allin has become one of those guys. Since the launch of the company, Allin has blasted off like a jet-black rocket ship, culminating in him capturing the AEW TNT title from Cody two months ago. His success has been a happy surprise for the promotion's fan base. At just 27 years old, this gloomy character seems to have many dazzling days ahead.
And, he also appeals to that all-important 18-49 demographic.
That's not sarcasm, by the way. The attempt to appeal to that age group is not a cliche, it's a fact. Advertisers absolutely love programming that attracts a younger audience, a group of kids who have spent their entire lives on the internet, and have been exposed to more things, more quickly, than any era before them.
Darby Allin has the look and personality that reflects that same generation: brooding, confused, and self-conscious on the outside, but guarded and self-aware on the inside. He is almost a real, live painting of everything they see themselves to be: damaged, but resilient.
This week, Darby Allin will once again be in the familiar, underdog role, when he defends the TNT Championship against Brian Cage on Dynamite.
It will be a battle between two polar opposites: The perfectly sculpted "Machine" is built like a Greek god and originates from sunny California. Meanwhile, Darby Allin weighs 170 pounds, looks like your average skateboarder, and hails from the cloudy city of Seattle.
This matchup represents a lot about why he has such a loyal fan following. It's reflective of Darby Allin's shining appeal, especially to younger viewers. He's the the guy who is constantly fighting from behind, making the comeback, or standing up to bullies.
No matter what, he will always be the outcast vs. the all star. He will always be the weird kid vs. the quarterback. David vs. Goliath.
Whatever metaphor you want to use, It's a role perfectly fit for him and one that we can all relate to at some level. It's a beacon of hope for anyone who has ever been beaten down; The idea of being the phoenix that rises above the ashes. That's the psychological candy that a shadowy persona like Allin feeds us.
So, no matter how "dark" a character that Darby Allin portrays, he's proven, on many levels, that he's a bright light in wrestling today. And, he has the chance to be one of its shining stars.
Published 12 Jan 2021, 01:01 IST