Eddie Kingston is one of the toughest warriors in All Elite Wrestling. At the same time, the popular performer isn’t afraid to show emotion and wears his heart on his sleeve. It’s the proud New Yorker’s openness about life struggles that has strengthened that connection with the audience. He is unapologetically him. Take it or leave it.
His rival Chris Jericho would do the latter. He has made their feud deeply personal after running Kingston down in promos using his tribulations. Their blood feud spills over into Week 2 of Fyter Fest on Dynamite in what is being billed as a “Barbed Wire Everywhere Death Match.” Getting a fin up on Shark Week, the Jericho Appreciation Society will also be suspended above the ring in a shark cage. We caught up with Kingston for a candid chat ahead of the big fight.
How do you feel about your match with Chris Jericho having a little Shark Week theme attached to it?
Eddie Kingston: I don’t give a f–k about Shark Week. I just wanted to fight Jericho, and whatever the company needs to do to have — what is that word? — synergy, I’m all for it. I don’t care if it’s a shark cage or a dog cage. I just want to fight Jericho and throw him through barbed wire.
When you think of “Barbed Wire Everywhere Death Match,” what comes to mind for you?
A spiderweb barbed wire bed. I would like to wrap up the barbed wire around the ring ropes. If I had my way, there would be more weapons for me to hurt Chris with. Let’s put barbed wire on the ring bell. Let’s put barbed wire on the microphone. Let’s put barbed wire on a baseball bat. Whatever I can hit him with would be great.
Is there such a thing as too many gimmick matches?
My thing is I don’t call them gimmick matches. I just call them fights. This is a fight, and I like fights. I don’t care if there is a whole show of quote “gimmick matches.” As long as the people are into it, and they have a reason for it and legit beef, let’s do it. Don’t just throw people into these matches.
How has it been working with Chris the last few months?
People think I’m working with Chris. I don’t like him, really. I’m here to do my job. We’re here to do business, but I’m going to get in some shots he ain’t going to like because I really don’t like the guy. I think he is a carny lowlife. Everything I do is as real as possible. For some reason, Tony Khan, the match-maker, puts me in the ring with people I don’t like, but it’s part of the deal.
Another part of the deal is social media, and you’ve felt the brunt of body shaming. How do you process it?
Twitter is not real. It’s an app, so I don’t care what they do or say. That helps me because I got to care about myself. I have to try to get better every day. I’m not in competition with anybody but myself. I’ve been competing with Eddie of yesterday because I have to be better than him. That’s what I tell people. Sometimes I tell the boys and girls this: Don’t be a mark for yourself and for Twitter. People can tell when things are fake and done just to get a reaction. Be yourself, be real, be honest. And if you can’t, then get out of the business.
You’ve been so open about your mental health struggles and battling your demons. How does it feel to see others inspired by your story?
I do read their responses. I may not respond, but I do read them. I just don’t know what to say. I’m humbled and thankful and happy I inspire people. But every day is a struggle for me. I’m never going to be cured. I still keep going forward, and if I inspire one person, that’s great. At one point, I got overloaded with messages and broke down crying because I can’t believe this many people are going through this. If I can inspire one person to make it through a day, awesome.
Is there anything you do to decompress?
Being with my beautiful lady. I chill out and watch wrestling and work out.
I know you’re not big on social media. But I have to bring up the big campaign there was for you to be the voice of Bender for the return of Futurama. I feel like you could do well in that realm.
I don’t think about acting. I don’t think about voice acting. I don’t think about anything until I’m done in the ring. All I focus on is fighting in that ring. When my career is said and done in the ring, then I’m thinking about other jobs. I wouldn’t be a good actor anyway because I don’t remember lines. It’s like when people try to get me to say things in promos. It’s not a promo; it’s my therapy session. Let me talk.
Are there any TV shows you watch these days?
I caught back up on Westworld. Being on the road though, you just want to be left alone and not watch anything at home. I am into Marvel. I watch all the Disney+ shows. I’m really into The Boys. Invincible is another good one. I usually like old TV shows too, like All In the Family. I like How I Met Your Mother. One of my all-time favorites is New Girl. I’m a comedian. I like to laugh once in a while.
Do you think New Girl ended on the right note with Jess and Nick?
Oh definitely! I loved it with Winston doing the prank.
It’s nice when a show has good closure.
I was into Game of Thrones to the point where I was reading the books, and I don’t like reading. It ended so badly that I couldn’t go back and binge-watch it. I’m also looking forward to some of the DC shows coming to HBO Max. I’m a big comic book guy. I’m an undercover nerd. There is a picture at my mother’s house of me hanging out with a cigarette in my mouth, a bandana like Tupac while reading a Punisher comic. That’s me in a nutshell.
It has been incredible to watch your journey where you really made the most of what could have easily been a one-off. Looking at today, about two years later, it seems you’ve evolved into a locker room leader.
No! I don’t want to be a locker room leader. I just want to do my job. That’s what I love about our locker room is we have more people in the locker room who just want to do their job and do it correctly. You’ll always have locker room drama, but it’s usually stomped out because the locker room is filled with pros. We have enough pros where everything is set straight. I’m not a locker room leader. I’m just the loudest one. I’m not a leader. I just got a big mouth. So if I have a problem with someone or something, everyone hears it.
How would you compare the atmosphere of the roster today?
It’s getting bigger. Competition has stepped up. Either you force the hand or get left behind. That’s any business or sport or any entertainment. If you don’t step your game up and someone new comes along, you’re going to fall back. Then it’s nobody’s fault but your own.
How do you reflect on your 20 years in the business?
A lot of self-inflicted wounds. I was my own worst enemy. I realize it now.
Do you find it was going through those dark times that gave you that appreciation for what you have now?
Without a doubt. I would not change one thing. I don’t look back. I look back on my deathbed. You’re only as good as your last match. I was taught that very early on.
AEW Dynamite, Wednesdays, 8/7c, TBS
AEW Rampage, Fridays, 10/9c, TNT