All Elite Wrestling’s approach to mental health is being highlighted by a major news outlet this morning.
In a new piece from “ABC News”, top AEW stars like the World Heavyweight Champion ‘Hangman’ Page and ‘The Icon’ Sting touched on expectations fans have for pro wrestlers to be “macho” as they power through personal issues. Page labeling himself as ‘The Anxious Millenial Cowboy’ was one of his first attempts to shift that perspective and show that everyone struggles at times.
“Those kinds of emotions are often the least explored and I think people were ready to see that,” Page said. “Many are unable to take into account the cultural shift that’s happened in relation to our attitudes toward even acknowledging our mental health, much less the idea that a character can go through those things without being seen as ‘weak’.”
Sting echoed that sentiment in his own way while also reflecting on his long history with the world of pro wrestling. Someone that has performed in WCW, WWE, TNA/Impact, and now, AEW, has seen his fair share of mental struggles. In an effort to silence his own, Sting admits that he would shapeshift according to what his peers around him were like.
“I was a chameleon. And I’m just going to be Steve,” he said. “That’s what I’m going to be. And so, yeah, I paint my face and I’m a character, and I’m staying and I entertain. But the real man, Steve Borden, behind the mask, is very transparent. Not afraid to talk about the real stuff, not afraid to listen, either.”
Tony Khan is proud that AEW is taking progressive steps in introducing these types of storylines into the professional wrestling space.
“… We really do care about the people here,” Khan told ABC News. “We try to show it and make the locker rooms here places where people aren’t going to dread coming in, and quite the opposite, where hopefully they look forward to seeing the other people that, you know, you get in the ring and fight.”
“Our perspective is that if we want to get the best out of people, we gotta treat them like human beings. Every single human being has mental health that needs to be taken care of,” Megha Parekh, the Chief Legal Counselor at AEW adds.
One AEW star that has been candid about his mental health struggles since first signing with the company is Eddie Kingston. Despite championship gold alluding Kingston in his AEW career so far, the brawling star is highly favored among fans in AEW. But even he has moments of weakness, so instead of coping with them through toxic means, Kingston hopes to find healthier ways of coping.
“We’ve lost enough people that, you know, I mean, in our personal lives, you know, away from wrestling, and a lot of us have lost people in wrestling we knew. And it’s because no one talks,” Kingston stated.
“And everybody has this stigma that they had to be tough and rough. And, you know what I mean; I can’t let nobody see my weakness. So I can’t then talk to people, you know, so you hold everything in. Then you find different ways of coping. For me, it was drinking a lot. Yeah, I mean, and I know, whatever it was, it was pills and everything like that.”
AEW “Dynamite” airs every Wednesday at 8 p.m. EST, with “Rampage” airing each Friday at 10 p.m. EST.
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