Guest: Darren Young
Date: April 26, 2017
Recap by: Christopher Gaspare
Top Newsworthy Items
-Young says C.M. Punk, Big Show, Randy Orton, and Mark Henry were all particularly supportive of him coming out.
-Young revealed for the first time that his mother is gay.
-Young is creating a YouTube channel to “motivate” and let people know who he is.
-Young had the idea to bring in Bob Backlund as his life coach and was inspired by Cus D’Amato.
00:00: Show introduction and staff introductions
05:11: The crew discusses the weekly news and the time Rick Steiner shot X-Pac with a blank from a .357
20:09: Sponsor Ad
20:43: Darren Young talks breaking into the business
29:14: Young talks coming out and the support he received
35:30: Young talks Mark Henry and Henry’s reaction to Young’s coming out
42:28: Young talks his time in the indies
46:27: Young talks growing up gay, his parents, and dating before and after coming out
56:30: Young talks creating a YouTube channel, his projects, and his current injury
1:02:43: Young talks Bob Backlund, the Prime Time Players, Abraham Washington, and the locker room
1:14:28: Young talks free time and having kids
1:27:21: Sponsor Ads
1:27:39: Show End
Show introduction and staff introductions
X-Pac welcomed everyone to the show and introduces his co-hosts Mark, Jimbo, and TK Trinidad. He expressed his condolences to the Bischoff family and also Aron Stevens who lost their dogs this past week.
The crew discuss the weekly news and the time Rick Steiner shot X-Pac with a blank from a .357
The news discussed this week included Ric Flair’s fiancée, Wendy, getting into a car accident, but she is okay. Next, they talked about Scott Steiner returning to Impact, and he’ll be in a tag team match at Slammiversary. X-Pac then told a story about Rick Steiner shooting him with a blank bullet from a .357 back in the ‘90s at the Cobb County Civic Center in Georgia. Steiner did it because he thought “it would be funny,” and the locker room all laughed. X-Pac thinks it was funny in hindsight. The crew also discussed Ken Anderson coming into ROH and Jack Swagger wrestling with House of Hardcore in Australia during their June tour. Finally, they discussed the announcement of Vince McMahon’s biopic, Pandemonium. They discuss some possibilities for casting. Jimbo wondered if the movie will cover incidents such as the steroid trial. X-Pac responded, “Of course they’ll that story. He beat the government. How many people have ever done that even?”
Darren Young talks breaking into the business
Darren grew up in a supportive household, and his parents, especially his mother, were even supportive of him when he went into wrestling. He grew up in New Jersey, and in the northeast, the independent scene was “off the hook.” He loved wrestling and was a big fan of X-Pac, Shawn Michaels, and Kurt Angle, and he studied their timing and pacing. He was trained by Kenny Knight who ran the IWF wrestling school where Knight taught him professionalism and “to look the part.” He paid $1,000 dollars for a paid tryout in Tampa for FCW, and he was accepted. Young said wrestlers’ “screws gotta be loose” to get beat up the way they do, but he loves the business, especially because he can give back to the community and influence young kids and talent.
Young talks coming out and the support he received
Young “always knew” he was gay and simply “suppressed his feelings” for thirty years. In terms of his suffering, he said, “Think about the worst moment [you’ve had] and times it by ten.” The decision to come out to TMZ was not predetermined, but spur-of-the-moment. Afterwards, he went back to the hotel and was nervous to the point of vomiting. He called two friends, and one of them advised him to contact WWE and let them know. The next day, he had his first speaking appearance for the “Be A Star” anti-bullying campaign but couldn’t leave the hotel room due to “fear of the unknown.” He called Stephanie McMahon, and she told him everything would be okay. Now, he’s glad to be a role model and in the position to help others living in the same situation he was.
Young says none of his co-workers knew of his orientation. He has had some run-ins with co-workers after coming out. He said, “I can tell when someone is not taken too kindly by me,” but his philosophy is if the person doesn’t know him personally, then he doesn’t take it personally. “My sexual orientation shouldn’t have to bother anybody…I come to work, I do my job.” He did have a number of supportive co-workers though, namely C.M. Punk, Randy Orton, Big Show, and Mark Henry. He told a story about how, right after his coming out, he was sitting in catering and Punk had just finished a match. Punk approached him from behind and said, “Stand up and give me a hug.” Punk said he was proud of Young and to let him know if he had any problems with any of the boys in the locker room.
Young talks Mark Henry and Henry’s reaction to Young’s coming out
Young told a specific story about Mark Henry, and he felt comfortable telling it because Henry is going to include the story in a book he is writing. When Young started with the company, he had his hair spiked. Henry asked him, “Why you got your hair spiked like that…you know it makes you look gay.” Young told him he was just “trying to be different.” After he came out, Henry called him in the hotel and told him to come down to the green room. When he arrived, Henry gave him a big hug and asked, “Why didn’t you tell me?” Young also discussed driving around Henry and the Great Khali, who apparently never paid any tabs for food.
Young talks his time in the indies
Young was asked about his first match ever. He said it would have been sometime in 2002 with his trainer or one of the top students in the company. He focused on character and basics then; he was never “a high spot guy.” He tried to work for Chaotic Wrestling in Boston as much as possible, even for free, because they had a connection to WWE, so he would see and wrestle Kofi Kingston often. Kofi still makes fun of him for the way Young used to cut promos back because he used a deep, masculine, loud voice. He said he did this because he was a “Shane Douglas mark” and because he wanted to be seen as masculine.
Young talks growing up gay, his parents, and dating before and after coming out
X-Pac gets the conversation back to his orientation. For the first time, Darren admits that his mother is gay. His parents have stayed together because they are good friends and for financial reasons. He has known since he was a teenager, and he regrets now that he “looked down upon it” due to fright about his own sexuality and peer pressure. The conversation turns to dating. Young said he dated women until coming out in 2012 and regrets his last relationship with a woman. When he came out to her, she wanted to remain friends, but he was in such a bad place that he didn’t do that and wishes he could apologize. He started dating his boyfriend (“I hate using the word ‘partner’”), Nicky, in 2012 and moved to Miami. They are now separated, and he moved away from Miami because the scene was too “aggressive.” He discussed how he’ll meet women at bars when he’s out with other wrestlers, and they will not believe it when he tells them he is gay. He’s relieved to be out though because he doesn’t have to go to strip clubs anymore with the boys and pretend to like it.
Young talks creating a YouTube channel, his projects, and his current injury
Young is currently recovering from an injury. He dislocated his elbow on one of the LED ring posts back in January. He had Tommy John surgery and should be back around June or July. Meanwhile, he is working with the Trevor Project, which helps gay teens with suicidal thoughts and with coming out. He is always speaking a lot for the “Be A Star” anti-bullying campaign. Finally, he’s currently in Los Angeles to create a YouTube channel to “motivate people to follow dreams” and let people know “who Darren Young is.” He expects WWE to give clearance because it’s “all positive” and benefits him, them, and the world.
Young talks Bob Backlund, the Prime Time Players, Abraham Washington, and the locker room
Young said that he enjoyed working with Abraham Washington, the manager who was fired for making a Kobe Bryant rape joke years ago, but said he “said things he shouldn’t have” even after being warned. He also enjoyed working with Titus although he agreed with X-Pac that he didn’t like WWE putting them in a program against each other. The idea for having Bob Backlund come in as his life coach was his idea, he said. He got the idea from watching how much Mike Tyson would referentially talk about Cus D’Amato. He went to Vince McMahon with the idea, and he “bought into it” and called Backlund himself. Young already knew Backlund because they would do speaking engagements together. He talks to Backlund every other day for precisely thirty minutes at which time Backlund will end the call, telling Young to “ameliorate the day.” He also said that even at age 66, Backlund can “still go” and would love to have short match with him. When he comes back, he would like to be a heel as he’s never gotten to be a heel as a solo wrestler. He said Backlund believing in him makes him believe in himself.
Young talks free time and having kids
Young says his free time is filled with speaking engagements, visiting libraries, helping charities, and going to the beach in Tampa, where he now lives. He would like to have kids, but understands that some ignorant people are against it. He tells the story of a barber he met the other day who said “gay people can’t reproduce and mess up the population.” Young said his uncle, who lives in Hawaii, has two children through a surrogate, and he would like something similar someday. X-Pac reacted to that story by saying he has a “dear friend” who is a wrestling journalist and he’s “one of the best parents I’ve ever known in my entire life.”
X-Pac thanked Darren Young for a great interview, and the crew plugged websites and upcoming shows.
Score and Review (9/10)
This episode is a near must-listen. The weekly news items didn’t have a lot going on again this week, but the story X-Pac told about Rick Steiner shooting him was certainly surprising given the recent discussions around locker room culture. The Darren Young interview was well-handled by X-Pac. Young is clear and earnest throughout, but more importantly, he was extremely open and honest about his orientation, his coming out, and his personal life. It gives a fascinating look at his personal story and how his life changed before and after coming out. The interview started to stray from those topics into wrestling, and X-Pac deserves a lot of credit in this interview for moving the interview back in that direction and get some of the more interesting answers of the whole podcast. The subject matter was handled with a earnestness and casualness that was refreshing.
Chris Gaspare is a teacher from Maryland who has been watching wrestling since 1989 when he saw his first WCW Saturday Night episode and quickly rented as many NWA and WWF VHS tapes he could find in local stores. He also attended Tri-State Wrestling Alliance and early ECW shows in Philadelphia, which really kicked his fandom into high gear. He lapsed in the mid-2000s but returned to the wrestling fold a few years ago.