Meet Darian Bengston: Up & coming pro wrestler looking to bring art into the ring

Darian Bengston and I first met at Missouri State University.

He lived with one of my best friends and was heavily involved in the theater program at MSU.

Now, he’s wrestling on the independent stage and performing in matches on AEW Dark. He’s currently living in Atlanta, Georgia and training at the Nightmare Factory.

First, he was studying abroad in England. He made some connections and pursued his education for Classical Acting at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

“While I was there, KofiMania was a thing. I found that inspiring and I felt in a way that I kind of became jaded to theater,” Bengston said. “A woman that was working on a show of mine was like ‘hey if you wanna get away from acting for awhile, I do lights and sound for a wrestling show in town.'”

Then the rest is history.

“That was for the London School of Lucha Libre. I told my acting agents about it,” Bengston said.

His acting agents also represent AEW’s Anthony Ogogo. Bengston and Ogogo became friends and that’s where his journey continued.

“When the Pandemic hit, I had to come back to America. He had to come to America to fulfill his contract,” Bengston said. “We ended up becoming roommates and starting this wrestling journey together.”

Darian and I spoke about his time in pro wrestling and how he’s bringing originality into the squared circle. A lot of times you hear about people who get into pro wrestling then get into acting. It was the opposite for Darian.

“I’ve come to really love and value wrestling as an art form, I think it’s really underrated. Getting my degree in Classical Acting, which was largely focused on Shakespeare. I’ve come to see wrestling is very similar in structure to the way modern theater was,” Bengston said. “There was a belief in Shakespeare that through crowd interaction, you could really help these characters on their way. It’s the same in wrestling. You feed off the energy of the crowd to make or break the situation that’s happening in the ring.”

“People are always talking about who’s going to be the next mainstream star in wrestling. How are we gonna get another Rock? Another John Cena? And we do things like bring in Brock Lesnars and Ronda Rouseys. Bringing people from the sports world to legitimize wrestling as a sport. Anthony Ogogo, my roommate, was an Olympic boxer. What I want to do is legitimize wrestling as an art form. Even though we do have John Cenas and Rocks, they’re not winning an Oscar or an Emmy anytime soon,” Bengston said.

Darian said this could be largely due to wrestling being stigmatized.

“Me coming from the arts, coming from a Classical Acting School, you’re not going to be able to tell me I’m not an artist. You’re not going to be able to tell me I’m not actor,” Bengston said.

Bengston said he is a mix between a high-flyer and technician. He said the training at the London School of Lucha Libre helped influence his move set today.

“That school is a hybrid of British technical style and Lucha Libre aerial offense,” Bengston said. “I’ve been able to take the Lucha and British style and mash it up with the style that comes from Nightmare Factory. Which is very much like the exciting, American style.”

Bengston faced off against Ricky Starks on March 15th in AEW Dark. Now he’s looking for his next chance.

“I just need the right set of eyes to see I have something special,” Bengston said. “My in-ring gear is very different to what other people wear. My style is very different.”

Bengston and Sheehan had many mutual friends in college at Missouri State University. Bengston roomed with one of Sheehan’s best friends, Zack Russell, when Matt and Zack first met.

“The good ole’ Normal House, Missouri State legend. That house was very fond of wrestling. Chance Nichols, an MSU alum, and Caleb Doyle were both very into wrestling,” Bengston said. “They got my eyes back on the product and back into it. Kurt, who is the head of the acting department at MSU, had a big emphasis on stage combat and the importance of certification. When I traveled to England, I got certified in combat.”

Bengston said physical combat helps add another dimension of storytelling to the product.

“Missouri State, alone in giving me my artistic foundation, also got me inspired to think about how we can use those different, unconventional types of storytelling to reach somebody,” Bengston said.

Darian said AEW is attracting a lot of new fans because it’s taking public opinion that’s been gathered over the last few years and is implementing it into their product.

“It’s capitalized on its own sense of history, and is opening new windows for new stars,” he said. “I do think they’re willing to take more risks. With that comes innovation, and with that comes new fans.”

Bengston also said he loves how AEW showcases international talent.

“I love getting to see Japanese wrestlers get their shine,” Bengston said. “I think the fact you have Pentagon and Rey Fenix there, all these different styles from all over the world, is what makes this art form beautiful. Taking things from all different cultures and combine one story. I think that’s beautiful and is one story that is a message that isn’t looked at that closely, because it’s wrestling.”

You can see Bengston and Sheehan’s full interview on YouTube here.


Published by mattsheehanofficial

Matt Sheehan is a journalist based in Illinois. He grew up in St. Louis and went to college at Missouri State University. He's the host of On the Record, and secures exclusive interviews with celebrities for his TV morning show.

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