Eddie Kingston and Jon Moxley come from an environment and an industry that tells men to bury their feelings. But as societal norms slowly shift, so to are those expectations on "tough" guys.
All Elite Wrestling president Tony Khan announced on Nov. 2 that Moxley would be taking a hiatus from the company and checking into an alcohol treatment program. Kingston, who detailed his own substance and mental-health issues in a candid piece for Players' Tribune, spoke with CBS Sports about the industry-wide support for Moxley.
"It was great. I was going to rally with him anyway. I guess you could say I'm an old-school street guy," Kingston said. "My thing was, 'I don't care if anyone else understands. I get it. Your wife gets it, I get it. That's all that matters.' It does feel nice that everybody else got it. My girlfriend said this to me the other day. She's the smart one. Toxic masculinity. I never heard of that before. She seems to think that's dying because we're actually celebrating men like Moxley who can accept their flaws but also work on them.
"Back in the day, we used to accept the flaws and move on and not work on them. Now that we accept who we are, we work on them. She says I do the same thing. I don't know what that means. I still like watching football and eating steak and having a beer here or there."
Mental-health issues do not discriminate; however, and Kingston stressed the importance of mental-health struggles being normalized because being a "tough guy" does not prevent someone from needing help.
"I usually like to tell people that we create our own normal. If you sit there and say what you're going through is not normal, that's bulls---," he said. "What you're going through is what you're going through. That's your normal. We make our own. This whole, 'Don't talk about things. I gotta be manly.' I think I'm pretty manly, but I talk about what I go through because I'm trying to see tomorrow. I'm trying to make my mother proud. I'm trying to make my girl proud. I'm trying to make Tony Khan proud. I'm trying to make my boy Monkey [AEW wrestler Ortiz] proud. Homicide. There are so many people that I'm trying to make proud that I have to move on.
"The best way to move on is to talk about what's going on. And to make my own normal because no one is going through what I'm going through. I'm the one going through it so it's my normal. Not that I'm broken, I'm just going to move on from it and move forward because that's all I can do is move forward. Do I feel a little bit of pressure since that Players' Tribune? Yeah, but I also kind of like it too because, look, I can move on, I can do it. I'm not the most mentally put-together person but I'm moving forward, I'm trying. So why can't anybody else?"
Check out the full interview with Eddie Kingston below.
Kingston, 39, has quite the support system back home. It was his mother who suggested he would be happier accepting AEW's contract offer as opposed to signing with WWE. It was his brother who motivated Kingston to step off the ledge of retirement shortly before his national breakthrough.
"My mom and dad are just happy that I'm doing something that's not illegal. My brother is just happy I found something that I'm passionate about," Kingston said. "I didn't see the future. They did. They saw a future for me in anything I wanted to do. But because of my low self-esteem and how I beat myself down mentally in the past -- which I still kind of do, I'm working on that, but all that stuff -- they're just happy to see me doing something that's positive. So of course they're going to back me up on that, no matter what."
Kingston is reaping the rewards he long labored for. He's had major featured matches against many of AEW's top stars since turning a one-night deal to face Cody Rhodes in July 2020 into a full-time contract. After well-received matches against men like Moxley, CM Punk and Bryan Danielson, Kingston has become one of the focal points of the company.
"New milestones, of course," Kingston said of what comes next. "[The goal] to be the top guy in AEW. I reached one goal. I made it to AEW, contracted, make it a living. My nephew can show people on the TNT app, there's a plug, or on the AEW YouTube there's another plug, he gets to show off that his uncle is a wrestler. I reached one goal. The next goal is to be the top guy. To be the champion. To be the guy on the posters. The guy that is AEW. That's what Kenny [Omega] was. That's what Mox was. That was [Chris] Jericho was. And that's what 'Hangman' [Adam Page] is now. That's always the goal."