words by Patrick Strait – photo by John Oakes
There are a lot of people who have punchable faces in this world, but none more punchable than Darin Corbin.
As F1RST Wrestling’s resident super villain, Corbin is regularly showered with boos, taunts and chants whenever he steps foot in the ring. But on rare occasion, he’s been known to catch a fist to the mouth too.
Last summer, Corbin was wrestling against WWE Hall of Famer Scott Steiner during a F1RST Wrestling show at the Temple of Aaron Synagogue in St. Paul. As usual, Corbin had worked the crowd into an angry mob. So, when Steiner brought him outside the ring, held his arms and told a fan to hit him, he should have known what was coming.
“I think Steiner meant for him to hit me in the chest,” Corbin laughs. “He had my arms pinned behind my back so I couldn’t protect myself, and next thing I know I get popped in the face.”
Just another day in the life of the ‘Loudmouth Mercenary.’
This month, Corbin will be angering crowds at breweries, Open Streets and First Avenue with a trio of F1RST Wrestling shows.
While ticking off wrestling fans might seem like it comes easy to Corbin, the reality is that it’s taken him 18 years to truly find his (extremely irritating) voice.
“I always wanted to be like, the evil politician-style bad guy,” Corbin explains. “Like yes, he’s a jerk, but he says a lot of the right things. That’s what I always pictured. But when you’re new and just trying to figure yourself out, you can’t quite get there yet.”
Instead, Corbin spent his early career as part of a white-meat babyface tag team (wrestler-speak for squeaky clean good guys) alongside fellow Minnesota standout, Ryan Cruz. Together, they were the North Star Express. A team that was tailor-made to be the heroes fans would embrace with open arms. Unfortunately, not everything went to plan.
“We started getting booed just for existing,” Corbin says. “There was a match at Wrestlepalooza [F1RST Wrestling’s marquee event] where we won, and people were throwing beer cans in the ring at us. And while that was happening, deep down I’m just thinking, ‘Let me be the asshole I know I can be.’”
When the organization’s top bad guy, Ariya Daivari, was signed by the WWE in 2016, Corbin saw his chance to become the new lighting rod for fan outrage.
“Everyone comes to F1RST Wrestling and has a good time,” he says. “The role that I’ve moved into is being the fun police.”
Whether it’s bloody brawls with stars like Effy and Arik Cannon, or LOL-worthy spectacles with Super Thunder Frog, you can always count on Corbin to give you his best (or worst, as it may be).
“I was told early on that you can’t always assume people know who you are,” Corbin explains. “Every time you go through the curtain, you have to assume it’s a new group of people who are seeing you for the first time. I love the challenge of being able to… I was going to say win people over, but I guess it’s the challenge of making them angry.”
While each show might be a chance for a new group of fans to meet Corbin for the first time, he says that after nearly two decades inside the ring, he knows exactly who he is.
“I know what I do works,” he says. “But I also can’t wait to find more reasons to tick people off.”
IF YOU GO:
F1RST Wrestling: St. Paul Slammer
Saturday, June 4
Clutch Brewing Co., St. Paul
3 PM, $15 (kids 12 and under free)
Click here for tickets
F1RST Wrestling: Open Streets Slam
Sunday, June 5
12–4 PM, FREE!
F1RST Wrestling: Wrestlepalooza – Pride Pre-Party
Sunday, June 19
7 PM, $30-40
Click here for tickets