At only 16, Nick Wayne is the youngest person to ever sign with AEW.
As the son of Pacific Northwest legend Buddy Wayne, he was introduced to the world of wrestling very early on in life. As a child, he would watch his father train other wrestlers at his academy three times a week and when he wasn't there, he would be watching pro wrestling on television.
"How could you not fall in love with it?," he said.
I sat down to chat with Wayne during AEW Double or Nothing weekend in Las Vegas at Blue Wire Studios at the Wynn Las Vegas. He talked to me about numerous topics including his start in wrestling, his experience in the locker room, signing with AEW, and so much more.
Training At Nine Years Old
Wayne had his first match when he was 12, but he began his training at the age of nine at the Academy.
"Once I was about eight years old when the trainings would be over, I would get in the ring by myself and do what they did. I would see what they would do, I would see what they would learn and I would get in by myself and I would do it. I started training for real with the students when I was nine years old."
The biggest challenge he faced at that age was learning to take bumps in the wrestling ring.
"When I was 9, I was probably a hundred pounds so when I would take the bumps, the ring would have no give. It was like I was taking a bump on the concrete."
Wayne recounts being 12 and wrestling three shows a day part of a three-day festival in Abbotsford, Canada: a total of nine matches in his first weekend wrestling.
"It was a very last second thing. I wore volleyball knee pads, white kick pads and Nike spandex."
"I think he'd be proud of me following in his footsteps and his style of wrestling."
Wayne explained that his father taught him everything he knows about pro wrestling and that he grew up watching a lot of AAA Lucha Libre and CMLL.
"I think he would be. I wanna say he'd be proud of me. When he was wrestling during his time in the 80s, the 90s and early 2000s, he was the one that was doing things that people weren't willing to do. He would do the more high risk stuff, but he was always the one that did the high risk stuff, that had the boundaries, and broke them. So I think if he saw me wrestle, he'd be proud because I follow in his footsteps, I like to do the high risk stuff as well. I think he'd be proud of me following in his footsteps and his style of wrestling."
Being in high school and wrestling
Wayne may already have a contract with a major group in pro wrestling, but he is still only in high school with one more year to go. Given that it's not everyday you find professional wrestlers in high school like Wayne, I asked him about what his peers think of his outside work.
"Ever since the kids knew that I was a wrestler since 5th and 6th grade, it's been judgmental since day one honestly. They all look at it as fake and choreographed. It's not real to them. They think everything is fake and like a show. But, really, I come to school and I am limping and stuff, and they're all like 'You're just acting.'"
Wayne goes on to explain that he tells his classmates he doesn't want to limp for fun, also adding, "It's been a lot of judging, a lot of bullying, I guess, but I don't really let it get to my head because I love wrestling so much. I love traveling on these weekends, meeting new people, being with my people. This is kinda my happy place. I like to use their hate toward me as motivation to get better. One day, these people that hated on me will be fans one day."
Wayne says he has invited friends to go to the show and once they go, they are "mind blown."
Wayne's favorite part of school is lunch. He also says he loves to write and would like to write a book someday about his career.
Being Taken Off The Wrld on GCW
GCW held their biggest show ever -- The Wrld on GCW -- in January from the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York. Wayne was supposed to take part in the show in a scramble match. However, just days before the show, he was pulled due to his age.
"I was so bummed because a few days before that, I got my whole new set of gear for the show. I got my new entrance jacket for the show. I had all these crazy ideas I wanted to do. I was gonna go balls to the wall for the show. Hearing that honestly broke my heart because it would have been the biggest show I'd ever done."
Wayne still got to attend, but just not perform. In order to make it up to him, Joey Janela allowed Wayne the opportunity to pick his opponent for a later date. Wayne picked Will Ospreay who he sees as an "idol." He will get his shot at Ospreay at GCW's June 19th debut in Providence, Rhode Island. It will also be GCW's New England debut.
Signing with AEW
Earlier this year, following his match with Christopher Daniels at DEFY Wrestling, he was surprised by Darby Allin who presented him with an AEW contract. He signed at only 16, making him the youngest person to ever sign with AEW. Wayne has said he will start when he turns 18.
"From now until I am 18 years old, it's kinda like a learning experience, I'll go to the show and learn TV wrestling, learn how AEW does things, meet the agents, learn the production, so that by the time I turn 18, we'll be ready to rock 'n' roll."
He's looking forward to working with agent Jerry Lynn and wants to work against Bryan Danielson and Kenny Omega.
When I asked him his thoughts on the current AEW product, he said they are "pushing the limits, pushing the boundaries." He also added that be believes "the matches they put on in a weekly basis are just incredible."