AEW's Malakai Black Says His Current Character Was What He Pitched in WWE NXT

Malakai Black (fka Aleister Black) made his shocking arrival in AEW last week and firmly established on Wednesday night at AEW Fyter Fest that he'll be working as a heel. The former NXT Champion battered both Arn Anderson and Cody Rhodes with his Black Mass finisher last week, prompting a pull-apart brawl with "The American Nightmare" midway through this week's show. Black revealed during a recent Twitch stream that his current heel persona is what he always wanted to do when he first showed up in NXT, but Triple H envisioned him as a babyface. Black didn't get the chance to go full heel until midway through 2020 during a feud with Kevin Owens, but between a long hiatus and his sudden release fans barely got to see that side of him.

"It's funny. The reason I did this is because this is actually how I wanted the WWE version to be," Black explained (h/t Wrestling Inc.). "When I started, I wanted to come in as a heel and Hunter [Triple H] wanted me face. If anyone has ever seen any work of me on the independents, you would know that the gimmick I was portraying in the WWE was an amplified version of what I did on the indies. That's why they wanted me. But I wanted to be a heel because I was coming off a heel run on the independents. But then Hunter had this idea of making me face, a stoic face character.

"So, I had to switch the character from being this obnoxious, sadistic, possessed by a demon guy, to the same possessed by a demon/devil guy, but then having remorse, and I have to find the middle ground with that. And I had to find the middle ground in that and how would someone who is [like] that [could] find remorse and show remorse by being stoic and having a problem expressing his emotions," he added.

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Do you think Triple H made the right call back in 2016? Or is Black better suited as a hell? Tell us your thoughts down in the comments. AEW will continue its "Welcome Back" Tour with Fyter Fest Night 2 next week in Dallas, featuring:

  • IWGP United States Championship: Jon Moxley vs. Lance Archer (Texas Death Match)
  • AEW Women's World Championship: Dr. Britt Baker vs. Nyla Rose
  • Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Spears (Spears can use a Steel Chair, Jericho can't)
  • Orange Cassidy vs. The Blade