AEW's Malakai Black Explains the Symbolism Behind His Black Eye and Haunting Entrance

When Tom Budgen was first released from the WWE back in June he began to explain the symbolism he had layered into his wrestling persona, Aleister Black. The same day he debuted in AEW, Black uploaded a short film to debut his new persona, Malakai Black, while explaining that his five years in the WWE were merely an illusion brought on by the demonic Moloch, tricking Black into believing he was "the devil with memory loss." In a new interview with ComicBook, Black explained the significance behind three aspects of his new persona — his increasingly deteriorating black eye, the antlered skull he wears to the ring and the haunting song "Ogentroost" by Amenra he uses as an entrance theme. 

Black began with his eye — "A lot of people started really digging through my old stuff and really found a bunch of really cool creative things. They haven't completely discovered everything that I've did already with Malakai or am doing as Malakai. But, one of the things that I can tell you is that when I released 'The Devil Made Me Do It' little movie, video trailer, teaser, whatever you want to call it. There's a funny thing where a lot of people thought that it was a dig towards my former employer, but it was actually not at all. It was a creative way for me to ease out of Aleister and move into a different realm. The idea behind it is that this greater entity known as Moloch or Malakai in this case, this messenger, orchestrated this whole idea that Tom was in a, what's the best word to describe this, had this episode that lasted almost five years wherein he believed that he was Aleister and that he believed that he was a fallen angel with memory loss or Lucifer or Satan, however you want to call it.

"He had this episode, this manic episode, where actually it was Malakai who orchestrated all of this and through the injury in his eye was able to kind of like fracture apart in being able to manifest himself through the eye," he continued. "That's also why this thing on my face keeps growing and growing because he becomes stronger and stronger, and it reacts to certain events and certain happenings. So in a way, it's a continuation, but at the same time, there's a layer above the layers. I've said this and I've referenced this many, many times for me, wrestling is a lot more than just us versus them or you versus me. It's a creative outlet for me. Some like it, some don't. I don't care. It's about what I want to do and clearly what I do works. A lot of people are intrigued by it. Sure, people are not going to be intrigued by it. That's fine. It's a part of like this, I dove into a sea of what can I do with this? I'm still swimming down to whatever I can find, like the bottom of things. I keep discovering new things and keep discovering new layers and ideas that I find interesting that I feel that I can stick on to this character and create this character. It becomes its own universe in a way. It's just a very creative outlet."

(Photo: AEW)

He then moved on to his entrance. Regarding his mask, Black explained, "I wanted to tie something in that was a little closer to me as a Dutch person. I think a lot of people don't even realize that, as well as I speak English, I wasn't born in this country. This isn't my original tongue. I had to learn this language. The mask is based on Cernunnos who was a lower Celtic god. That was, sorry, he was a Celtic God, that was worshiped in the lower Celts and also in Britain..."

"He sits cross-legged, which I thought was very interesting," he added. "He was worshiped in the Netherlands before the Netherlands was even dubbed the Netherlands. There were all these ties to like Europe and Celtics and Celtic tribes and tribalism and stuff that, in a sense, ties into my ancestry, in a sense. Because obviously, I'm referencing stuff that is two, three-thousand years old, but still spawned and originated in a country that I'm from. I wanted to tie it into something that was if this was my Picasso basically. If this was the grand thing that I wanted to paint, I wanted it to have roots of from where I came from."

Finally, he discussed his choice of entrance music. He thought picking a Dutch band (they're from Belgium) was a perfect choice, and the song's title even links back to his eye. 

"Ogentroost is a herb that you rub on an eye when it's irritated. So, it kind of ties into that stuff (his eye) too. I just heard the song because they just came out with their new album. I just listened to the song and I knew the guys. I was just like, I'm good friends with people. I'm good friends with Relapse Records. I was just like, 'Man, this is a shot in the dark because these guys are creative geniuses.' This whole Church of Ra that they have is like a collective of multiple bands," Black said. "They have their own bible, they have their own book, they have their own imagery," That speaks to me too, because I have the exact same thing. There's so much lore around this band. There's so much lore with these guys and they're such creative people."

Black said he wouldn't use the song unless everyone in the band on board, which they were. He also hopes to support them once international travel is back to normal and the band can tour the United States.

"That was the one thing that once they do start traveling, I want to be there for them," he said. "They helped me with this character because without this song, without this entrance, what I do wouldn't have been as successful, wouldn't have made as much of an impact as it did."

AEW Dynamite airs on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. ET on TNT. AEW Rampage airs on Friday nights at 10 p.m. ET on TNT.