Aleister Black has been open about discussing his childhood experiences growing up in a religious cult and how they have shaped his characters, past and present. On a recent episode of Chasing Glory with Lilian Garcia, Black discussed the differences between his current character and his previous persona as Tommy End. He said he views Aleister Black as an evolution of Tommy End.
"There is a considerable amount of content to what made Tommy End, Tommy End and what makes Aleister Black, Aleister Black. There is a lot of similarities," he said. "Sometimes it feels like Tommy End shed his skin and became Aleister Black. I truly feel like in WWE Tommy End could become Aleister Black. I needed that transition."
Black said he has always blurred the lines between good and bad. He always wanted to differ himself from conventional thinking, so when he began his career he needed a lot of time to figure out his character. Playing a strict babyface never worked for him because it wasn't true to who he was as a person. When he figured out how to combine good and bad into one character, that's when he started to find success in the business.
"When I started out in wrestling, you have to start somewhere and you either start being the good guy or the bad guy. There is several cliches that follow that. It's like; you come out to the people and you wave your hands and you make a strong fist and say something like, 'Let's get this guy!' You are automatically seen as the good guy because that is the energy that you resonate with the audience. On the flip side, as you come out and you look a certain way and see your appearance and people automatically assume you are the bad guy," Black said. "We can all do that to an extent, but I think in seven years I didn't resonate with the crowd, it didn't click and I kept thinking, yeah, because it's not authentic, it's not who you are. You are not the yay or the boo guy. That is not who you are; you come from a different background. You come from this tiny speck called Amsterdam where there isn't a lot of wrestling at all and I was a big fan of hardcore music coming up, and the hardcore scene like rock metal, especially the hardcore scene is very much positive and is very much like, okay, just because we don't look like you doesn't mean we can't be successful. It's what resonated with me because I never felt like them.
"I never felt like the nine to five mentality is for me," he continued. "I never felt like some of those roles are just not what make me, me. Like, the idea that I had to spend the rest of my life behind a desk and not be able to express myself the way I wanted to express myself. To me, that is torture. I mean if people out there that do love that then more love to them, but it just wasn't for me. So, at the hardcore scene you can express yourself and you can be you and there is a message, and it's positivity and it's one for all, all for one."
As Tommy End, Black presented himself as an anti-hero and fans became more drawn to him. He continued to amplify that persona and Tommy End grew to become a cult leader of sorts. Those experiences helped him evolve and shape himself into his current character.
"Throughout life I have developed a natural cynicism about myself and why I kind of look at everything with a magnifying glass. If you allow yourself to second guess certain things and look at things from a distance you don't immediately run into something blindfolded. There is a lot of layers to what made Tommy End. I put a lot of that stuff where you are everybody's kid, and you are not listening to regular stuff. You weren't doing regular things so why are you trying to be a regular person, even if something is so strange and so dynamic like professional wrestling. Basically, I created this character that is anti-hero, which is why I called myself 'The Anti-Hero' Tommy End, and from the moment I did that, that was it. I had something. People started to recognize it a little more because at the time there was something," he said. "Professional wrestling in Europe is more of a sub-culture. It is not as popular as it is here in the United States. The people that were drawn to it were also people that were into sub-culture, hardcore sub-culture. It is basically an alternative scene that is sub-culture. That crowd immediately was like, that is our guy. So, it didn't matter if I was a bad guy or a good guy, they got it, so because people got it I started to make a name for myself. I started to get noticed by promoters. We went from Germany to United Kingdom, to Italy, France, the ball just started rolling. I went to Japan, went to North America a couple of times, it just started to get bigger and bigger all because I made that change, and down the line I made another change because I always had a fascination with the occults and what made the dynamics behind that. So, because of that I started to implement a little bit more darkness into the character and it became a little bit more 'cult-leader type' and it started to resonate with people more and people started to say, oh my God, this is what I need to be, so everything I had done as Tommy End was setting myself up for Aleister Black."
Black was also asked about how he came up with his name. He said he and Triple H brainstormed together to come up with his character when he joined NXT.
"It was a corroboration between myself and Triple H. We started shooting names back and forth," he said. "He saw what I was trying to do so he started to shoot me names and I said, like, or I don't hate that but can we put it this way and we ended up coming up with Aleister Black and he said that was it."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Chasing Glory with Lilian Garcia with an h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: Chasing Glory with Lilian Garcia
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.