PJ Black, who was recently signed to the roster of Ring of Honor, took the time to speak with Chris Van Vliet about his experience navigating the different contract offers that have come his way lately. One such offer was from Black’s former employer, WWE. Black was recognized as “Justin Gabriel” during his initial stint with WWE, and although he has wrestled under the name “PJ Black” for a longer period of time, the common wrestling fan still acknowledges him as Gabriel.
“Most people know me as Justin Gabriel but I was only Justin Gabriel for six or seven years,” Black said. “I’ve been PJ Black for fifteen years, so, a lot of people don’t really know that. But a lot of people that have been following me since my PJ Black days, since I was sixteen years old, they know. And that’s my goal, too, my goal is to let people know that PJ Black is so much better than Justin Gabriel. Just like the character stuff, like, you’re kinda limited to stuff you can do and say on WWE TV and you get given direction. On the indies, you can just do whatever you want, and I feel like wrestling is an art form. And as an artist, you need to express yourself.”
Black went into detail about a few of the offers that were brought to his attention before he ultimately signed with ROH. One was an offer from WWE, and in it, the company offered Black a run through their NXT developmental territory. Along with a separate competing offer from TNA/Impact Wrestling, Black decided to turn down both contracts because he enjoys the sense of creative freedom that ROH grants him. Black mentioned how there’s also good money and a unique contract situation that helped seal the deal with ROH.
“Right before Ring of Honor, I actually got an offer from NXT. They wanted me to go back there,” Black admitted. “I feel like it was the right thing for me to do [leaving WWE]. I had a lot of growing to do. Although I’ve been in the business for twenty-one years, I still had a lot of growing to do and character development, I feel like. There’s so many talented guys on the indies right now and worldwide. Wrestling’s booming, which is fantastic, and I’m learning every day.
“There was a couple of other offers too, from TNA and stuff, and I chose Ring of Honor because they give me freedom,” Black continued “It’s a great deal financially. It’s only for twelve months, too, which, after that it becomes a thirty day notice deal. I have a feeling it’s going to be like two or three years, but yeah, let’s see what happens.”
Black apparently expressed to WWE that, if he were to return to WWE/NXT TV, it would certainly have to be under the “PJ Black” name. He was even willing to give up the trademarks to “PJ Black” and his nickname, “Darewolf”, if WWE had been his final choice.
“That’s what I told [WWE/NXT], too, I was like, I’ll consider this but I want to be PJ Black,” Black explained. “That was one of the first things that I mentioned to Vince [McMahon]…They don’t want people to use their real names because of trademarks and stuff like that, but I trademarked ‘Darewolf’, so I own that. And I’ve owned PJ Black since I was fifteen years old, so, I would give it to [WWE]. I don’t even care, like, making royalties or anything like that, because that’s me, that’s just who I’ve been my whole life.”
Black’s biggest concern regarding the main roster of WWE is their extensive list of talented WWE Superstars. Despite the fact that they have numerous hours of WWE programming airing each week, Black believes that there is still a lack of storylines for the characters.
“[NXT] has so much talent, and even the main roster,” Black said. “The main roster has too much talent and that’s why it’s a problem sometimes, because there can only be so many top guys. Talent just gets lost sometimes, like, if they had the attitude era. Every single character on the show had a storyline. If they had to do that now, because they have three hours of RAW, three hours of SmackDown, they have all of this TV time. It’s very possible. I just don’t get why they don’t do that.”
You can listen to the full interview above. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Chris Van Vliet with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.