Since PJ Black, f.k.a. Justin Gabriel, departed WWE in 2015 he has appeared in just about every other major promotion out there. From TNA to Lucha Underground to NWA, Black is now a part of Ring of Honor and signed an exclusive deal with them earlier this year.
Black actually had the opportunity to return to WWE and start out in NXT but he chose ROH over them. He revealed why and also talked about his start in WWE’s developmental territory, FCW.
“That was a dream come true for me and, in fact, that was the best year of my life,” Black told Wrestling Inc’s Joey G. “I moved to the U.S. and I had no bills. I didn’t have a car payment or a mortgage payment. They moved me to this house and Florida and I got to wrestle every single day with my friends. I went to the gym, to wrestling shows and tanned. That was my life for 10 months.”
After two years in FCW, Black joined WWE’s main roster as Justin Gabriel and the Nexus was formed a short time later. It was a groundbreaking angle and their debut was unlike anything fans had seen before. Black reflected on that angle and says he didn’t realize how momentous the Nexus was until some time later.
“At the time we didn’t know how big it was gonna be and how cool it was gonna be. Later on, we realized that when people backstage that had been working there for 30-40 years came up to us and were like, ‘This is new. This is something different,'” Black said before adding that storylines in wrestling are often recycled but this was something entirely new.
“I wish it ran a little bit longer as we didn’t even get the WrestleMania moment. But it’s all history now.”
Black had many options when it came to wrestling promotions but ROH stuck out to him due to a variety of factors. He talked about why he chose ROH over NXT and if he’s still happy about the decision four months later.
“Totally, totally happy. So happy. I had an opportunity to go back to NXT. It was the same money for 200 shows more, so really that was a no-brainer for me,” stated Black. “I have creative freedom and freedom outside because I do a lot of things outside of wrestling that they let me do whenever. And with creative freedom in wrestling ? just to be yourself [is important].”
Black said he loves the WWE and he would never knock them, but he believes they micro-manage way too much. He believes that the Attitude Era was so popular because wrestlers had more creative input than they do now.
Apart from the creative freedom, Black said the old-school atmosphere of ROH was also a big draw for him.
“I love the storytelling of ROH and the old-school Code of Honor of shaking hands before and after matches. I feel like fans appreciate wrestling different now than they did years ago. ?As NXT shows, in-ring performance is very important right now and that’s what I like about wrestling; it keeps on evolving,” stated Black.
Our full interview with PJ Black was included on last Friday’s episode of WINCLY TV, which you can watch in the video above (the interview begins at the 25:20 mark). WINCLY TV drops first every Friday on the Ringside Wrestling App on iTunes and Google Play.