In a series of pre-taped vignettes over the past two months, Aleister Black has been introducing himself to the SmackDown audience. Black recently split from his tag team with Ricochet which was formed after he lost the NXT Championship to Tommaso Ciampa. Black's wrestling style is influenced by his background in kickboxing and his fandom of Jushin Thunder Liger, Chris Jericho, Hayabusa, & Dean Malenko. On Colt Cabana's Art of Wrestling podcast (Ep. 256) Black revealed that while growing up in the Netherlands, his father was a member of a religious cult and that influenced his wrestling persona a great deal. As the face of NXT for a spell, Black proved he can carry a brand, have good matches with everyone on the roster, and deliver compelling storylines like his feud with Velveteen Dream and the serialized mystery of his unknown attacker involving Johnny Gargano, Tomasso Ciampa, Nikki Cross, William Regal, and the rest of the NXT roster.
His vignettes these past two months have been themed around fear, his need for absolution through victory, waiting, patience (or lack thereof), and most recently about his door being open for challengers. On June 8th, WWE's Twitter account asked the fans who they wanted to see answer Black's challenge. They presented the images of Randy Orton, Shinsuke Nakamura, Lars Sullivan, Kevin Owens, Finn Balor, and Buddy Murphy. Black's first feud is coming and the list below examines which SmackDown Superstars might be the best for Aleister Black's first feud. In the comments below, share who you'd like to see Black wrestle in WWE and why.
5. Buddy Murphy
The "best kept secret" of 205 Live was moved to the SmackDown main roster in the Superstar Shakeup after WrestleMania, but hasn't appeared on television since the April 10th NXT where he lost a close match for Velveteen Dream's North American Championship. Murphy's athleticism would allow him to sell Black's offense while providing a formidable, athletic, opponent who can tell a story bell to bell. The department where Murphy is lacking is his depth of character and that is something that Aleister Black can bring out of his opponents. Black won "NXT Feud of the Year" in 2017 for his program with Velveteen Dream which added depth to Dream's androgynous character by highlighting his need for acknowledgement from Black. A program with Black could be a great way to find a new element to Buddy Murphy's persona while building Black as a major star on SmackDown. Murphy and Black have worked house shows together before with Black tweeting high praise for Murphy after a series of matches. Hopefully, we'll get to see these two clash soon. In the meantime, enjoy the video above of Buddy Murphy in a match with Ali.
Aleister Black defeated Andrade for the NXT Championship on April 7th, 2018 sending Andrade off from NXT programming. In the year since then, Andrade has established himself as one of the best wrestlers in the world by putting on amazing televised matches with veteran Superstars like Rey Mysterio. Andrade hasn't been pushed emotionally since coming up to SmackDown and Aleister Black's creepy persona could bring that emotion out of Andrade. Andrade is known for partying and living a privileged life, the brooding Black could employ mind games similar to those played in the past by The Undertaker and Goldust to toy with Andrade. Aleister Black is also married in real life to Zelina Vega, Andrade's manager. This could make for an entertaining conflict of interest for Vega, who has been a driving force behind Andrade's success in WWE. Vega also excellently portrayed AJ Lee in "Fighting With My Family", her acting chops could be utilized in a feud that tests her loyalty to her career with Andrade or her relationship with her husband while showcasing her emotional range.
3. Finn Balor
Finn Balor's Demon is undefeated on the main roster yet still remains an enigma. How is the Demon different than Balor himself? What makes the Demon tick? Alester Black's character and wrestling ability could show us a new side of Balor. Black's hard strikes, high-flying offense, and size advantage will put Balor into a match-up similar to his matches with Seth Rollins. But Black moves like a hybrid of The Undertaker and Jushin Thunder Liger, giving more weight to each strike and slam than Rollins. As a hero on the main roster, Balor has smiled and been silly at times but a feud with Aleister Black could ground his character in reality and conflict that could parallel a horror film if executed properly. We've never seen Finn Balor afraid of anything. What makes him afraid? What does he even care about? Aleister Black was a conduit for NXT personas finding their need. Velveteen Dream and Johnny Gargano both found new depth to their personas in programs with Aleister Black and Finn Balor could be next in line.
2. Shinsuke Nakamura
After losing his feud with AJ Styles for the WWE Championship last summer, Shinsuke Nakamura had a brief feud with Rusev that formed into a tag team. The team has seemingly split as both men haven't appeared on television, aside from the battle royal in Saudi Arabia. Shinsuke Nakamura was one of WWE's hottest stars who was able to carry NXT's touring brand as its top attraction after Finn Balor moved up to the main roster. Nakamura can become a top attraction in a heartbeat if given the opportunity. A feud with Aleister Black could be just the opportunity he needs. One of Black's earliest feuds was with Hideo Itami (KENTA) on NXT with Hitami demanding respect. Everything about the feud was fantastic and set up Itami's move from NXT to 205 Live. A feud with Nakamura could highlight both men's striking ability, their mysteriously charismatic personas, and their ability to create a sense of danger and fear in the audience's minds. Their feud could be similar to the one Itami had with Black but be extended with more violence between the two.
1. Randy Orton
Orton defeated Triple H on a major show for the first time in a decade last week at Super Showdown to chants of "This is awesome!" from the usually reserved crowd in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Where does Orton go from here? Orton's schedule has been lighter in 2019, making his appearances feel significantly more special. As one of the most decorated WWE Superstars of all-time, Randy Orton has little left to prove. Orton recently responded to @WWE's Tweet that asked "who should be the first to face Aleister Black?" by volunteering himself. Orton has always had a violent and sadistic element to his character that would be a formidable challenge to Black's values. Orton's superior in-ring ability would also allow for him to put on a fantastic series of matches with Black. We've seen Black in an Extreme Rules match and a steel cage match in NXT, he could go much farther in a program with the Viper. Randy Orton has been crucial to Seth Rollins and Daniel Bryan's success on their way to the main event scene in WWE and he could do the same for Aleister Black. Although this may be a bit premature for a first feud, sometimes it's better to get what we want now before complications get in the way.