On the latest episode of WWE's The Bump, "The Dutch Destroyer," Aleister Black, made an in-studio appearance to discuss his current run, and how he got there. But before he dived into it, he spoke about what led him to become a pro wrestler in the first place.
"I watched professional wrestling at a very early age. We didn't get WWE in the Netherlands, but we did get New Japan Pro Wrestling, and other promotions that were running in America at the time," Black stated. "As a 4-year-old, I saw two men competing in the ring, and I thought it was martial arts. I asked my parents if I could do martial arts. So, I was 5 or 6-years-old, and I was doing karate and jiu-jitsu.
"Later on, I started kickboxing. Then, it just progressed. I did a little bit of everything, but predominantly, I did kickboxing. At age 9, I wished I realized that martial arts and professional wrestling were not the same thing, but I was doing it, and I was having a lot of fun with it. At 15-years-old, I always wanted to do professional wrestling, and at 15, I started training as a professional wrestler. It was always the plan to become an entertainer, a sports entertainer. I used martial arts to define myself as a wrestler in this business."
Throughout his career, Black has stepped inside the squared circle with many worthy opponents. But, there was one opponent who inspired him to become the wrestler that he is at this point.
"Jushin "Thunder" Liger was just different," Black noted. "[On his match with Liger] I told myself if I'm not ready now, I'll never be ready. I thought if I can't have a good match with this man, or have a match with this man and feel comfortable with it, then I shouldn't be here. Obviously, there was pressure and some nerves, but my match with him was indescribable. Here's this one guy that you watched forever - he was one of the first guys that I ever saw on TV-and now you're competing with this guy. He is an enigma. He's so unique and has influenced me and many others. He was a pivotal point in wrestling itself, as an entity I'd say."
Those who follow the business know that many pro wrestlers at some point in their careers change their gimmick. Whether it's something as small as their wardrobe, or something big like their character name. Black had no problem transitioning from being formally known as Tommy End to Aleister Black. He believes he has always been the same person, in the same body, but has a newer and edgier soul.
"So, when we first started changing [my name], I didn't think that I had to change myself that much. I just had to find myself more," Black proclaimed. "If I look at who I am as a person and where my interests lie, I figured that going from Tommy End to Aleister Black was almost like a possession. So, one entity to the other. So, when you see me go from my first match with Andrade, I step off the platform and I walk down the ramp, you see me looking at my hands and squeezing my fists. It's almost like I'm being warped into another reality. It's like I'm in the same body, but have a different soul. That is how I came into it. Aleister Black is the same person, but just has a different soul."
Back in 2018, Black created an emotional uproar when he won the NXT Championship off of Andrade at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans. Black notes that he was filled with many different emotions that night, mostly happy, but didn't want to break character too much after receiving the gold.
"I went into it like I would any other match [calm], but deep down inside I was screaming in the best of ways," Black said. "I was thinking 'Hey man, you just won a WWE title, that's crazy.' It was hard to contain the emotions. I remember there were memes of Aleister Black smiling and people were kind of freaked out by it because they didn't see me smile that often. It was a genuine moment for me."
With WrestleMania 36 just around the corner, Black does not have a specific opponent in mind just yet that he would like to face. He mentions that he will let fate decide his upcoming journey.
"Well, I've got to deal with a certain man by the name of AJ Styles [tonight]. I'm not sure if I trust Seth Rollins enough. Then, there's been stuff lingering in the back of my mind with Buddy Murphy from the Royal Rumble. There are a lot of ways that it could go at the moment, but I'm going to let fate decide that for me, and whatever is thrown at me, I'll make sure to knock it out of the park."
You can view Black's full interview above. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit WWE's The Bump with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.