With another massive list of terminations made just last week in WWE, former Superstars like Aleister Black (now known as Tommy End) were left to wonder: What’s next for their careers? This week on Oral Sessions with Renee Paquette, End revealed an in-depth perspective of the days leading up to his release, his most recent character, the Dark Father, and where he stands now. But first, they discussed one of the cons WWE faces when building up their roster, something that’s been echoed among those currently in WWE and beyond.
“I think that the issue is that there is not enough focus on people around the main people being pushed,” Tommy End related on what WWE lacks as a promotion and company. “You have to have a continuous stream of people being built up and people being able to be revered by fans and being built up by the eyes of the fans. I think that’s a problem. And nothing that I’m saying now is shocking news because that’s the main consensus for a lot of people. Why wouldn’t you make everyone that you’re utilizing strong? You can only do so much.”
Then, End got into the nitty-gritty of his main roster run in WWE from 2019 till last week, and if he ever felt any disconnect with Vince McMahon, which may have cost him his release.
“So, I think we have to go back to the start of my NXT career,” End began to give some context on where the downfall in his career with WWE began and surfaced. “I remember the match that I had with Velveteen [Dream], and that was the match that put me on the map. I remember Hunter [Levesque] telling me about a year and a half ago, even back then, Vince [McMahon] was like, ‘I want that guy.’ Hunter was like, ‘No, I have this program, and I want to finish and write that out.’ Eventually, it was somewhere in February that I got a call from Matt Bloom saying, ‘You’re moving up.’
“I remember sitting down with Vince for the very first time because [Paul] Heyman was like, ‘Look, you gotta go in there and talk to him.’ It was a very positive conversation. Vince was full praise of where he sees me and where he sees me going. [There were] a lot of promises. But, you know, the translation wasn’t there. So, obviously, at one point, you start doubting yourself. I think it was after the Money In The Bank – the Mysterio storyline – I was like, ok, what are we doing?”
End then explained the additional efforts he put in to talk to Vince McMahon over where his career was going and what he could do to get back on the right track.
“I knocked on the door, and this was the fourth or fifth conversation [I had with him]. I sat down with him, he told me, ‘I think you’re so intriguing. I think your look is great. I think your style is great. But there’s something about you that, right now, I’m trying to figure out.’ So, he sent me home, and I came back with Kevin Owens, and we did the storyline. It went well for two weeks, then somehow, in the pipeline, something changed. Aleister Black, who was never seen in either a suit or in his wrestling gear, was standing at Raw Underground in his shorts. No one told me. I found out just as the show was supposed to start that this was what we were doing. I remember going what this isn’t what we were set out to do.
“Everything went downhill. Fans saw it, I saw it, creative saw it. It got to the point where I sat down with our VP, and I said, ‘Look, something has got to change. This is not going right. I’ve been here for a year and a half, and I feel like I’ve just been ping-ponged continuously.’ I had a talk with Bruce Prichard and Vince that lasted about 30-40 minutes, and it was a long talk, but a good talk. Again, full praise on my ability to fully be honest with him while also being respectful. He also said how he appreciated my creative thought process. He also understood that there were things during my time on the main roster that went the way he didn’t want it to go. He said, ‘I’m sorry for that, and I apologize, but let’s do it this way. We’re going to send you home for a bit. We’re going to get some separation between you and Kevin Owens. And when you come back, we’re off to the races.’ ”
“I was supposed to come back Rumble time, I think, either on Rumble or before. Not sure. Obviously, that never came to fruition, so I sat home for seven months. I kept asking, what are we doing? I don’t think I’ve ever been so frustrated in those seven months sitting home than I’ve been in my life or in my entire career.”
During his seven-month timeout from the company, End mentioned how his Dark Father persona was something that not only helped him get back into WWE – or so he thought – but it was also a lifesaver for his mental health.
“I let myself go. I was so unhappy mentally, and I was in denial with it,” End revealed. “I was like, ok, die on your own sword. Put in the work. Present it. Rope the vignettes. Pitch the vignettes. They tweaked some things. Initially, we wanted to do it with real actors, but, you know, COVID, money, all that stuff.
“I was like, hey, what if we do it as a children’s book? At the time, Jordan Peele’s Candyman trailer was there, and they used the paper puppets, and he [one of the writers] sent it to me and said, ‘Hey, what do you think about this?’ I’m like, if we can pull it off, that would be so cool! The vignettes were brillant! One of the things that I thought was cool with the vignettes is that Deadline did a small little note on them because apparently, they boosted the ratings. I sent it to everyone and was like, look, what we’re doing is working.
“I wanted to be very involved in the entire process of the Dark Father. I wanted to do this completely different. Everyone was on board and loved it. Two weeks before I came back and struck Big E in the head, I had to sit down with Vince. He was his normal self. He was like, ‘Are you ready to do it?’ And I’m like, ‘Yep.’ He’s like, ‘You look good, and we’re going to get to it.’ Then three days ago, I’m sitting in the gym, and I see a certain name on my phone calling me. I pick up, and this person didn’t understand, but they had to let me go.”
Looking back on the wild trip he’s endured since his return, End sees this whole experience with WWE as an empowering moment on how well he can adapt with little to no control creatively.
“All it did for me was present how resilient I am as a person and how creative I can be with shackles on, and how I can create with the boundaries that I’ve been given. My mind can go in a lot of good places when I’m being held down,” End concluded.
You can listen to Tommy End’s full interview here. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Oral Sessions w/Renée Paquette with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.