Signing with AEW this month, Malakai Black (fka WWE’s Aleister Black) made a surprise debut on this past Wednesday’s AEW Dynamite: Road Rager. In his first appearance, Black took down both Arn Anderson and Cody Rhodes in the ring.

AEW Announcer Jim Ross appeared on Busted Open and gave his thoughts on Black’s shocking appearance.

“Well, I’ll tell you the honest to God truth — I didn’t even know that he was there,” Ross said. “We were in a unique building that was kind of old school, had different levels, and different, little cubby-holes. It was funny, Mark [Henry], Big Show, and I shared a room for the announcers. I didn’t see this guy all day long, so I was shocked at how it came off.

“As many fans know that listen to my podcast — which drops every Thursday — I didn’t want to know. I react better if I don’t know the lay of the land, as much. I don’t look at this as a theatrical performance. I look at this as a ballgame, and I don’t need to know who wins the game until the game is over. I was pleasantly surprised that Malakai Black joined us. I saw him after the show, he shook my hand. I never met him before, he said he was glad to meet me and likewise for me.

“I said, ‘We’re counting on you. We’re counting on you to play in a big way. Not just come in and be one of the boys, but come in and be one of the stars.’ I think he hadn’t heard that in a while. And I think that meant a lot to him. I wasn’t trying to blow smoke, I was just trying to say, you’re a highly regarded piece of talent that we value and we’re happy you’re here. So, now we’re looking for great things. You set the bar high with your debut, now let’s see where we can take you.”

As noted, Black was able to show up early to AEW due to a clerical error on WWE’s part. Main roster stars typically have a 90-day non-compete clause after their release, but when Black was moved from NXT to the main roster years back, WWE didn’t update that part of his contract.

You can hear Ross’ full comments in the video below.

If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Busted Open and give a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.