Earlier this month Malakai Black, formerly as Aleister Black in WWE, made his debut by attacking Cody Rhodes live on AEW Dynamite. Black will make his in-ring debut against Cody Rhodes on August 4th at AEW Dynamite: Homecoming.
AEW Commentator Jim Ross spoke about Black’s arrival in AEW after his debut saying he had no idea that Malakai was going to make his appearance. JR continued to talk about the former WWE Superstar’s surprise appearance on Grilling JR, mentioning how he was shocked that WWE let him go.
“I didn’t see him all day, I’ve never met him in my life and didn’t meet him before the show,” Ross said. “I knew the rumblings that we’ve got some surprises tonight and I’ve been very adamant with my associates and peers that I don’t need to know that information. Now that may come off as arrogant, but for me to be real, natural and spontaneous, I don’t need to know it, I don’t need to precondition myself. It loses the magic. I don’t need to know any finishes, the day I can’t interoperate a finish and how it works out, when I can’t do that then somebody else will be sitting in the chair in the middle [of the announce team].
“Malakai is a big acquisition for us and I’m glad he’s on our team. I’m very surprised that WWE let him slip away, I don’t know all the backstory for that stuff. I don’t know, but I know we’re lucky we have him, he’s a unique talent. Looks like his first dancing partner is going to be Cody, and they’ll have a hellacious run I think. Both are young and hungry, Cody is one of my favorites in and out of the ring and that’s because I was so close to his father, I feel compelled even though he’s never asked me to, to look out for him a bit. That will be a hell of a run whenever it is. I think Tony Khan has some other surprises I hear coming up. Tony’s been very aggressive, much like the Trevor Lawrence draft pick. He’s shooting for the moon with a lot of guys and I think we’re going to be loaded up for Summer and Fall and keep getting stronger.”
AEW has received criticism from some fans about signing “too many former WWE superstars who are old.” WWE Hall of Famer Booker T stated that the company could be heading in the direction of WCW back in March. This past week, it was revealed that CM Punk and Daniel Bryan have reportedly signed with the company. Ross mentioned how some people have called AEW “WWE Lite” because they have signed so many former WWE stars, and believes they’ve done a great job building their own homegrown talent.
“It’s a weak argument,” Ross said. “I don’t agree with that, I’m not knocking WWE, it’s not my charge in life to criticize the WWE, I had 26 years there in WWE. I don’t feel like we’re in a wrestling war, the war is AEW vs. itself. Getting our young guys to continue to evolve and get better. I think we are seeing that. Some of our home grown kids are starting to find their way. It’s a big difference in working in PWG or an indie show or working a match on a national television show. It’s a different mindset, it’s a different ball game and a lot of our guys never had that, never played in that ballgame.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Grilling JR with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.