One day before he debuted on AEW Dynamite, Malakai Black joined Drinks With Johnny to talk about his release from WWE. Black has discussed the release several times over the past several weeks and he went into detail about the shock of it all, waiting several months at home while off TV and his constant pitching of ideas to WWE creative.
“It was a shock, of course it was a shock,” Black said of the release. “Of course it sucked. Of course there were things I was really mad about, but I chose not to dive onto that. The thing is I felt very relieved, because I felt like a lot of the pressure was off of me. If you sit at home for seven months and you’re someone like me that constantly wants to work. I basically felt like I was in the starting block for seven months waiting for the gun to go off for me to take off. You accumulate a lot of stress, you accumulate a lot of pressure, and you just want to move forward. You’re crazy texting, calling, emailing every single day to see ‘hey guys. What are we doing? What are we doing?’
“It was a good feeling once we finally got started, but then obviously it got cut short. And I just went like ‘okay, I can do two things right now. I can completely crush myself and go ‘oh my god.” But I had already been sitting at home for seven months. I already knew what it was to not be involved with the company anymore, because it didn’t feel I was part of the company anymore. Prior to my release I had a bunch of really long conversations with headquarters, where I was trying to get myself more involved with the company. Because I was trying to learn more about the company. But you know, that’s about as much out of them, building and working on this new character, that I really did in terms of working.”
Black also went into detail about getting endorsement offers while in WWE and turning them down due to WWE’s third party policy. Since getting released Black has been able to have discussions on endorsements and sponsorships, and is enjoying that as well as the opportunity to control his own destiny.
“I’d get thrown a lot of endorsement stuff,” Black said. “But I’d have to turn that down because WWE has a third party policy, or no third party policy for some bizarre reason. (After my release) I was now able to talk to all these people who had been wanting to work with me for so long, and have like cool conversations and get these endorsement deals that I’ve been wanting for the longest time. As of today, actually as of yesterday, I’m officially endorsed by Hayabusa Fight Gear. I think is one of the coolest things because I love Hayabusa. I’ve been a fan of their products for like the longest time. Besides professional wrestling I have an extensive background in martial arts, more specifically kickboxing and Muay Thai. So I’ve been wearing gloves for the longest time. And my gloves of choice, for the most part, have been Hayabusa. So for them to approach me and say ‘hey Tom, we’ve been wanting to work with you’ and this and that, that’s been one of the coolest things.
“There’s been a lot of these things that I can’t really talk about too much that have come my way that are mind blowing, that these people want to work with me. But it gives me this feeling of ‘it’s not the end of the world that you got cut from WWE.’ Every day’s been super positive. I feel mentally, I feel really healthy. It’s kind of weird to describe for a guy like me, who’s been on edge for the past four, five years because I always put so much pressure on myself to perform and to be the best version of my character, of my persona, or me as a human being that I can be. To now kind of go and say ‘now I get to pick and choose. Now I get to control this part of my life. Now I get to control this narrative that I want and do it my way. And with other opportunities in the wrestling world that have come towards me.'”
Black continued, reiterating the positive mindset he has developed since his release. While he’s sure there will be moments of reflection and down time, right now he is feeling nothing but positivity and a sense that things will work out.
“It’s been one of those ‘it’s going to be okay’ feelings,” Black said. “And that’s, undoubtedly, worth its weight in gold. Because you can’t put a price on creativity, you can’t put a price on mental health. It’s just been super positive and I’m just really content. I’m sure there’s going to be moments where I’m not, because that’s just life. You can’t always be riding high and never be bothered by stuff. I think in due time there’s going to be moments where I’ll reflect and I’ll try to put that in context for myself. But ever since three weeks ago I got released, I’m just a ball of positivity and I feel accomplished, you know? I think that’s the right word, I feel accomplished. Very accomplished.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Drinks With Johnny and provide a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription