Malakai Black Recalls Feeling “A Disconnect” With Vince McMahon Shortly Before WWE Release

AEW star Malakai Black was on today's episode of the Talk Is Jericho podcast. He and Chris Jericho discussed Black's WWE release, and Black revealed the conversation he had with John Laurinaitis.

"I have been told the actual reason, which I can't talk about that because number one, it's no longer relevant because I'm here now," Black pointed out. "Two weeks before I attacked Big E on the night of the last vignette, I had a sit down with Vince, and he was very convinced of it. He liked it. I just wanted to get his thoughts. I hadn't seen him in six months. A lot happened at that point. I wanted to sit down with him a little bit and kind of see how he was doing.

"We had just a normal conversation. 'How do you feel about it?' And he was like, 'Yeah, great. I it like a lot,' and then we did the attack on Big E. Something about it just didn't feel right, and I told my wife. I don't know what it was. The way he looked, there was a disconnect. Not a disconnect as in, 'I don't get it,' but I kind of felt that he had made up his mind even back then. It's his company. It's fine. No harm, no foul.

"Johnny Ace calls me. Even he was confused. He's like, 'I have to let you go. I have a list of people today, and you're the one that I've put question marks behind. I don't get it. I'm sorry. We're invoking the rights for 90 days,' and with everything that happened, and everything the way it went, and with the vignettes, you just know. You had this gut feeling. I saw his number pop up, and I look at my wife. We're in the gym. I was just warming up, and I remember thinking in my head, here we go, because why would he call me on a Thursday morning? That conversation happened.

"I was shocked. I was kind of like, 'S**t, John, we just started.' He's like, 'I don't get it. Couple names on my list, I don't get it. Sorry, kid. Phones always there,' love Johnny, and my wife started crying because she knew. I feel so bad for her because she was about to come back, and one of the main reasons why she wanted to come back is because I was there, which was more or less the driving force, other than the promises that they made her."

Black would go on to make his surprise AEW debut in Miami. However, he appeared much sooner than his perceived 90-day non-compete clause would have allowed because due to an error, Black had a 30-day non-compete clause. Black revealed his reaction when he found out about the error.

"I think they forgot about it. I think they forgot to update it," Black said. "I remember seeing that. I took a picture of it, and I sent it to my agent. I'm like, 'Dude, do you see what I'm seeing?' He's like, 'Does that mean 30 days?' It's like, 'I think it does,' so I contacted someone within the company. I said, 'Look, am I reading this correct?' And this person said, 'No, that's correct. Even now, I'm looking at it, you have 30 days,' and I'm like, 'Alright, perfect.'"

Black discussed his early talks before debuting with AEW. He also commented on how well his debut went and was received.

"Between my agent and other people, because obviously, I can't be involved in anything," Black noted. "You have to stay away from that, and we did that, but then when the contract was over, I said, 'Look, this is my idea. What do you think? Do you like it?' And I think Tony [Khan] appreciated the urgency of it, and the 'I got to act now.' And I think he made a good call because it was definitely one of the most viewed things that happened in recent times, if I gave myself a little bit of a pat, and I already had this idea that I wanted to make this little movie because again, I wanted to get some stuff out of my system, which I did through that little 'the devil made me do it' movie.

"And I was like, 'Well, why don't we connect the two? Why don't we connect the lights cutting into the video with the show?' It was perfect because there was a storyboard as well, and then I was told that the wiring of that building was actually kind of iffy, and they did such a good job of selling it as 'we're having guys doing flashes.' I just thought that was cool, and for me, again, when I see something like that come full circle, that's where I love wrestling the most."

Jericho then asked Black what he has found to be different in AEW compared to WWE. Black explained why things can feel more organic in AEW than in WWE.

"Just the level of understanding for a lot of the things, more so with the main roster," Black said. "You have a platform to talk. You can voice your ideas, and your ideas are not going to get, 'Yeah, we're not doing that.' You know as well as I do that wrestling is based on risk. A lot of times you have to take a risk with a storyline. You got to take a risk with a promo. You have to take a risk with two guys. It all comes down to, 'Let's do our best to make this work,' but you never have a guarantee, and I feel that there was less micromanaging and going, 'Hey, you know what, let's just organically let this happen, and we'll see what the payoff is. We can always damage control to an extent. We can always fix something. We can always change, of course. We can always change the direction. We can always make something work with what we are presenting, and whatever comes out of it, we can take it and we can roll it into a different ball.

"We can stick it right there,' and I feel there, they're trying to micromanage that rolling in the ball process too much because there can't be any margin for error. And here, because there is room for it, there isn't any. There isn't like, 'Let's overthink this process too much. Let's try to get inside the mind of one individual and try to think of this as his vision on things. There is, 'This is how we think it works. Okay, you agree with that. Alright, let's execute it,' and I think that there's a level of trust here that we as professionals know what we're doing.

"Where there, it's not necessarily distrust, but there's more like, 'Nah, we'll do it our way,' and then a lot of times, I feel like it loses a lot of its organic flow while the reality is that locker room is full of brilliant people, same as here. The locker rooms are great on both ends. I think there's more talent in the business now, more creative minds now in whichever locker room you go into now than ever before, and I think that's a testimony of the healthy state of the business itself, the locker rooms, but the drive to have things happen organically and just letting it go, that, for me, is the biggest difference because it makes everybody enjoy the process so much more and the learning from it is much better because now you're picking up on it, because now you can soak it up."

If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.