In an appearance on The Zaslow Show, AEW star Malakai Black talked about growing up in a country (the Netherlands) where the pro wrestling scene was scarce. As such, in order to start his wrestling career, Black said he had to create his own scene.
“I grew up in in the Netherlands, in Amsterdam, no wrestling,” Black said. “We had to create the wrestling. I overcame all these obstacles. Moved to an entire different country. This is a road for me for 21 years now. Yes, times get tough, but at the end of the day when the music hits and the lights go on and all that stuff, and you’re in the ring, you feel the crowd, you have your matches. There’s something about hopping in the car, driving through the next town that makes me propel. I love being on the road. There’s been moments in my career that I absolutely hated this, but I needed to hate it long enough to understand why I loved it.”
Black also talked about how he first got into pro wrestling. He credited to a five second WWE clip he saw with his father, and discussed how his parents always encouraged him to pursue his career, despite not being wrestling fans.
“I saw one small clip, and I was hooked,” Black said. “I don’t know if it’s a Mandela Effect that I have a fake memory of wrestling, and Tony says this happened, but he can’t find the footage of it. I’m watching Yokozuna, and The Million Dollar Man (Ted Dibiase) in the ring. It’s that five-second clip that I saw with my dad on my couch that hooked me to wrestling. My mom and dad were not into wrestling. Professional wrestling is so integrated into the fabric of the United States. It’s such a U.S. thing. They never halted me from having interest in it.”
Black is married to Zelina Vega, who is currently competing on WWE’s Smackdown brand. Working for two different companies has occasionally made things tough, but the sacrifices are worth it and they won’t have to be away from each other for forever.
“Do I see her as much as I want to? No, but we both made a conscious decision,” Black said. “The one we made years ago that we wanted to be professional athletes, and we know what comes with that. She’s no stranger to being on the road. She’s been doing this for 12 years, I’ve been doing this for 21 years. We made a commitment to each other, so yes, sometimes it gets tough, and yes, it requires extra travel and extra sacrifice. But at the end of the day, you have to realize it’s temporary. It’s not going to last forever.
“I’m very aware of the mortality of being a professional wrestler or athlete. I say I have another five years on top, and another good five years left to help others get on top. So all in all, if I can squeeze in a decade, this is what I will do until the day I die. I’m setting up a small performance center in the house that my wife and me are currently building close to Tampa. Our goal is to start training people, to get the next generation ready.”
Black also talked about his short but eventful time in AEW. He kept his praise short and sweet, calling AEW the best pro wrestling show around.
“I sometimes say we’re a traveling circus,” Black said. “That’s the beauty about AEW, is that it captures the roots of professional wrestling where there’s a group of individuals that travel the United States, to put on, what is in my opinion, the best pro wrestling show in the world.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit The Zaslow Show and provide a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription