Malakai Black was able to debut for AEW barely a month into his WWE release due to a clerical error on his non-compete clause. Once Black became a free agent sooner than expected, he sat down with AEW President Tony Khan to pitch an idea for his on-screen character.

According to Black, the conversation with Khan lasted less than 10 minutes.

“That [AEW debut] was pivotal, to be able to make such an impact right away, and being allowed to make such an impact my way,” Black told Orlando Sentinel. “My conversation with [Khan] about what I wanted to do with my character wasn’t any longer than 10 minutes and he was sold.

“Even before [in WWE], when I had handcuffs on [stylistically], my body of work stood for itself, but there’s a lot of trust here in what I can do.”

Black stated that his AEW character is largely influenced by occultism, pagan tribalism and Celtic lore.

“He’s sadistic, but thoughtful,” Black said of his on-screen persona. “He isn’t careless. He’s capable of showing respect and emotion, but he’s very particular about it. He gets cheered sometimes, and I think that’s because deep within everybody, we all have a violent nature when we draw more on the negative side of things.”

This Saturday on AEW Dynamite, Black will face arch rival Cody Rhodes for the third time within the span of a few months. Black plans to end the rivalry for good and ascend to greater heights.

“If I’m going to do something, I might as well do it with the biggest diamond of the company,” Black said. “As a wrestler, I can’t say I have anything but respect for him. But to get ahead, you have to cut off the head of the dragon, and he was one of the biggest dragons.”

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