Aleister Black was moved to the SmackDown brand as part of the 2020 WWE Draft. The former NXT Champion recently spoke to Sports Illustrated about the evolution of his character, battling mental health issues and much more.
The man formerly known by Tommy End achieved a great deal of success in NXT. Since transitioning to the main roster in February 2019, the results have been mixed. In recent months he turned heel, got new theme music and has been sporting an eye patch after getting viciously attacked by Seth Rollins and Buddy Murphy.
Black spoke to Justin Barrasso about these changes. “I think the reason for that is we moved so far away from what Aleister Black was in NXT that people started getting confused about what exactly Aleister Black was supposed to be,” he said.
“After a few conversations, I said, ‘I need a different direction.’ That led to the creation of this new Aleister Black, where he is a little more human and people can latch on to him quicker.”
Black clarified that being ‘a little more human’ does not necessarily mean being a good guy. It can also mean being a villain, but he thinks it makes it easier for fans to identify with the character’s motives.”
The Great Chessboard
Black has struggled to find his footing on the main roster. However, he is not discouraged. He sees the opportunities presented on Raw and SmackDown as a “great chessboard.” If he does not get the opportunity to do what he needs to do, he’s got no problem burning the whole chessboard.
“If that means he’s sent to purgatory, that’s fine, because he’s been in purgatory. If you want to take it one step further and send him to hell, that’s fine, too. He’s accustomed to hell, his whole childhood was spent there. If Aleister Black doesn’t get his opportunity, then no one does.”
Aleister Black acknowledges that this mentality is more relatable than what we saw from his first year on the main roster.
“Before, that motive wasn’t as clear. A few months ago, what did he stand for? He was fighting for himself, then he got entangled with Rey Mysterio, and that left himself open to vicious beatings each week. It seemed like he never learned from his mistakes, which is strange for Aleister, because he seems so calculated. That got shuffled away a little bit.”
Head over to Sports Illustrated to read their full interview with Aleister Black.