Fade to Black

When Aleister Black was among those cut in yet another mass firing from WWE, I was frustrated. Well, that’s putting it mildly. I desperately wanted to see where he was going to take the Dark Father storyline and why he used Black Mass on Big E. So much would go unanswered.

Fortunately WWE is like me: not smart sometimes. The silly billies over there forgot to update his contract so he’d have a 90-day non-compete clause, instead he had his 30-day non-compete that remained from his time in NXT. How it went unnoticed is beyond me.

That, coupled with his undiscovered brilliance and creativity made his surprise debut and subsequent pop at AEW’s Road Rager special of Dynamite all the more impactful. This clerical error caused the start of something great, yet eerie in equal measure.

What started off as a vignette of Tommy End being consumed by some evil force at some mental asylum continued with his assault on the Nightmare Family. Taking out Arn Anderson, Cody Rhodes, Brock Anderson, Arn Anderson (again), Shotty Lee, Dustin Rhodes, and Cody Rhodes (again) – the dismantlement of the Nightmare Family has set the stage for what a force he is.

Credit: AEW

Let’s start with his entrance. Oh God, what an entrance. The darkness and the fog, giving way to his eerie silhouette, the antlers from his mask giving an uncanny valley effect, grounding this gimmick in realism with his kickboxing and mixed martial arts style with this thing that makes him feel inhuman, dragged up from the dark depths of whatever horrifying afterlife you can think of or concoct. Maybe further than that, further than anything the human mind can imagine.

As he walks down the ramp and to the ring as the harbinger of creeping death, the song “Ogentroost” reflects that with the slow, deep riffs leading into agonizing screams, crying out as if they’re warning us that nothing good is going to happen. It’s near suffocating.

Credit: AEW

Then the blackouts, much like the night he debuted. First on the ropes, overlooking past the top turnbuckle. Then sitting down on the mat, and the darkness is removed as he unmasks. And he waits.

The cadence carried by his opponents shows fear has chilled them to the bone, most notably so far being Lee Johnson, who perfectly portrayed the nervousness and fear from this occasion.

With his shoot-style, Malakai already looks like an intimidating fighter, but the way he moves in the ring brings him to another level entirely. The slow, hungry, stalking way he makes his way to his prey to the way he seems to glide within seconds across the ring to attack accentuates just how deadly he is.

Many may have mocked Black for his ideas, ignoring how amazingly creative he is given the right tools to succeed, but he’s quickly silencing them, as though he has delivered his own Black Mass.

That’s just the aura he has. He feels so distinctly unique, from his presence to his presentation – nobody on WWE or AEW’s rosters possess the mere feel that he has.

Credit: AEW

Malakai is an artist, and he is going to paint the canvas in nothing but black.