Malakai Black is applauded for the strength of his character work as much as his talent in the ring. The most moving performers of this art form often draw inspiration from their own experiences. The cult and occult character that Black portrays in All Elite Wrestling is no different.
He first tinkered with it as Tommy End on the independent circuits. This cult character transformed into Aleister Black in WWE NXT. In AEW, Black portrays a more ominous, borderline supernatural iteration of what Tommy End was.
“I’m passionate about tattoo culture. I really like the alternative music scene. It’s mostly black metal and hardcore,” Black told CBS Sports. “I have a fascination with the occult because I grew up in a certain household that had some very disturbing and interesting things. So I know how to live with these cult figures because I grew up with that. I understand that. It’s part of myself that I can put into these characters. In a year, two years after that, it started to take off. It has to contain an essence of yourself.
“I think as you grow up you start to understand yourself better. Especially your past traumas. You start to recognize and overcome them. And when you overcome them you can build on them. You know they’re not fighting against you. They work with you… The older you get, the more you understand yourself.
Check out the full interview with Malakai Black below.
Black has expressed reluctance to expand on his childhood. He wanted to make it clear that many people involved in his youth worked diligently to grow. It was important for Black to be aware that opening up about the subject could impact other people who have made progress in their own lives.
“Obviously these are things that are more in demand, but the problem is that a lot of these people are still alive and, for a lot of them, they have changed their ways. So I don’t feel like it. comfortable talking about it,” Black said. “I don’t want their hard work to be slapped because I felt the need to talk about it on a platform. These people worked really hard not to be in that position.”
Upon reflection, Black opened up about how certain aspects of his family life influenced his interests and the character he portrays.
“Parts of my family grew up with a type of religion that wasn’t mainstream and it was an ‘end of the world’ type religion,” Black said. “It was a very apocalyptic day, you are on this Earth so you are a sinner. It doesn’t matter what you do. You are sent here to Earth and you will sweat and work. There is no love. there was no affection, there was nothing, there was only you [and] God working for your redemption. And hopefully, at the end of that redemption, at the end of your life, you have redeemed yourself enough to have earned a place in heaven.
“The 1950s, 60s and 70s were a pivotal time for many people when the world started to change and open up their minds. New ideas were coming in. A lot of my family was very conflicted with that ideology. affected in a negative way, in a way that they wanted to get away from it. That’s what they did, but it affected their personality and it affected their way of perceiving the world because they didn’t understand it because they’ve been under cover for so long a long time… This religion, even then, had sectarian tendencies. A lot of things that happened in this church were very debatable.
His family’s ties to this religion had a profound influence on them.
“It really impacted my childhood because obviously the people who raised me always had ties to those religions or they were shaped by those religions,” Black said. “I don’t want to use the word brainwashed, but I want to use the word lost. Brainwashing is a very cumbersome method, but if you don’t know better than what you are presented with as a child growing up, then it’s very hard to escape this stereotypical method of indoctrination that you’ve been subjected to. Diving into that family history and diving into all of those people and diving into a lot of those religions, because it’s a small branch, I think these days alone there are only 100,000 people following it. It’s pretty dark. It really gave me a sense of how these people think and see the world.
“I basically took that and kind of grabbed a bunch of stuff that I witnessed as a kid and the stories that I heard and molded it into what started to happen. originally as Tommy End. Because of this, I started reading about esoteric subjects. I began to be fascinated by the occult because in a weirdly twisted way, they kind of tie together because one is so dark and, I mean in my eyes, almost like a compassionate way to live one’s life. They’re very against anything else. So I started to be fascinated with the other. What’s the thing that you’re objecting to? And then kind of like slowly but surely you’re slipping into these things. I just find it fascinating that there are so many religious systems in the world and what’s perceived and deemed OK, and what doesn’t seem OK And why isn’t it OK?
Black’s fascination with the occult was shaped by his grandfather, who is said to have had his own experiences with the dark arts.
“My grandfather on my mother’s side was actually a very devout Roman Catholic, but he was sent to Malaysia [when] he was 17, 18 years old. He was just a church kid and then he was thrown into that society after World War II,” Black said. “He’s under a different religion, a different kind of religious system, different kinds of people because he only ever saw the small town he was from in the Netherlands.
“He’s in his late 40s and he’s from this completely different side of the world, where everything looks different and is different. He’s seen so many things that made him not question his own religion, but that made him realize that there was more to the world than what is presented to us by a church or by what mom or dad sees, or by what is happening on your street.”
Black told the story of acts of black magic his grandfather allegedly witnessed in a Malaysian village.
“It’s also something that had a big influence on me because my grandfather would tell me incredible stories about – and it may sound weird – but he would tell me stories about things he had witnessed with the black magic in Malaysia,” Black said. . “There was a type of voodoo they used called Guna-Guna. He got involved in that in that he saw this happening around the camps. Things were on hold and the soldiers were sick and they couldn’t find what was going on and the villagers were like, ‘Oh, he’s subject to this voodoo.’ This also piqued my interest.
“As a kid I was exposed to a lot of maybe weird things, but it really shaped my mind to question everything and look at the world differently than a lot of kids. It made for a very interesting in a way, you know what I mean? A lot of hard times and a lot of things like growing up very, very, very hard, very disconnected often. It definitely wasn’t your average childhood when it comes to this kind of stuff.