And just like that, WWE’s resident satanist, Aleister Black, has been written off Monday Night RAW with a kayfabe arm injury. Black was embroiled in the Seth Rollins/Rey Mysterio feud, occasionally showing up to defend the lucha legend’s honour alongside Humberto Carrillo and Rey’s son Dominik, who seems to be setting up his own pop at the former WWE Champion in time for SummerSlam. This didn’t really do Aleister many favours, who regularly found himself on the receiving end of a Curb Stomp from the ‘Monday Night Messiah’ and now taken out of commission by a brutal ‘arm injury’.
I don’t know about all of you, but I wouldn’t have passed on a dream match between Aleister Black and Seth Rollins for this year’s SummerSlam. Black has more than proven himself as a worthy feature of the mid-card and main event scene, having scored some big wins over the likes of AJ Styles and Bobby Lashley across 2020. The former NXT Champion seemed to be on the precipice of stardom this year, yet never received his big break in a marquee singles match. A SummerSlam encounter with Seth Rollins could have finally spring-boarded him into a position where he could challenge for a singles championship.
Just looking at Black’s career on the main roster, he’s made a pretty big splash without actually achieving much. He is certainly held in an aura, one that makes him seem like a future star regardless of the position he’s in on the card. The majority of NXT call-ups fizzle out after the first year, but Aleister has remained a strong figure on RAW since splitting from Ricochet in 2019. His feuds with AJ Styles, Andrade and most recently, Seth Rollins, have all led to some pretty fun matches. Even his throwaway exhibitions are good fun, just check out his instant classic with Apollo on the RAW after WrestleMania 35. I’m honestly surprised that Black hasn’t been given a shot at the WWE Championship just yet.
Alas, Aleister will now be absent from WWE programming for the foreseeable future, with an impending character change on the cards upon his return. Historically, ‘gothic’ characters tend to fall short of their promise after a few months of competition. One of the few to actually succeed was The Undertaker, a pioneer of ‘the gimmick’, but for every wrestling zombie there’s a genuine vampire in Gangrel, or an evangelical pariah in Mordercai (remember him?). The point is, they rarely make it past the undercard. Aleister Black was the first superstar to actually make a go of things, even with a gimmick that Vinnie Mac is rarely inspired by.
Granted, WWE haven’t truly doubled down on his ‘satanic’ persona. Yes, in promos he’s often thrown out a reference or two to Hell, the Devil and what not, but it’s not like he’s coming to the ring with a Grim Reaper scythe or coming out painted up as a real-life demon, I mean that would just be silly right? This has helped maintain his credibility and made him into one of the most legitimate threats on the RAW roster. His character is more focused on his hard-hitting move-set than his personality, which is precisely how Aleister Black sells himself to audiences so they’re at least booking him to his strengths.
Regardless, rumours are suggesting that Vince McMahon is preparing for him to be repackaged with a new character. As far as what he’s going to be remodelled as, your guess is as good as mine, here’s hoping he doesn’t find God or decide he fancies becoming a dancing sensation in his downtime. But is this really the right course of action for WWE to take with one of their most ready-made stars? Nothing’s really been going wrong for Black, he’s been consistently booked to look strong and the fans are more than ready to see him take the next step in his main roster career.
Long-time fans of Aleister Black will be more than down with seeing his darker side take him through to the top of the pecking order. His work as Tommy End in PROGRESS, WXW and PWG have established him as someone that can be taken seriously while expressing a unique look and style. Although, as we are fully aware, WWE have to turn everything up to 11, and anyone’s individuality will soon be stripped from them in favour of a more marketable character.
Usually, a drastic character change is indicative of the creative team having little material for them, or Vince not having faith in them. This isn’t the case here at all. Vince actually sees a lot of potential in Aleister Black and hopes that he’ll develop into one of his leading stars on Monday Night RAW in due course. However, in order to achieve that status, he needs to evolve into whatever vision Vince has for him.
Hopefully, whenever they do decide to bring the Black Mass out of hiatus, he’ll jump straight back into a battle with Seth Rollins and give us a satisfying conclusion to this ongoing feud. After that, who knows what lies in store for the Dutchman. Perhaps a WWE Championship and nothing but long-term success.
Which gimmick would you like to see Aleister Black return with? Let us know in the comments section below.
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