Aleister Black made his chilling return to WWE this past week, ensuring that nobody had forgotten the devastation he left in his wake as part of NXT and his brief run on the main roster in 2019. Having spent just over a year on the sidelines due to injury and a seeming lack of creative ideas from the writers backstage, Black promises to cull the herd of superstars on the blue brand, bringing the Black Mass back into the fold to vie for the WWE’s top championships.
Black impressed fans and backstage figures alike with his competitive matches against the likes of AJ Styles, Buddy Murphy and Seth Rollins before taking a hiatus after WrestleMania 36. Since then, the WWE Universe has been keeping their fingers crossed for Aleister to return in a big way and not find him among the list of latest releases.
With his latest promo, there’s a huge buzz surrounding his new character, one that looks to punish and victimise both physically and mentally. With that in mind, which superstars should Aleister Black step into the ring with first upon his return? Here’s five potential return feuds for ‘The Dutch Destroyer’.
1. Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan is in the process of winding down his full-time wrestling career and seems to be tying up loose ends with Roman Reigns heading into Backlash. It would seem somewhat unbecoming of the former WWE Champion if he were to just vanish from our screens following his final encounter with ‘The Tribal Chief’, and with Bryan’s eye for future stars, it would be more likely for him to put an up-and-coming wrestler over on his way out of the door.
Aleister Black vs. Daniel Bryan could very well be a show stealer, with both men favouring a hard-hitting, MMA-inspired wrestling style that could be extremely fun to see play out in a high-profile match. Bryan could delve back into his ROH/indie days in this heavily requested dream match, while finally giving Aleister a chance to show off his full range of skills.
Whether this is Daniel Bryan’s final match before taking a bow, or a prelude to his retirement feud, this will be a huge win-win for both men involved.
2. Sami Zayn
Sami Zayn has arguably been the highlight of SmackDown Live in recent weeks. His new, deranged character has made for an exciting feud with former BFF Kevin Owens, and things seem to be reaching its end for now with a suspected rematch at Backlash. After that however, Zayn should move on to bigger and better things, and a match against the returning Aleister Black could be exactly what ‘The Liberator’ needs for that to happen.
Since his NXT days, Zayn hasn’t quite dazzled the audience like we all know he can, the potential for instant classics is there but WWE refuse to let him off the leash. A match between these two former NXT champions could be a sure-fire show-stealer, with both men having styles that would naturally bounce off of each other. Zayn would likely take another loss here, but if it means his character keeps getting some much-needed screen time, then what comes next could indeed be championship glory.
3. Apollo Crews
The Intercontinental Champion has had one hell of a career revival over the last month or so, claiming his first WrestleMania win as well as a beefy henchmen in the former Babatunde/Dabba Kato. Apollo Crews now sits atop the mid-card throne, dispatching of Big E and looking to new challengers. Once Black makes his return, it’s likely that he’ll immediately set his sights on Crews’ title, making for an exciting encounter somewhere down the line.
Black and Crews both have the capabilities to put on one heck of an IC title match, one that could rival former opponents in Savage/Steamboat, Ziggler/Harper and HBK/Ramon. Should Aleister be coming back as a babyface, he’d be the natural successor to Apollo’s reign, let’s just hope it won’t be in a Nigerian Drum Fight this time round.
The equalizer will of course be Apollo’s new Commander Azeez, who has been channelling his inner Umaga with the not-Samoan Spike. We’ll have to see if the Black Mass can topple a man of such size and power on his road to his first WWE title.
4. Shinsuke Nakamura
With Cesaro making headway towards the Universal Championship, SmackDown’s other pet project has been left aimless since being the final elimination in the 2021 Andre Battle Royal. Shinsuke Nakamura seemed to be slowly pulling back some of the momentum he once held upon his main roster debut, but without any clear direction is once again falling by the wayside.
A series of matches against fellow MMA-enthusiast, Aleister Black, could be a great way for both superstars to start re-building their credibility. This hard-hitting affair absolutely has to happen somewhere down the line, putting a championship in the mix as well would be a sure-fire way of making this a blockbuster match. Nakamura hasn’t really had his one defining main roster performance yet, perhaps exchanging stiff kicks and forearms with the Dutchman could be the opportunity he needs to do himself justice, while giving Black a great feud in the process.
5. Roman Reigns
Let’s all acknowledge the ‘Tribal Chief’ as being pretty unbeatable following WrestleMania. Unless WWE want to pull a fast one and curveball a Cesaro victory at Backlash, Reigns is likely holding onto the Universal Championship for the foreseeable future. Very few are on the same level as the Samoan mafioso, enter: Aleister Black.
Black has been, in the past, considered a solid threat to some of WWE’s top stars, including at one time, Brock Lesnar. After sifting through some of the mid-card wrestlers, Black could very well challenge for the Universal Championship and act as both an underdog babyface and a valiant destroyer who seeks to dethrone ‘The Head of the Table’.
It’s going to take some work on WWE’s part to make Aleister Black seem worthy of being the one to defeat Roman Reigns in the midst of his best run to date, but considering the efforts they’ve gone to already with just one promo, I have faith in the former NXT champ.
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