During a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, Aleister Black commented on the evolution of his character in WWE, dealing with mental health issues, and more. You can check out some highlights from the interview below:
On his new entrance in WWE: “The entrance is not done yet. Everything you miss about the old entrance, there will be substitutes for them. It will come, but it’s going to take a second to get everything ready. Us pulling the trigger on the new music—could we have waited? Possibly, but we didn’t, so we got there the way we got there. But we’re not finished. The presentation of the new entrance is not done yet.”
On the evolution of his character: “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. 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. Being human doesn’t mean you necessarily have to be a good guy. It also can mean that it is a villain, and you can better understand the motives of where the character comes from. You don’t have to agree with the motives to understand them, but the motive had got lost for Aleister Black on the main roster.
“The opportunities presented on Raw and SmackDown are this great chessboard. Aleister Black, he feels that he has never had the opportunity to do what he needs to do. If he doesn’t get those opportunities, he’s going to burn 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. That is a much more relatable antagonistic way of looking at things. 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.”
On the importance of understanding when it comes to mental health problems: “The biggest problem is that, for people who have mental health problems, there are no words, there is no care, and there are no things you can say to someone having an anxiety attack or on the edge of what they’re mentally capable of. If the world starts to understand that part, it would mean a great deal. Sometimes, for people who have mental health problems, just being there is enough. Being able to let them talk and hear their voice. Even if you don’t understand what that person is going through, the fact that you’re there might make all the difference. The same goes for me and my wife. My wife doesn’t always understand what I’m going through, but the fact she’ll be in the room with me, there with me, makes all the difference. Knowing that there are people who care for you and won’t try to undermine what you’re feeling or influence how you should be feeling, that is very meaningful.”
“I heard someone the other day say, ‘Hey man, you just can’t take your work home with you.’ I wish it were that easy. But it’s not. It’s because I have that hyper-sensitivity and that hyper-anxiety that I take everything home. For people to understand that, that is where the difference is being made. Not in the, ‘Come on man, you’re going to be fine.’ That doesn’t help. But what does is, ‘Hey, I might not understand what you’re going through, but I’m here–if you want me to go, if you want me to stay.’ We shouldn’t tell people how to feel. For people with mental health problems, it sometimes takes hours or days. It has to click in your own brain. The metaphorical hand on the shoulder is often enough to help people. The understanding is needed.”