Tony Khan has spoken about the character of Malakai Black and how he wants to allow the audience to “react organically” to him.
Black made an impact when he debuted in AEW at Road Rager on July 7th, laying out both Cody Rhodes and Arn Anderson with his Black Mass spin kick. A few weeks later, he had his first match with the company against Cody which saw him kick the former TNT Champion off the top rope into the timekeeper’s table, and finish him off with the Black Mass when he made it back to the ring. Black then put his foot on Rhodes’ chest for the three-count. Following the bout, it looked as if Cody was on the verge of announcing his retirement when Black came back to the ring and laid him out with a crutch.
Speaking on Wrestling Observer Radio, Tony Khan has explained that while, as demonstrated by his actions, Black has been positioned as a heel, he wants the audience to react organically to the character that’s been presented and not tell them what to think.
“Well, I have the idea to kind of establish him as a heel, react how you want to him but this is a bad guy, when he showed up and hit Arn Anderson, who is a defenceless old legend, and it also set him off in this match with Cody. Then for him to decisively beat Cody shows what a threat he is. But I want people to react to people organically, and I’m not going to try and tell somebody what they should think, or force somebody to go against the grain.
“Malikai Black is positioned as a threat, and I want people to react organically to that. We don’t really try to force reactions one way or another, which I think is a cool thing about the company.”
While he is a heel onscreen, Malakai Black also showed his more positive side when he heaped praise on Tony Khan during a recent Twitch stream, saying he is “A f****** wonderful dude.”