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Welcome once again to the NXT TRACKER, where I pick an NXT talent, assess their progression to this point and make bold, sure-to-look-hilarious-in-retrospect predictions about their future prospects. Today I’ll cover the silent killer Aleister Black.
Black, 32, debuted in 2002 and has spent the bulk of his career working in the UK. For most of his career, he worked under the name Tommy End, including against Neville in a bonus match on the second night of the United Kingdom tournament, which Black lost. He then left television for a couple of months before hype for his return began, now under the new name. Black didn’t say a lot, which has continued to be a large part of his mystique as he continues to gain momentum in NXT.
Signature Wins in NXT
Black’s first match on NXT was at TakeOver: Orlando the night before Wrestlemania, where he defeated Andrade “Cien” Almas. On June 21, he defeated Kassius Ohno – one of the men who trained him – in a match I was somewhat surprised to see used on the weekly show at the time, although since then, Ohno has continued to tread water in NXT with no real story. Black beat a debuting Kyle O’Reilly in early August in a great TV match leading to another victory over Hideo Itami in what may have been the best NXT match for both at TakeOver: Brooklyn III. Black has yet to lose in NXT.
It would be tough to script a cooler entrance than Black’s. Black rises from the dead and calmly walks to the ring as the audience eats it up every time. Not every entrance translates to the main roster, but I think this one will. In the ring, Black is a mean striker who has a preternatural ability to create perfect pacing, and uses the cross-legged seated taunt perfectly. Tommy End was cool, but Aleister Black is even cooler. The main roster puts monster money into guys, attempting to promote them as half this cool, and hopefully they see that Black is the kind of guy who doesn’t need to pretend.
Black is one of NXT’s great booking success stories. He talks just the right amount, the heels freak out at his taunts like they should, and he stays in the shadows so he isn’t exposed as just another guy. If I have any gripe with his presentation, it’s that for too long, Nigel McGuinness was saying things like “Tommy End was intense, but Aleister Black…something has changed in him.” Great, but if you really want to get over the threat of Aleister Black, just promote him as someone with no history before this, so we don’t draw too much attention to the fact that at one point, he was trading wins and losses on the independent circuit. Black is playing a character, and fans are willing to go along for the ride. Just talk about Aleister Black.
The Future and Predictions
I really don’t think Black should overstay his welcome in NXT. I don’t think he should put someone over on his way out. The next generation of NXT characters and storylines is set, and will be fine without him. I’d like to see Black on the main roster before long in a surprise debut. Timing will be everything; there seems to be a little more room to grow for a babyface on SmackDown Live at the moment, but with Bobby Roode probably set to receive a big push in a face roll there, it might be tough to garner the same attention. Raw is stacked, and Black would be in danger of being lost in the shuffle. So, though I think Black is ready to move on, the main roster might not actually be ready for him. Let him win a match or so a month to keep him hot, and maybe debut him after Wrestlemania with the usual crop of five to seven guys.
It should be obvious that I’m bullish on Black’s chances. I think the main roster has an opportunity to capture the audience with a character who has the same calm, dark intensity of someone like The Undertaker. I know nobody’s likely to fill those particular boots, but I hope they’re making the same comparisons, and that Black is on the main roster laying waste to some poor midcard heels soon.
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS COLUMN: NXT TRACKER – KILLIAN DAIN: Assessing and predicting the prospects of an NXT wrestler’s main roster future