After taking a face full of black mist from Sting at the end of the penultimate match of AEW’s All Out, Malakai Black was pinned cleanly in the corner of the ring by Darby Allen following his signature Coffin Drop.
On paper, this wasn’t a particularly unusual way to end the match. Sure, it would have made more sense for Miro to get involved in the match’s finish, or even to have the “Redeemer’s” unwillingness to tag in Allin earlier in the bout come back to haunt him, but as a general rule, the idea of the House losing this hand wasn’t too detrimental in the grand scheme of things.
What happened immediately after, however, was a certified eyebrow raise.
Though it wasn’t shown on the Pay-Per-View broadcast, Black blew a kiss to the fans after his performance was done, and hugged it out with his Housemates in a moment both shared on his Tumbler and captured by Wrestling Inc. in a photo that should soon go viral.
Malakai Black Hugs his teammates and says goodbye to the fans #AEWAllOut2022 #AEW pic.twitter.com/C4wl8zDdue
— WrestlingINC Web Commentary (@wrestlingsInc) September 5, 2022
Not quite leaving his boots in the center of the ring, but reminiscent of the infamous Curtain Call of 1996 WWF fame.
When asked about this moment, Khan shrugged the interaction off, claiming that, “I’m not sure, I can’t comment on that. That was for the live fans, and it definitely got some people talking, so it is a thing that happened, but no, I can’t comment on that.”
Folks, if you’re a fan of the House of Black and have loved everything Malakai, Brody King, and Buddy Matthews have been doing in AEW under the moniker, then you should soak up every last moment of All Out, as there’s a chance, a small-ish one but a chance nonetheless, that it’s the last you’ll see of the black mist spitting heel for quite some time.
Tony Khan can’t comment on the Malakai Black bow & hug after the match. pic.twitter.com/lPpt28Aecc
— ✨𝐖𝐡𝐨𝐥𝐞𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐊𝐚𝐦✨ (@TheKamDreesen) September 5, 2022
Tony Khan and Malakai Black have very different thoughts on his future in AEW.
On Wednesday, August 31st, 2022, Black posted the following note on his Tumblr page:
2 years of this. Sometimes it feels like all of it will be to no end, nor have any real meaning when it’s all over and done. It’s strange to think certain things in your life will be a memory with no attachments anymore while they were once the most important thing in your life.
It truly feels like the entire journey happened for the sake of happening.
Though the story doesn’t specifically call out AEW by name or suggest that Khan’s promotion has led to this existential feeling of dread, it does play into reporting from Sean Ross Sapp, Raj Giri, and others that Black has outright requested his release and would like to step away from the company to focus on his mental health. “I heard an AEW star requested their release, and follow-up sources indicate it was Malakai Black,” Giri tweeted on September 1st. “He reportedly has repeatedly shown concerns about his mental health due to personal life and demoralization due to the booking and handling of his character.”
Objectively speaking, that is not good; AEW has always postured itself as a company that is pro-wrestler-friendly and has allowed other performers to take some time away from the ring in order to focus on their mental health in the past. If Black wants to leave AEW because he thinks “Makalai Black” the character isn’t being booked strongly enough and that he would be better off back in WWE that would be one thing, but forcing a wrestler to continue to shoulder on despite it being detrimental to their mental health would be a different, much less justifiable thing indeed.
Either way, based on Khan’s comments in the past, as passed along by Liam Crowley of Comicbook.com, it doesn’t sound like the AEW CEO is willing to allow Black, or any of his former NXT/WWE performers out of their contracts, especially the ones who signed long-term commitments over the past year:
I’ve got people signed here for five years and people think that just because the CEO, Chairman, head of creative, those people changed in the competition, people I have five-year contracts with are going to magically switch teams? Good luck with that. Malakai Black has almost five years left on his deal. I wouldn’t expect him going anywhere anytime soon. Just because these guys had some success under a previous administration somewhere else, they’re not magically going to be going anywhere. Those are two people I like, just as examples of people who have worked under the previous administration.
How will this end? Will Black take an extended break away from the ring and recapture his love of professional wrestling? Or will All Out 2022 go down as the final time the House of Black and their titular leader graces AEW programming? Either way, only the future will hold the answer.
Sting with the mist on Malakai Black! Order #AEWAllOut LIVE on PPV on major providers, @BleacherReport, intl @FiteTV+@ppv_com pic.twitter.com/2Xoc6HLDbJ
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) September 5, 2022