AEW’s Malakai Black Talks Mental Health + WWE vs. AEW While Getting Tattooed by Paul Booth
AEW wrestler Malakai Black (fka Aleister Black) has returned to Paul Booth’s tattoo chair. While completing a demonic menagerie on his stomach, Black spoke to Booth about mental health, the differences between working at WWE vs. AEW and much more.
Much has changed since Black first visited Paul Booth’s tattoo studio in 2019. In a move that flabbergasted fans of pro wrestling, Black was cut from WWE midway through his intriguing "Dark Father" storyline. Not long after, Malakai Black appeared in AEW, getting a huge pop from the crowd as he attacked Arn Anderson and Cody Rhodes. Black has since formed the darkest faction in wrestling today — House of Black.
“Do I have more fulfillment now than I’ve had in a long time? Absolutely,” Black explains. “Do I feel better than [I have] in a while? Yeah, absolutely. But everything comes with its challenges.”
Black continues, “[AEW] is a very different product than what WWE is doing. I think AEW is very dynamic — a lot of younger talent being shown, a lot more athleticism-based wrestling. If you like the shock and awe and a lot more exciting, dynamic action, that’s definitely highly presented in AEW. Very colorful characters and a lot of people that have had their comeuppance in the independent scene that are now being presented on a much larger platform, getting their due diligence.”
As for Black’s tattoo, Malakai and Paul brainstormed together to envision the final product. A collection of demonic heads swirling around a central figure represents the struggle of mental health both Black and Booth recognize in their own lives.
“I’ve always been reasonably outspoken about my mental health problems. One of the things that I have is diagnosed depression.” Black shares. “Me and Paul have had a lot of conversations about mental health things. I said, ‘If I were to give you the idea of purgatory being a mental state, what would it look like?’ So Paul drew this individual in purgatory being haunted by these demons.”
Check out the full tattoo session with Malakai Black and Paul Booth in the video below. You can catch AEW Dynamite Wednesday nights on TBS and AEW Rampage Friday nights on TNT.