Malakai Black Talks AEW Debut; Daniel Bryan-WWE Update; Heyman Leaves Talking Smack

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 9, 2021

Photo credit: WWE.com

Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from the WWE Universe.

Black Discusses AEW Debut Details

Just one month after his WWE release, Aleister Black made his All Elite Wrestling debut on Wednesday's episode of Dynamite under the name Malakai Black.

Black interrupted a promo segment with Arn Anderson by hitting him with Black Mass and then took out Cody Rhodes with Black Mass as well when Rhodes attempted to intervene.

Appearing Thursday on the Twitch stream of his wife and WWE Superstar Zelina Vega (h/t WrestlingInc.com's Marc Middleton), Black provided some details regarding how his AEW debut went down.

With regard to keeping it a secret, Black said:

"Once I found out that my contract was a tad different than the usual, I just came up with this idea. We made it a thing to make it available to as limited people as possible because that's how you keep it under wraps. Security, Cody Rhodes, and a few others. It may have been five or six total people.

"It was all very last second. I feel like, in modern day wrestling, there are few moments to make a genuine surprise and get people to look your way. For me to sneak in, not be seen, dip and dive so they wouldn't see me, that took some skill."

Black mentioned that his WWE contract is different than most, which explains why he was able to appear on AEW programming so soon after his WWE release.

Typically, wrestlers have 90-day non-compete clauses after getting released from WWE, but Black's was only for 30 days.

Mike Johnson of PWInsider reported this week that a clerical error on WWE's part resulted in Black's 30-day clause never getting converted to 90 days when he got called up from NXT to the main roster, which is why the move to AEW was able to come together so quickly.

Furthermore, Black explained why he decided to go to AEW and how it felt to make his debut:

"It was the right move for me to make for me, my family, my career, the state of mind I'm in. It's just a really good company. I can't say enough good things about it. They have a bright future. Last night was top three one of my favorite moments of my career. … It was the accumulation of months and months and months and having this big payoff was worth the pain, chaos, and perseverance."

Black's WWE career ended in abrupt and disappointing fashion, as he was released just after returning to television and starting a rivalry with Big E, but now he has a chance to potentially establish himself as a top star in AEW.

Meaning Behind Bryan Mentions on WWE Programming

The recent mentions of Daniel Bryan on WWE programming reportedly have nothing to do with his status with the company.

According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Middleton), the mentions have simply been done as a means of advancing the storyline involving Universal champion Roman Reigns and Edge, and they are not an indication that Bryan is returning.

The main event of WrestleMania 37 was originally supposed to be Edge vs. Reigns after Edge won the 2021 men's Royal Rumble match, but Bryan got involved in the angle and was ultimately added to make it a Triple Threat.

Reigns won that match and then beat Bryan on the April 30 edition of SmackDown with the stipulation that Bryan would have to leave WWE in the event of a loss.

Bryan has not been seen on WWE programming since then, and it was subsequently reported by Fightful Select (h/t Middleton) that Bryan's WWE contract had expired.

The 40-year-old veteran is technically free to sign anywhere, but it isn't known if he intends to return to WWE or sign elsewhere, such as AEW or New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

Bryan has been one of the biggest stars in pro wrestling over the past decade with five WWE world title reigns to his credit, and signing him would undoubtedly be a huge coup for any company.

A return to WWE seemingly isn't out of the question, but mentioning his name reportedly has no bearing on whether it will happen.

Heyman Permanently Removed from Talking Smack

After about eight months as the co-host of Talking Smack with Kayla Braxton, Paul Heyman is reportedly gone from the show.

According to Meltzer (h/t Middleton), Heyman's recent absences from Talking Smack are because he is permanently done with that role.

SmackDown commentator and former NFL All-Pro punter Pat McAfee has hosted Talking Smack alongside Braxton for the past couple of weeks, and it appears as though WWE will move forward with that pairing.

Per Meltzer, no specific reason was given for the change other than it being a "company decision."

Heyman thrived in the role and helped create plenty of memorable moments on Talking Smack, but stepping away will allow him to put even more time and energy into his partnership with Reigns.

The longtime manager remains a key part of SmackDown, and his removal from Talking Smack doesn't figure to change that fact.

If McAfee is the permanent replacement, he is a quality choice given his energy level and ability to thrive in that type of environment.

McAfee has brought a great deal of excitement to SmackDown, and he figures to do the same for Talking Smack moving forward.

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