WWE has something special on its hands with a Superstar as unique as Aleister Black.
But WWE has to recognize it and amplify it.
It sure doesn't seem like Vince McMahon and the powers behind the company seem intent on doing so, though—or even making much of an effort.
Black, previously untouchable in the ring and boasting one of the deadliest finishers in pro wrestling today, has been stuck in a mishmash of a feud with Buddy Murphy and also recently took a loss to Seth Rollins.
Normally, sticking around in a feud with Murphy and losing to Rollins wouldn't be the biggest ordeal. But according to Alex McCarthy of TalkSport (h/t Randall Ortman of Cageside Seats), McMahon himself thinks Black's character "will limit him." Sportskeeda's Tom Colohue (h/t Ortman) even noted McMahon sees some Cesaro in Black in this regard.
The idea a character can limit a star in WWE is complete nonsense, of course. WWE has no problems dipping into the mystical, with stars like the Undertaker and Bray Wyatt as the notable examples. One of the top groups of all time throws pancakes into the crowd. Example upon example throughout history exists, but it's clear the thinking is off-base if Black's name is coming up alongside Cesaro.
Black's character is an amazing one. He's got the deadly in-ring stuff going for him and his promo work carries a certain intensity to it most Superstars can't make believable. There's also a mystical element to his character that could easily make him the next Undertaker.
Speaking of Undertaker, even the deadman himself has made his character work in 2020. He's gone a little away from the mystical and leaned back more into his American Badass persona. But even a recent pre-taped match he worked featured him teleporting around and calling down lightning.
Maybe part of the reason it doesn't seem like Black's character could work is because WWE hasn't really tried. He's popped out of a casket for his match entrances before, but it's pretty clear he hasn't been able to fully work the dark arts things he has going for him.
Done well, it would be believable to see someone like Black hunting down Wyatt's The Fiend or challenging Undertaker. Done badly, he's stuck in tag-team matches concerning Rey Mysterio's kid.
That's why the recent losses hurt so much, too. Black was clearly one of the most protected assets in WWE as he dismantled opponents. A streak of sorts could've worked. At least acknowledging that Black finally lost a singles match and making it feel like a big deal would've helped. Instead, things just keep going the ho-hum route in the midcard, and Black's getting little room to develop.
Like most examples of failed main-event pushes, WWE hasn't put in the work. Braun Strowman is having a forgettable run as a top champ right now because the company so clearly missed pulling the trigger on him at the right spots in the past and hasn't spent any time developing his character.
There's main-event star potential with Black. He's unique with a character WWE could easily put to work in amazing ways, and his skillset as a striker means his matches, not just the promos and character work, would be must-see stuff for fans.
Instead, fans have their first hints of typical problematic WWE thinking. Which is a shame more than usual with Black, because as Taker's career comes to a close, there's a massive hole in the roster. Black has the ability to fill that void for a long time, but it takes company backing. If fans can see it and WWE can't, what can fans do?
Not much, unfortunately. But as with all things WWE, there is plenty of time for plans and direction to change. Black's talent and character work still has the potential to elevate him up the roster organically, but downswings like this and seemingly misguided long-term thought processes mean it's going to take longer than it has any right to for him to ascend.