Malakai Black and Andrade El Idolo Forge New Paths to Greatness in AEW

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistJuly 8, 2021

Credit: All Elite Wrestling

Malakai Black exploded on to the scene in All Elite Wrestling with a swift kick to the head of Arn Anderson and then Cody Rhodes just 30 days after his shocking release from his former employer, WWE. Andrade El Idolo bet on himself and arrived in the company ready to erase the disappointment of the past year and look to the future.

Two stars seemingly destined for glory under the WWE umbrella, only to have their legs cut out from underneath them by poor booking and a lack of creative direction, have arrived in AEW with the opportunity to forge new paths to greatness.

All while proving to the doubters and themselves that they are capable of more than they had the opportunity to be elsewhere.


Similar Journeys to AEW

Both Black and El Idolo arrived on the U.S. scene as part of WWE's developmental territory, NXT, after making names for themselves internationally. From there, they overcame uneven introductions to the audience and became world champions on that brand.

They did so while having extraordinary matches against top stars, setting themselves up for stardom at the next level. But nothing came of it. They arrived on the main roster to great fan fervor but stumbled creatively, with neither becoming an instant hit.

Both were inconsistently utilized, didn't advance past the midcard and took unwanted and unnecessary hiatuses from the squared circle while creative tried to come up with something for them. In Black's case, twice.

In hindsight, WWE's inability to use them to their potential immediately should have been cause for concern, especially coming off their NXT title reigns. 

Andrade is a generational worker (WWE loves those) who had a knack for working with any wrestler of any style and background to deliver a phenomenal match. Look no further than his instant classic against Johnny Gargano in Philadelphia in 2018 for proof. 

Black, as talented as he was in the ring, had an aura about him that drew comparisons to the likes of Undertaker and Kane.

His ability to capture the attention of the audience before setting foot inside the squared circle, in an era wherein everyone is one-dimensional and hopes to get over based on their ability to flip around the ring or throw six variations of a knee strike, should have been invaluable to the company.

It wasn't and, inexplicably, neither were the talented individuals themselves.

After years of frustration and disappointment, El Idolo requested his release in March and was granted it in April. Black was let go as part of massive roster cuts in June despite reappearing on television just two weeks earlier and starting a feud with Big E.

A clerical error by WWE, which failed to convert his no-compete clause from 30 to 90 days when he made the jump from NXT in 2019, allowed Black to appear on Dynamite as quickly as he did, per Mike Johnson of PWInsider.com.

Done a disservice and cast aside by the biggest company in the industry, the former NXT champions arrive in AEW with a rare opportunity to both recreate themselves and achieve the greatness on a grand stage they were denied previously.


Not the Future but the Here and Now

No longer considered "the future" of anything, Black and El Idolo arrive in AEW looking to make an immediate impact and establish themselves as top stars.

Andrade arrived on the June 4 episode of Dynamite and was presented as a bigger star than he ever was in McMahonland. He was treated as a major acquisition for a company looking to collect the best wrestlers in the world rather than an NXT call-up who was immediately forgotten.

Black made an even bigger splash, shocking the wrestling world by debuting unadvertised Wednesday night at Road Rager and laying waste to Rhodes and the legendary Anderson.

All Elite Wrestling @AEW

HOLY S**T ... Malakai Black ( @TommyEnd) has arrived in @AEW! Tune into #AEWDynamite NOW on @tntdrama https://t.co/CgU959OPkI

AEW has already done more to create the impression that these two word-class professional wrestlers are big deals than WWE did over the course of three years. Now, both El Idolo and Black are set up to thrive in a company tailor-made for wrestlers like them.

They are creative and, more importantly, work for a boss in Tony Khan who allows them to explore their creativity. They can also back any storyline and/or gimmick up once the bell rings, something key to success in their new place of employment.

With an immensely talented crop of wrestlers to ply their craft with, including Rhodes, Kenny Omega, Hangman Page, Jon Moxley, The Young Bucks, Darby Allin, Pac and The Lucha Bros, the future is as bright for Black and El Idolo as it ever has been.

Now it is up to them to silence the critics, make their former bosses envious, focus on their goals and forge their paths to greatness.


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