Malakai Black Says There Were Talks About Him Working For NJPW Before He Signed His NXT Contract

Working a show in Japan for NJPW remains a goal for Malakai Black.

Ahead of Sunday's AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door event, AEW star Malakai Black spoke with Denise Salcedo about his excitement for the PPV and how he grew up as a fan of NJPW. He also shared that before he signed his NXT contract in 2016, there was talks about him doing a tour with NJPW.

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"My goal in professional wrestling was always Japan and preferably New Japan. When I grew up I never watched WWF/WWE at the time because we didn't have access to it....... I grew up watching New Japan because we had a channel called EuroSport, and it had NJPW. That was my introduction to wrestling, as a whole, and what I grew up with and later on WCW. So New Japan always had a special place in my heart and it's also how my style somewhat got orientated... it's much more martial arts influenced so I started doing martial arts because of what I saw. Right before I moved there were talks between a company that I worked for that had a good working relationship with New Japan at the time and myself as to bringing me over for a tour or multiple tours, that was obviously the big question for New Japan and I had the contract for NXT on my table. I was like 'well even though New Japan is like the goal' at the time, NXT at the time would have been a 3 to 5 year contract, guaranteed money whereas NJPW, they run multiple tours but we don't know they might have kept me for one tour. So I went with the route we all know. I always felt that in the back of my mind, that I still wanted to do New Japan in any capacity. I've worked with them when they did the European tours back then. I did some work on them. But not on a scale like we're about to do on Sunday,where it's an actual collaborative event between two companies. So when Tony made this announcement, I was hoping that I was gonna be involved, when he did finally make the announcement, the rumor mill backstage kinda started coming up because we saw some of the New Japan officials walking around and we saw some of the wrestlers walking around. So we all knew something was brewing and when it was finally there, it's just cool. We live in such a unique era when it comes to wrestling, there is so much going on and everything has its place which I think is really really cool... It's very exciting," he said.

The House of Black leader would add that despite competing at Forbidden Door, his goal remains to perform on a NJPW show in Japan.

"After we've done this {Forbidden Door} one of my goals that I would have is indeed just to wrestle on a New Japan show in Japan," Black said.

As for his dream opponents in NJPW, Black says Hiroshi Tanahashi tops his list.

"But for me it's always been Tanahashi. I think him and me would mesh so well. I am purely basing that off what he presents as a competitor, how he flows, his footwork, his pacing, his timing and I understand that a lot and it's a bit of a vague explanation but the way he wrestles is something that really connects with me... in a different setting Shibata would be incredible, I would have really loved the opportunity to kind of tangle with Ishii this Sunday, but it is what is is and unfortunately he got injured. These things happen. In a singles setting or a Japanese setting, absolutely those three would be at the top of the bill. But then also a guy like Zack Sabre Jr, he and me have such tremendous history and it's been so long since him and me have tangled that now that platform in a different setting with the experience he has gained, with the experience I have gained, it would be such an interesting mix for him and me," Black said.

At Forbidden Door, Black will be competing in a four-way match to crown the first-ever AEW All-Atlantic Champion. NJPW's representative in the match was supposed to be Tomohiro Ishii, but he has been replaced by Clark Connors due to injury. Malakai commented on the switch, saying Clark has big shoes to fill.

"Clark, he comes from New Japan, he's a true representative of New Japan. He has big shoes to fill, because he's filling for Ishii. Which is no small feat, but then at the same time it can because of what New Japan carries and the grueling regiments that New Japan puts their students through and how they teach these younger kids to become wrestlers, you can't take that out of the equation too. So this man is a walking weapon. Yes, he's gonna come in there with the least amount of experience, least amount of name but also it means he has nothing to lose. In a certain way, he's one of the most hungry because now he's getting an opportunity.... Out of the 4 of us he's the least known, but also the least known to all of us.... he has that level of being unpredictable, so he's definitely not someone to be counted out....he has big shoes to fill but also out of everyone most of the pressure is on him. Guys like myself, Miro and Pac we've been in positions like this before, I would even say that I thrive in positions like this. I am best when I am under pressure," he said.

Fightful will have live coverage of AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door on Sunday, June 26, as well as a post-show review immediately following its conclusion. You can view the updated card for the event by clicking here.

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