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Malakai Black discusses AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door, All-Atlantic title match

The leader of the House of Black talked to Denise Salcedo about Sunday's PPV.

Ahead of his opportunity to win the inaugural AEW All-Atlantic title at Sunday's Forbidden Door pay-per-view, I talked to Malakai Black about the event, future NJPW goals, and the match itself.

You can watch the full interview on YouTube above.

His initial reaction to the Forbidden Door announcement

"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. Later on, it was 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 (to the US), 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 the goal at the time, NXT at the time would have been a three-to-five year contract and guaranteed money whereas (with) NJPW, they run multiple tours but we don't know (if) they might have kept me for [more than] 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 worked with them when they did the European tours back then, 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 (Khan) made this announcement, I was hoping that I was gonna be involved. 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."

"For me, it's always been Tanahashi."

Black said that due to his NJPW fandom growing up, one of his current goals after Forbidden Door is to wrestle for the promotion on their turf in Japan.

Known for incorporating his kickboxing skills into his wrestling, I asked him who are some of the NJPW talents that he feels he can make some in-ring magic with.

"For me, it's always been (Hiroshi) Tanahashi. I think he and I 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 it 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 I have such a tremendous history and it's been so long since him and I have tangled.”

All-Atlantic Championship match changes

Black talked about Clark Connors replacing Ishii due to injury in Sunday's four-way title match.

"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. At the same time, it can be 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, the least amount of name value, 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 four 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."