Malakai Black posted a lengthy statement on his social media explaining why he told the crowd at Prestige Wrestling in California on Sept. 17 he was taking time off to “recalibrate”. It didn’t put a stop to rumor & speculation about his future, however. So Black went on Instagram Live early this morning (Sept. 27) to again address his status — something that’s apparently led to threats against his life.
“You know, there’s nothing I want to do less right now than going Live — especially in a time when I’m supposed to take care of myself, and take care of a lot of things in my private life. But some people can’t seem to just shut the fuck up and create things that are not there, so I have to go out here again and, well, have a conversation with you guys.
“Guys, how many times do I have to tell people... if you can’t even get the years of my contract right, which is a very minuscule detail, then how are people expecting that these guys know very intimate and private detail in regards to my private business? Our contracts are not five years. Our contracts have never been five years. Like again, this is all bullshit. It’s all lies.
“So I posted a statement, and even if you — and of course, all of you have read my statement — because even if you read my statement, it clearly reads that even ‘release’ is in quotations. Now, if you don’t know what quotations mean, it means that the author does not agree with said quotes or said word choice. Or, it also means that it’s not his wording. Then, it is followed by a bunch of multiple things in regards to my marital stuff, but it even says that stuff about my conditional release — that is false. So how are you guys still thinking, why are people still writing that I’ve got my release... like, why do you trust these people to tell you the truth? Because it’s not true.
“In a time where I’m supposed to take care of myself and kind of wind down, I have to deal with this kind of stupid bullshit from people who are not in the business pretending that they are in the business with all their sources. And you know the worst thing about it is, for the past three days, nothing but weird hateful comments, and today even two death threats. Death threats? Death threats? You wish death upon a person because of what someone else has said, and then say it’s confirmed? It’s not confirmed. Clearly it’s not confirmed. None of it’s confirmed. There’s no confirmation because I haven’t left.
“Luckily, and that’s what this whole thing’s about, I’ve been given time off by Tony to take care of a bunch of stuff. All this stuff has been cleared up like weeks ago. All this stuff was weeks ago. And I posted that statement as a summary for you to understand why I take some time off. Again, it’s in the statement! It is in the statement. It’s mind-boggling that — if this isn’t enough incentive for you guys to stop believing these people, then I don’t know what is. Because if you were part of this whole mob who... like I said, sending me a bunch of hateful comments based on the words of someone else? Then sorry but you’re dumb. You’re stupid.
“And of course, again, does anyone understand that in the time where I’m going through this stuff and I’m dealing with a bunch of stuff — in a very productive manner — that that exactly doesn’t help? What I hate about it is none of these dirt sheets will take responsibility, none of these guys will take accountability and say, ‘Oh shit, we fucked up, I’m sorry. We should have probably not said that. He’s going through some stuff. Maybe we should not make all these baseless assumptions,’ because again, as it turns out it’s not true. None of it’s true. Not one single thing of it is true...
“So again, if you were part of this mob that felt the need to even send me death threats... stop believing these things. It is unbelievable to me. Anyway, I will see you guys in a couple weeks, maybe a couple months. Like I said, I’m only taking some time off. That’s it. Just taking some time off. That’s it. There’s no conspiracy to this. Just taking some time off. Alright? I will see you guys soon. Take care of yourself, stop believing any other narrative. Now I’ve debunked it, there’s nothing going on. Don’t believe these people, yeah? I’m fine. I’m going to be fine. Everything is fine. You’ll see me right back with AEW pretty soon. I’m just gonna take some time. That’s it.
“And guys, last thing before I leave. Don’t make me some instrument for this whole tribalism, us vs. them thing, because I don’t do that stuff. I don’t do the whole ‘Team AEW vs. Team WWE’. I don’t play that.”
There’s a lot to unpack here, and overall it just sucks that it’s causing Malakai this much stress. Obviously the death threats are coming from folks who are either really malevolent trolls, unable to keep their fandom in perspective, or both. You could just tell Black to stay offline and out of the comments, but interacting with fans on the web is an integral part of how he & his wife Zelina Vega make money. They should be able to do that without being exposed to extreme levels of toxicity. Unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in.
Interacting with fans who do read reports and listen to talk about Black’s future makes it difficult to tune those reports out. But (predictably, I suppose, given my job) I disagree with Malakai’s assertion that everything being said is a lie, or that there’s no place for those reports in the business & community. He’s a performer on a nationally televised program, in a competitive field. Having the media report on his contract status or possible future career plans is part of the job. It’s par for the course for NBA players. Actors on popular shows like Grey’s Anatomy deal with it. Pro wrestlers have to, too.
Black’s “I’m telling you this, so believe it and stop entertaining any other possibilities” stance is also tough to take. For good and ill, pro wrestling is an industry built on misdirecting the audience. There are countless examples of wrestlers being vague or misleading fans as business tactic and storytelling device. It seems pretty unlikely Black is doing that here, but it’s difficult for fans and industry observers to turn off our our learned skepticism for one person.
(There’s also nothing that anyone in any field or endeavor can say in 2022 that everyone will accept without question, but that’s a much larger discussion.)
Even the “minuscule detail” Malakai refers to — the length of his contract — isn’t something the Dave Meltzers and Sean Ross Sapps of the world got wrong. It came from Tony Khan himself in one of the AEW owner’s regular Busted Open Radio appearances. Which just proves it’s hard to parse all the information that’s out there. Misinterpretations are going to occur even when everyone has the best intentions.
All that said, hopefully Black’s time off lets him deal with whatever private matters he needs to, and that he comes back to AEW for an amazing run. Anyone gossiping about those issues deserves whatever vitriol comes their way. And he’s absolutely right about the pointlessness of tribalism, especially those who take it to the point of death threats.
But it’s still not unreasonable to cover the business dealings of a public figure.