Exclusive: Baron Black Opens Up About His AEW Status, If He’s Open To Other Opportunities, More

(Photo Credit: @ohsnapalliemac)

The current and first ever Battle Slam ICON World Champion Baron Black spoke with PWMania.com’s Lewis Carlan in a exclusive interview as a wide range of topics were discussed including AEW, Battle Slam, Terminus, Jonathan Gresham and much more.

Black has been featured on AEW programming for the past two years.

Below is the complete PWMania.com exclusive with Baron Black:

First and foremost, congratulations on becoming the first-ever Battle Slam ICON World Champion. How does it feel to be the first to hold that title?

“It feels great. It’s really significant because what Battle Slam is doing is really bridging the gap. Basically, between the worlds of the hip hop industry and the pro wrestling industry, two worlds that are very similar to each other, two worlds that I am very passionate about, two worlds that definitely kind of feed off each other, they kind of mimic each other and feed off each other. And two worlds that definitely work well together. And I think everybody has seen that now. They’ve definitely seen it in the past, back at WCW and the stuff that went on in early WWE, WWF.. And now, of course, AEW has also caught on to the wave. And you’ve seen a lot of hip-hop figures being on AEW programming and all to be working together well. So it’s definitely an honor to be almost like the face of what this new collaboration between these two most popular entities in the world looks like. Now it’s pro wrestling and the hip-hop industry”

What are your plans for defending ICON World Title? Will you be taking it to other promotions? Since it’s a World Title, do you plan on going to other countries? Maybe Canada and defend it?

“Canada that’s a very interesting place. I’ve never been to Canada number one. I’ve never wrestled in Canada since I’ve never been I would definitely like to wrestle in Canada. But with the Battle Slam ICON World Championship, and I said this after the show was over when I won the championship, this championship will be defended in multiple places, this championship will not only be defended at Battle Slam shows, this championship will be defended other places as well, at other notable promotions. So I laid it out there, if you really want a shot at the ICON World Championship, you know where to find me. Just holler at me and we’ll get it done. I’ll come to you, you come to me and don’t matter. Doesn’t matter if you’re on the West Coast, Midwest, East Coast, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, India, UK, it doesn’t matter to me.”

(Photo Credit: @ohsnapalliemac)

Battle Slam has a huge show coming up on October 30 in Atlanta and many big matches have been signed.

“Yes, Battle Slam first announced Battle Slam Thriller. Big shout out to the legendary late Michael Jackson. This is the 40th anniversary of one of the greatest albums ever Thriller. That’s the inspiration behind Battle Slam calling the October show Thriller obviously being Michael Jackson and obviously being Halloween. I do have an opponent. That will be revealed very soon.”  (Update: It has been revealed after this interview was conducted that “Speedball” Mike Bailey will be the challenger on October 30)

You have a lot of interesting matches set up and one match that I’m looking forward to in particular is KC Navarro against Kevin Knight. What can the fans expect in this one?

“They’re gonna expect them to probably beat the hell out of each other. If you haven’t noticed they have been going at each other’s necks on Twitter. They even got into an altercation in L.A. and I think that surfaced online on Twitter as well. I think this is going to be a really good matchup. Obviously, there’s some bad blood there we can see. And Kevin Knight, like he got done wrong by KC after winning a qualifying match to be into the tournament. KC then proceeded to beat him down after the match was over. So Kevin feels a certain way about that. Unfortunately, it really wouldn’t have mattered if KC beat his ass after he won anyway because he was going to face me and I was gonna get him anyway. Some people they handle the differences different ways and right now they are kind of setting Twitter on fire and going after each other’s necks right now. So this match is going to be kind of a show stealer to be honest.”

All the Battle Slam shows have been in Atlanta. Do you plan on taking Battle Slam to other cities? Maybe to New York, maybe out to the West Coast?

“Well, I guess I could give you an exclusive now. Battle Slam was always about pro wrestling and hip hop. But the secondary objective was to engage what I like to call the dormant fan base of pro wrestling fans in the Atlanta metro area. That’s what Terminus has done and Battle Slam has also done that by amplifying that and we were getting the fans out here mobilized, coming to shows, being enthusiastic and really engaging in pro wrestling once again, especially with different ethnic backgrounds and the black community and the Hispanic community. We really getting a lot of those people back engaged. And as you can tell, that we have done a good job at Terminus and especially at Battle Slam because we have a lot of promotions starting to come to Atlanta a lot more often now. You know what I mean? That’s not just a coincidence. So I’m very prideful that Terminus and Battle Slam has helped turn this back into a wrestling hot bed which used to be back in the day in NWA so I’m very happy about that. But Battle Slam has to travel at some point and I get this question so much. It will happen. I can’t tell you when and where but first time I have confirmed it will happen with Battle Slam. But you have to wait and see when that actually is going to happen.”

What’s the most difficult part about running a promotion?

“Definitely everything especially being an active pro wrestler in the middle of his career, in the prime of his career so it’s very difficult because you got to look at it from two different perspectives, it’s different when your wrestling on the show as a wrestler and then you’re putting on a show as a promoter. But everything is difficult to put it mildly because anything and everything that can go wrong will go wrong at some point. But I think as you’ve seen I’m obviously not the first wrestler to ever run a successful independent promotion. You’ve seen it done by multiple people before and I think those places sustain longevity because it’s actually ran by pro wrestlers because we know that business inside and out. We are able adjust an audible on the fly when trouble arises and you know exactly what we need to do. So that’s definitely been a thing I relied on a lot. And so far, so good. It’s been going great. Battle Slam started in April but considering how much exposure and how much coverage and how much crazy moments that happen you think Battle Slam has been going on for years, but it’s only been going on since April.”

When scouting talent for Battle Slam, what are the qualities you look for in a wrestler?

“There’s so much great talent out there. So one of the contributing factors is because Battle Slam really caters to two different audiences being a pro wrestling audience and a hip hop audience. So obviously, any wrestlers that are really influenced by hip hop or have hip hop as type, presentation or characters. That’s definitely people who I always see out for because they are natural fit, and both audiences gravitate to them pretty easily. One of the biggest, best examples of that was Lee Moriarty, the audience took to him immediately, I mean, even the non wrestling fans because at Battle Slam we get a lot of non wrestling fans, they’re straight hip hop fans. So we really have like a 50/50 split in our audience. So it really helps them get into it. You can see people really getting into it, and really, reinvigorating their love for pro wrestling that a lot of people come up to me after they see Battle Slam shows, and say, I used to watch wrestling, but now I’m gonna start watch wrestling again, since they came to a Battle Slam show. So it’s really great about that. But that’s one of the main contributing factors. Also, if you’re out there doing your thing, definitely at some point you’re probably going to be at Battle Slam. There’s really no strict criteria or anything like that. But I definitely look for people who are definitely into the hip hop scene or have hip hop as type of personality or persona to them. Or who are in the industry themselves. There are quite a few wrestlers that are like, in the hip hop scene themselves as well kind of like Chris Bey. But yeah, If you’re out there doing your thing is, you’re probably going to end up at Battle Slam at some point. I see a lot of great talent at AEW, when I’m working at AEW, too.”

Speaking of AEW, I wanted to ask you and I know it was a little over two months ago but how did it feel getting that first win over Brandon Cutler after 50 straight losses.

“Oh, it was a great feeling similar because I’d beat the worst losing streak in AEW, history. That’s number one. It was also a great feeling because it happened right here in my city  Atlanta, Georgia. And as you can judge by the reaction, from seeing the match, the city wanted it. I wanted it. Everybody wanted it. So it was a really good feeling. It’s something that I probably would never forget. It’s like in wrestling, it’s always about the moments. And that’s definitely one of those moments where I know for a fact that I’m not going to forget. And I know a lot of the fans are not gonna forget either.”

What’s your status with AEW at the moment?

“Oh, my status is still the same. It hasn’t changed.  People always come asking, when I’m gonna see you back on Dark. Hey, man, just relax. You know what I mean? Everybody has to take care of certain things that go around in their lives and stuff like that. But yeah, it’s still the same. I mean, I’ve been I’ve been working with them for over two years now. I’m one of the last remaining few from the pandemic era. We just had to film at six o’clock in morning. I don’t perceive me going anywhere. So you’ll definitely see me again. That’s the status right now, it’s all good.”

Are you under contract with AEW? 

“Oh, no, there is officially no contract with them. To a lot of people surprise because a lot of people kind of assume that, which I understand because I’ve been all over AEW Dark and Elevation for two years. Probably more than any other wrestlers to ever appear on AEW. No, there’s no official contract right now. Hopefully we’ll get to that point at some point but as of right now it’s not. We have a great working relationship, but there’s nothing on the paperwork.”

Are you open to other opportunities should they come along, such as WWE or New Japan Pro Wrestling?

“Yeah, I mean, why not? New Japan is a legendary company, who wouldn’t want to wrestle for New Japan. You’ve seen a lot of people, even from AEW, work New Japan. You know what I’m saying? So, as far as WWE, I think we all have grown up with WWE, we know about that place and if they had any interest, of course, I would be a fool not to engage in that. I mean, it’s obviously something I grew up on the Attitude Era in WCW and WWE. So yeah, of course. But I will say this, I would definitely listen, that’s for sure. I would definitely answer the phone. Oh, definitely. Definitely something that I would definitely like to do. But I have unfinished business at All Elite Wrestling. I can’t stop with just one win you know what I’m saying?”

Do you feel you deserved a push after taking 50 straight losses and getting that first win.

“I think saying the word deserves is a little bit conceded. Some people are comfortable saying they deserve this and that in wrestling, I like to use the word earned. That’s the word I like to use. I think I’ve earned some opportunities to come my way. I think I earned the first win I got, I mean, I earned that. For all the work I have done and put in for them, I was rewarded with that. So I think I earned it. I like earning better because it actually says I actually did some work to achieve something instead of saying deserve. I think I’ve earned, I wouldn’t say earned a push, but I think I’ve earned something. Some type of opportunity to really show my full set of skills.”

Many roster spots have just opened up at Impact Wrestling. Is that a destination on your radar?

Like I was saying, I’m never a guy that starts a task and then just steps away. When I’m almost at the end, I have to complete this. I have to complete this, that’s the main thing that’s really on my mind right now. I want the opportunity to complete this run I have in AEW. With Impact, I’ll never forget when I first discovered Impact it was discovering stars like AJ Styles and legendary Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe, my personal favorite Jay Lethal. So, of course suddenly there’s so much rich history there in Impact, so it’s definitely something that I would not say no to actually doing. But I am very keen on finishing this path.”

Are we going see another Terminus show in the future?

“Terminus will return at some point so don’t don’t be too down about it, let everything play out. In the meantime, you will definitely see Battle Slam shows, a whole lot of Battle Slam shows. You’ll definitely see more Modern Age Grappling shows. My boy Gresham he’s all for that. They just had a show recently. But Terminus is going to continue to burn on.”

Are there plans to bring Jonathan Gresham into Battle Slam?

“Whenever he’s ready. That’s definitely something.”

Last question. And then we’ll wrap it up.  Right now the end of 2022 is coming up. What are your goals for 2023?

“Goals. Definitely to have one of the best title defense runs in wrestling. That’s a goal. And another goal is it’s about that time for me to have a contract.  But that is a goal to have one of the best title defense runs in wrestling, defending the Icon World Championship and to finally be able to be signed to my shockingly very first pro wrestling contract.”