Justin Gabriel made the best decision of his life over the 2015 Royal Rumble weekend. He asked for and was granted a release from his WWE contract and it was a blessing in disguise for Gabriel. Why, you may ask? Justin Gabriel who is now going by the name PJ Black is one hell of a talented in ring performer. He’s one of the few guys on the main roster that while being held down still showed sparks of brilliance when they placed him in matches that people could actually see.
You can say that I’m super excited to see what PJ Black does. I hope he hits the ground running like many others have when they got their freedom. I hope he improves like many others that have left WWE and become better performers by having the chance to perform without restrictions. I want to see him make a splash and prove all the naysayers wrong. So far, he has. By Monday he was booked for PWS and by Tuesday/Wednesday it was announced that he was going to Evolve’s Wrestlemania weekend shows.
Just because WWE didn’t use him right doesn’t mean that he’s not talented. Wrestling fans have a bad habit of judging guys by how WWE books and presents them as opposed to judging them on what they can actually do. Drew Galloway is the perfect example of this and has hit the ground running since leaving WWE. He has taken ICW to the next level and has turned the Evolve title into a world title while proving that he is a main event level performer. Look at Trent Barreta who has kept a steady amount of work since being released and has become a star in PWG and Evolve and has gained all sorts of acclaim. Look at Del Rio who was fired, publicly shamed on Twitter but is now bringing a huge amount of exposure to ROH/Lucha Underground. He is one of the top stars in AAA in Mexico and has no trouble in telling people that he makes more money now than he did in WWE. Look at Lance Archer and Davey Boy Smith Jr who have become one of the top foreign tag teams in NJPW and have made people wonder how WWE never saw anything in them. Doc Gallows has been reborn as part of The Bullet Club. Look at Evan Bourne who now goes by Matt Sydal (again) and how well he’s doing. The list goes on and on as their is well and truly life after WWE. There’s many examples of guys who have flourished after WWE let them go and I know that PJ Black will be one of them.
Do I sound like a personal cheerleader? I should. I saw Gabriel/Black back in August at NXT where he helped tear the roof down in one of the best 4 way matches I’ve ever seen. I remember leaving that day wondering what the heck was wrong with WWE & not using this guy properly. In a match that included Sami Zayn, Adrian Neville, & Tyler Breeze, Gabriel was not left out in the cold. He held his own and even showed the others up a few times. They could’ve kept him NXT for all I cared and have restarted him the way Kidd has. Even recently he had a series of incredible matches on Superstars with Sin Cara and Kofi Kingston, but he had been in a constant holding pattern and most of the time neither him or the audience knew if he was a babyface or a heel. But now he’s on to better things.
Evolve was my first choice of where I wanted to see Black (because I’m selfish & Evolve runs through Florida pretty consistently) but since that’s already booked in Cali, I’m gunning for a PWG appearance. Particularly, at BOLA. I’d also like to see him head over to NJPW and take part in June’s Best of the Super Juniors. He is already booked for PCW in the UK and could spend more time there as he did before signing with WWE. Lets be honest, I want to see this guy everywhere and making a name for himself.
The point to this is that I’m excited to see what he does next because I know anyone that was doubting him will be rethinking things.