The modern pro wrestling entrance might have just eaten itself.
When it isn't overblown, it is badly over-rehearsed and uniform. In WWE, the wrestler enters the ring every time with the same identical movements. It's not a trusty crowdpleaser of a routine - Hulk Hogan was never going to abandon his ear-cup routine, because that would have been a really stupid idea - but rather a practise that has been drilled into these worker bees in order for everything to look pretty for the camera. As with so much else in that company, the typical entrance is so bland and lifeless. The thrill of interactive performance art has been deadened, slain by Vince McMahon's weird pursuit of total control.
When it isn't generic, it's over-thought. Look at Karrion Kross. Before it was stripped-back, his NXT entrance bordered on panto. Scarlett Bordeaux looked ridiculous lip-syncing and Kross' manufactured intensity felt much too try-hard.
Misjudge one tiny, important detail, and it resonates as farce. Aleister Black's WWE main roster entrance saw the occultist descend to the nadir of Hammer Horror. The creaking sound effect added to his wooden board laughably undermined the idea that he had emerged from the void, which is significantly scarier than a haunted house.
Malakai Black's entrance, however...
10. Malakai Black Owns The Darkness
On last week's AEW Dynamite, Malakai Black appeared to materialise from some unknowable void in an instantly iconic superstar entrance layered in its brilliance.
He entered through three phases of pitch blackness to convey the broad darkness at his character's core, but this doubled as a neat metaphorical touch. In his awesome squash match win against Cody Rhodes, he exerted total dominance over his opponent. He doesn't control lighting systems or anything so hokey; this was a theatrical illustration of his violent in-ring mastery. The number three is also relevant. He was Tommy End, and then Aleister Black - a character he has retconned to make sense of its failure - before transforming into Malakai. This entrance might represent his metamorphosis.
In an astonishing move, the sludgy, agonised post-metal of Amenra soundtracked him to the ring. On TNT. This was wild, but it wasn't just used because it is a band of which Black is fond. The title of the song, as illuminated by Metal Injection, shares a parallel with his character. 'Ogentroost' is the parasitic eyebright plant used to treat eye infections. In WWE, Aleister's eye was damaged. It is now infected. AEW cares more about WWE continuity than WWE (!)
This decision captures Black's literally poisoned outlook; the character is loosely based on Lucifer, who Black believed vowed to punish God and man for his banishment from heaven. He also tempted Cody "into destruction", in this case retirement, for his "sinful" quest for self-validation. Black, the sin-eater, was disgusted by Cody's excessive pride that puts his wants ahead of his Nightmare Family trainees.
Malakai Black thinks very deeply about what he is doing. The infamous Twitch stream drew scorn in some quarters for that precise reason, but his presentation in AEW has, fittingly, acted as punishment extended towards those who mocked him.