A possible industry shifting jump may soon be on the horizon as a pillar of AEW may soon become a WWE Superstar in 2024.
January 1, 2024, is now a date marked on every wrestling’s fan calendar, because it is the date when the hottest free agent will potentially hit the open market. It is a date that wrestling fans and WWE fans are very excited about as they are already fantasy booking who he could feud with in the ring and on the mic. For AEW fans, they are very much dreading the possibility that one of the so called Four Pillars of AEW could do what his mentor and AEW co-founder did and jump to WWE or as they like to view it the Evil Empire. There are of course those that are in denial that there is no possible way that MJF would ever jump to WWE, despite the man himself openly saying that he would.
Now, it is true that a lot could happen between now and January 1, 2024, to ensure MJF is happy and doesn’t jump, but as will be talked about below our many years of following the wrestling business both in the ring and outside it, leads us to believe, as of right now it is probably more likely than not that MJF will be leaving AEW and going to the WWE.
This opinion piece will be broken up into four sections:
- MJF – the talent
- Why He Would Jump
- How He Would & Should Be Booked Upon His WWE Arrival
- The Loss To AEW
1) MJF – The Talent
The term once in a generation talent or prodigy is thrown around a lot in wrestling, but there is no doubt that both of these terms apply to MJF. After watching professional wrestling for as long as we have you can tell almost instinctively upon seeing a talent if they have that so-called IT Factor.
Despite his very young age and only being in the business 7 years up to this point, he is far superior on the mic than any of his peers from not only his generation of talent, but he’s better than some veterans that have been doing this for decades.
There is a confidence level that MJF portrays that you just cannot teach, he says constantly that he is better than his opponents and they know it. That isn’t just a fancy catchphrase for him, he truly believes it and for most of his career it has been true up to this point.
There is no surprise that MJF is far superior on the mic, because he is very much a student of the game and has modeled himself after some of the greatest mic talkers in the history of the business.
Via For The Love of Wrestling, MJF named his all-time dream opponent, “Roddy Piper is the only person that could go toe-to-toe with me”. MJF’s biggest influence of his career is unquestionably, the legendary WWE Hall Of Famer, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.
MJF knew he wanted to be a heel, but not just any heel, he wanted to be legendary, he wanted to leave his mark as one of, if not the greatest heel of all-time. So, it was no surprise that he turned to arguably one of the greatest heels of all time and the king of the mic, Roddy Piper.
Piper was able to generate heat like no other performer in the history of the business. He could destroy any opponent that he wanted to on the mic, which made him the most dangerous man on the mic no matter what territory Piper was in.
Just a little history lesson here for those that don’t know, the reason Piper started wearing his trademark leather jacket was because he generated so much heat from fans all over the country that he was stabbed by angry fans on three separate occasions. So, he started wearing the leather jacket to protect himself, which unknown to the fans he had secretly lined with Kevlar to protect from future stabbings.
No one will ever be equal to Piper’s ability to generate nuclear heat like him, mainly because he did it during a different time period without political correctness and before TV networks and sponsors would step in and complain to the promotions because they were getting backlash from the viewers.
There have been a lot of talents over the years that tried to be like Roddy as a heel on the mic, but none of them were able to come anywhere near him. However, MJF is the closest one that has ever come to mimicking the level of heel heat on the mic when compared to Roddy.
When asked about who was more responsible for WrestleMania 1’s success Vince or Hogan, Piper would always claim that Wrestlemania 1 was a success because people paid to see him get his ass kicked more than paying to see Hulk Hogan. This claim from Piper is literally the embodiment that MJF has followed his whole career; he has the ability like Roddy to get under the crowd’s skin so bad that they are willing to buy a ticket or a PPV to see him get beat up.
Trained by Brian Myers and Pat Buck at the Create-A-Pro wrestling school, MJF made his wrestling debut in February 2015 at only the age of 20. He would work his way through the independent circuit like all young rookies trying to make it to the big time in the business, but unlike his peers doing huge dives or crazy moves in hopes to get noticed, MJF knew the safest way for his long term career wasn’t to take an insane dive in a gym or parking lot in front of 50 fans, but instead to run his mouth on the mic. He became the guy the audience would love to hate with a fiery passion.
His independent career started off successfully, he won multiple tag team championships along with singles championships, including the AAW Heritage Championship, CZW Wired and CZW World championship as well as being the inaugural MLW World Middleweight champion, and an MLW World Tag Team champion with his partner and fellow member of the Dynasty, Richard Holliday. The Dynasty is a stable that MJF would lead in MLW along with Richard Holliday and Alexander Hammerstone having one of MLW’s main rivalries against The (New Era) Hart Foundation (Teddy Hart, Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Brian Pillman Jr.).
MJF was also a part of what could be considered one of the key events that showed AEW could be possible in All In. Not only was he a part of this show, he was in the Pay Per View’s opening contest facing Matt Cross. Aside from being one of the original All In wrestlers, it is hard to say when exactly he became a “Cody Rhodes Guy ”, but he was one of original names to be announced as a signed wrestler on the Double Or Nothing 2019 Livestream that took place on Youtube.
At the time he was the only performer in AEW with two separate TV contracts, being signed to MLW and AEW at the same time. How did that happen? MLW contracts had restrictions to keep talent from appearing for WWE, ROH, and Impact since they had TV at the time when MJF’s contract was signed. So, since AEW didn’t even exist at the time of its signing there was no restriction for him to appear for AEW. This was a loophole that allowed him to sign with AEW as well.
Since his arrival in AEW, he has set himself apart just as he did on the independent circuit, while many talents are taking insane and dangerous bumps risking their lives, MJF is creating memorable moments on the mic.
MJF is a very smart man for such a young age and only being in the business for 7 years, he knows the dangerous spots may pop the crowd, but he knows they will also shorten the talents career and because so many talents do the high spots they are easily forgotten over time and replaced with some other crazier high spot.
To put it simply MJF is playing the long game seeing the bigger picture and end goal in mind to become a legend on the mic, while many of his peers are just looking for the holy s**t moment of the night.
Like Piper, MJF rarely loses and the reason for that is to protect his heat. Piper would only lose if it makes sense for the story and it protects his heat. MJF essentially treats it very much the same way. MJF knows the more he wins, the madder the audience gets and the more they want to see someone beat him.
The MJF betrayal of his real life best friend and mentor, Cody Rhodes, was really the first time during his AEW run that he was placed in a storyline that meant something. Yes, the heel turn could have been seen a mile away and honestly, it made zero sense that MJF was a heel in AEW in every other segment except when he was with Cody, we as the audience were supposed to believe he was Cody’s friend and a babyface.
Once betrayed, Cody wanted to obviously get his hands on MJF for revenge. However, MJF would only agree to face him if Cody went through challenges of other opponents and agreed to take a whipping of 10-lashes from MJF.
From a believability standpoint this made no sense, why MJF had the ability to refuse to wrestle someone and be able to essentially have the creative control that neither Cody an EVP nor Tony Khan the owner/booker, couldn’t step in and book him in the match. Was it some special privilege of being the AEW Dynamite Diamond Ring holder? We still don’t know as it was never explained.
Regardless, Cody and MJF were very close friends behind the scenes and Cody was a mentor to MJF, which may play a role in 2024, which will be discussed later on. Cody was already an established name in the business and knew putting MJF over at AEW Revolution 2020, was the right move for MJF’s career and was happy to do the favors of losing to put his friend and protégé over.
They went to war in a brutal match that told a great story leading up to the match and proceeded to deliver a great story in the ring.
However, this was not the launching point that either MJF or Cody, envisioned for MJF as he would wrestle in matches and picking up wins including against fellow “pillar” of AEW, Jungle Boy, and challenge for the AEW World title at AEW All Out 2020, but would come up short against Jon Moxley.
What was next for MJF was a convoluted storyline with him and the legendary Chris Jericho. It was a bizarre feud that included MJF and Jericho doing a completely ridiculous segment where they sang, “Me and My Shadow” and even included a town hall debate between the two moderated by Eric Bischoff.
This was a segment that hurt MJF’s momentum as a Piper like heel and did absolutely nothing for him career wise. This would lead to MJF facing Jericho to be allowed to join Jericho’s Inner Circle stable. MJF would pick up the win and it would lead to more ridiculous segments that would have been buried if WWE did these segments as they were the definition of cheesy “sports entertainment”.
This partnership included MJF and Chris Jericho becoming the official tag team to represent The Inner Circle as well as earning a championship match against the Young Bucks at AEW Revolution 2021. The partnership lasted until the month of March 2021, before MJF would finally turn on Jericho, who was convinced MJF was trying to steal the Inner Circle from him, but in fact was forming his own stable, “The Pinnacle” to destroy the Inner Circle.
This war between the factions was fixing some of the damage of the ridiculous segments MJF was being a part of for months ultimately leading to AEW’s Blood & Guts match, their version of War Games.
This match as a whole should have been placed on PPV or at a minimum should have been shown commercial free as many spots in the match were missed during the commercial breaks and the announcers had to scramble to explain why someone was suddenly in the ring or how a wrestler was suddenly busted open.
The finish was also heavily criticized as the stunt came off cheesy and fake looking despite it supposed to be looking serious and dangerous. A spot like this is supposed to be done as safely as possible for Jericho, but at the same time the fake stage and crash pad isn’t supposed to be so evident, a crucial production error that was made by AEW.
This match wouldn’t be the blow off of the feud either as this would also see them fight in a Stadium Stampede match and just like Cody, in order for Jericho to face MJF he had to go through hurdles. Called the Labors of Jericho, where Jericho would have to defeat people of MJF choosing just to face MJF.
So, for the second time in a year, MJF was somehow, given this unexplained ability to book matches. Jericho would ultimately pick up the win at AEW All Out 2021 in a predictable fashion because of Chris Jericho putting his career on the line.
Should MJF have picked up the win in the feud? Personally, we believe he should have as the win over Jericho would mean much more for MJF’s career than Jericho’s career.
It would take a few months for MJF’s career to get back on the right path, but the perfect opponent came along in Darby Allin. Darby is the complete opposite of MJF and these two gelled so well together.
This is the first time that the four pillars of AEW are referenced as in Darby, MJF, Jungle Boy and Sammy Guevara and hinting for the first time MJF possibly jumping to WWE. These are the four young talents that are believed to be the future of AEW. MJF holds victories over all of them except Darby. Darby also points out that MJF is the only pillar to never hold gold in AEW. Guess the Dynamite Diamond Ring isn’t being counted.
This sets MJF off and delivers a promo that gets very nasty and personal as he brings up Darby being in a car accident with his drunken uncle that cost his uncle his life and MJF said it should have been you Darby.
The feud of MJF vs Darby leading to Full Gear 2021 was one of the most compelling and interesting stories going into the show. These men delivered an absolute classic kicking off the show with MJF shockingly pulling off the victory with a headlock takedown.
MJF vs Darby is a feud that could have gone on for months as they had tremendous chemistry together, but AEW made a mistake in our opinion by making it a one and done feud, leaving money on the table. It is clear that these two will run it back in the future, potentially being one of MJF’s first title defense.
This would lead MJF into the feud of his career with his childhood idol, CM Punk. These are two men that grew up idolizing Roddy Piper and mimicking his mic style in their own careers. This is without a doubt one of the best feuds of 2022 and the best feud in AEW’s short history.
The mic shots that both men took at one another were cemented in realism and that is what made this so compelling. Both men absolutely needed this type of rivalry as both men had no equal in AEW on the mic. For now, the third time, MJF pulled the card of you have to beat who I say before I’ll wrestle you. Again, there is no explanation for why he is allowed to do this.
CM Punk would win the trials and face MJF. MJF beat CM Punk in Chicago, making him the first man to defeat CM Punk in AEW. The feud wouldn’t end there as CM Punk wanted revenge on MJF. MJF delivered an amazingly personal promo, which is one of the best promos we have ever seen:
The MJF vs CM Punk feud would lead to a Dog Collar match coincidentally a match type made famous by Roddy Piper and Greg Valentine at Starrcade 83. So, at AEW Revolution 2022, these men delivered an absolutely brutal match that completely lived up to the hype. These men told a story that was compelling and like true all-time greats, both men were bigger stars after it in the fans eyes. MJF lost, but it was done in a way that didn’t hurt MJF at all. It also set up his next feud with his bodyguard, Wardlow.
This is a feud that has been building for a long time as Wardlow has “a contract with MJF and not AEW”. Again, for the fourth time in a short period of time MJF is demanding Wardlow go through obstacles including a whipping before he gets his match with MJF and a steel cage match with Shawn Spears, the steel cage match in AEW was first done with Cody Rhodes Vs Wardlow during the Cody and MJF feud.
Regardless, this is yet again one of the most compelling segments and rivalries in AEW and that is the reason MJF has this insane appeal to him. You cannot teach this ability, it is so insanely special. Every feud MJF has had in AEW has been a must see and that is because he knows how to get himself over on the mic and p*** off the crowd to the point they are willing to pay money for a PPV to see someone beat up MJF.
The whipping segment with Wardlow, was amazingly well done as MJF helped make Wardlow look like an absolute beast in this segment. As Wardlow took the whipping with MJF whipped him as hard as he could, Wardlow taunted MJF acting like the whipping was just a simple poke. MJF flipping out over it was absolute gold making this match up even more must see.
Paul Heyman said it best every great storyline needs to answer three questions:
- Who are these people?
- Why are they fighting?
- Why should I care?
MJF feuds consistently answer all these questions.
One last thing, when talking about MJF’s appeal as a heel, he reminds me of 1997 Bret Hart, in that Bret was a heel all over America, but was a babyface everywhere else. MJF is a heel everywhere except his hometown of Long Island, NY or as he calls it “The Most Magical Place On Earth ”.
In general, MJF believes very much in the staying in heel character even at autograph signings and fans literally love being absolutely berated by him. He is giving them an experience much like the legendary insult comic, Don Rickles, or as many of you may know him, the voice of Mr. Potato Head in Toy Story. People would pay to be in the front row of his comedy shows hoping he would insult them as it was viewed as a badge of honor. Wrestling fans truly feel the same way about MJF.