Professional Wrestling has a history of turning horrible situations around into positive ones and AEW has that chance with MJF vs Jon Moxley for the AEW World Championship as a smart play now that CM Punk is no longer in the picture.
I’ve written a lot about MJF this year and huge reason for that is arguably one of if not the most compelling characters in all of professional wrestling. In a lot of ways MJF is significantly smarter and more advanced than anyone else of his generation especially in AEW. While guys like Darby Allin and Sammy Guevara are taking insane dives to make highlight reels or impress a certain “star ratings journalist” to get over, MJF looks down on this approach because he is playing the smart long game.
MJF knows the style that guys like Darby and Sammy wrestle don’t lend themselves to longevity and could easily shorten their careers. MJF also knows that these guys cannot keep this style up long term because their bodies won’t hold up to allow it to happen. MJF’s greatest asset and skill is his mic work and there is nobody in any company right now better than him at it in my opinion. The ability to eviscerate people on the mic is a skill that MJF could utilize to get himself and angles over for decades if he wants. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, MJF is the most valuable and important member of the four pillars of AEW.
Months ago, I discussed how great MJF’s pipebomb was from the June 1st Dynamite. Promos like this one just further prove just how good and compelling MJF is on the mic. However, as I wrote following this promo on not just once but twice, I felt that AEW could have done more to play up this real-life situation that was turned into an angle. My opinion was and still is that things could have been done to further elevate this angle during his absence from AEW TV.
With MJF’s greatest asset being his ability to talk shit, I think having him appear in other places unannounced just to cut a promo to bury Tony Khan and AEW for example or doing interviews in character and tweeting his displeasure would have added an element of realism blurring the lines. Making the audience question, whether this really was an angle or a shoot. Essentially a page of the Brian Pillman “Loose Cannon” playbook making the audience and the boys in the back not sure what is real and what is storyline.
However, I will fully admit AEW nicely explained why MJF returned to the company, which is something I wasn’t sure was possible. The moment the masked Joker came out at All Out Casino Ladder match at All Out 2022, me and everyone else in the WRTD Watch Party all instantly said that’s MJF. The next thought was how the hell are they going to explain why the guy that demanded his release from the company and buried his boss on the mic would even agree to comeback from a storyline standpoint.
They actually brilliantly handled that by playing a “voicemail” with Tony Khan begging MJF to return by giving him more money with no extension and the joker spot in the ladder match. This made sense that MJF, got what he wanted so he agreed to comeback. That last visual to closeout this year’s less than stellar All Out with MJF gesturing he was going to take the World Title from his bitter rival, CM Punk was a great way to close the show.
However, as I previously wrote, instead of all the focus being on the long-awaited return of MJF to AEW, the All Out Media Scrum, erased all that. CM Punk in a completely uncalled for unprofessional tirade vented about people being unprofessional and disrespectful while he was literally doing the same thing. Whatever issues him and the Elite have they should have handled it like adults behind closed doors.
This put Tony Khan and AEW in such a bad light as it gave the appearance of a promotion that was letting the inmates running the asylum and an owner that was more concerned with being everyone’s friend and didn’t know how to lead and control the company. Especially, when Tony went on his own delusional rant about how unfair it was that WWE held shows the same weekend and how he had so much money. These things really hurt the MJF return because all the focus was on Punk and Tony’s rants and the backstage fight where Ace Steel allegedly bit Kenny Omega at some point.
Turning A Bad Situation Into A Positive One:
With CM Punk injured for months and possibly on his way out of the company if the rumors are true, AEW needed someone to fill that role of MJF’s rival for the world title. Professional Wrestling is all about storytelling and when necessary, adapting to the change in situations like a wrestler going down with an injury. Like I said this was an awful situation for AEW especially when it involves their top championship. Personally, I think they overuse interim champions, so I’m happy they didn’t do that here.
Moxley and Danielson, was in my opinion the best finals of this tournament that they could have gone with here as either man is dependable former world champion that could carry the title and represent the company respectfully. They were also both perfect options to feud with MJF, especially if the plan is for MJF to take the title. They are both already established stars and multiple time world champions so losing the title to MJF wouldn’t hurt either of them in the least.
Earlier yesterday, there was a meme that pointed out that when CM Punk left ROH and WWE, Danielson went on to with their world titles and the question was would history repeat itself again in AEW. To me I felt whoever won this match at Grand Slam is likely going to be a transitional champion that would eventually drop it to MJF. So, I was fine regardless of who won the match at Grand Slam, because I felt either man would be a good match up on the mic and in the ring with MJF. Both men are the complete opposite of the MJF character, which I think really helps with the storytelling.
If it was Danielson, it would have been nice that he won the AEW World title for the first time and he has a lot of experience feuding with the Miz, so there are similarities in the personalities between MJF and the Miz, which fans have pointed out over the years. However, I think Moxley was probably the smarter choice to match up with MJF.
The men had one match against each other at All Out 2020, where MJF challenged Moxley for the AEW World title and lost. So much like if MJF was facing Punk for the title, it can be built around revenge and the quest for the biggest title in AEW. MJF lost his feuds with Punk and Moxley, so the revenge factor is something that will likely be played up here or at least it should be. Moxley is a scrapper, brawler type wrestler and MJF is like a cerebral assassin or dirtiest player in the game type hybrid that he looks to outsmart his opponent.
The Road Should Lead To Full Gear:
AEW has a few options here, since they are treating the Casino Chip like WWE’s Money In The Bank briefcase, where the holder can cash it in at any time opens up a couple possibilities. They could have MJF formally announce that he is cashing in and wants his title match with Moxley at November’s Full Gear, which is taking place in MJF territory in Newark, NJ. There will definitely be a strong vocal crowd there from New York especially Long Island, which is MJF’s people. If they announce in advance, they can certainly build the event around this main event.
That is certainly a strong option especially considering the criticism that they received from fans about All Out not have stories probably built and the feeling everything was rushed and thrown together and underdelivered in many fans’ eyes. However, I don’t think this option truly fits the MJF character. MJF is sneaky and manipulative and someone who will do anything to win. He doesn’t care if the fans like how he wins the title or not, as long as he walks away with the gold it doesn’t matter to him how he gets it.
The visual of MJF looking on smirking as Moxley and Danielson beat the hell out of each other was a great visual and leads me to believe that the most likely cash in will not be in advance. I think the most likely option is AEW builds the Full Gear main event around Moxley vs Danielson for the AEW World title. MJF will likely tease and torment both men leading up to the show.
I think MJF will cash in either during the match like Seth Rollins did at WrestleMania 31, where Roman and Brock had already beaten the hell out of each other, and Seth swooped in and suddenly made the match a triple threat and took advantage of the situation and stole the WWE title. The other option is the immediate cash in after the match like Edge did at New Year’s Revolution 2006. Cena had successfully defended the WWE Championship in an Elimination Chamber match and Edge became the first MITB cash in and swooped in and defeated an already battered Cena for the title.
Either one of these cash in options would make sense for MJF to utilize because it would fit the character perfectly. I think you have MJF defeat Moxley for the title at Full Gear and then these men could have an amazing feud as I truly believe they can bring the best out of each other.
The truth is MJF’s time in AEW maybe down to just 14 months as many including myself still believe that MJF is likely to jump to WWE in January 2024. So, while you have him under contract you need to take full advantage of it and make the most money you can with him in case you cannot re-sign him. A MJF world title reign is definitely a money maker for them because no one generates heat and buzz in AEW like MJF. If he does end up leaving, you can build to a world title feud with Darby or Jungle Boy for example that leads to his exit by having him putting over a young talent that is staying.
Photo Credits – AEW and PWT