The million dollar question is who is the man in the devil mask in AEW since it is not MJF?
This maybe the most interesting and thought-provoking question currently going in the wrestling world. As fans speculate who is the man in the mask from everyone from Jack Perry or Adam Cole or Britt Baker or Kyle O’Riley or a WWE released talent or as WR’s Clark Taylor was first to speculate could it be recently fired AEW star, CM Punk.
Whoever is the man behind the mask, AEW has something that haven’t had in a while, genuine intrigue with the fans talking about the product and this story in particular. Despite this interest, AEW is suffering from stagnant ratings and troubling images that seem to come out week after week of empty seats in the arenas of AEW shows. In the midst of all this AEW are trying to secure a new more lucrative TV deal for the company.
Personally, my opinion is AEW needs this devil angle to pay off in a big way. The person behind the masks and the attacks needs to be someone that would make sense and yet at the same time truly shock the wrestling world.
Obviously, the most shocking name that I have seen offered anywhere was from our own Clark Taylor, who has been saying it is the voice of the voiceless, CM Punk on WR Daily Broadcast multiple times. It would fit as no one would see it coming other than Clark and storyline wise, CM Punk has ties to MJF, the devil and the AEW World title as he claimed to be the real champion and it was never resolved.
However, unless CM Punk and Tony Khan along with the entire AEW roster has been working the fans and the dirt sheets for months I think this outcome is unlikely. Although I’ll freely eat crow if Clark was right all along.
At the end of the day, it needs to be someone shocking, but unfortunately there are very few people that can be that person that can live up to the hype. Personally, I think it is Jack Perry since he has been off of TV since his run-in with CM Punk backstage at All In, so his return to AEW TV is likely to happen sometime soon and since he was a heel when he left it certainly seems logical, he would still be one when he returns. Jack Perry would certainly be shocking, but would it shock the system enough to make a significant difference to the AEW product? Honestly, I don’t think so and the same can be said about all the other suspects mentioned besides Punk.
“The benefit of a shock to the system plot twist is that it does force characters into motion usually in completely new trajectories”Robert Lee Brewer
What I am going to suggest here is not what I think is going to happen, but what I think should happen. Without a doubt this is the most controversial piece I have ever written and I’m sure the comment section will roast me. I want to make this clear the reason that I’m suggesting this is because I think this is the most shocking reveal that they could do and if played out right could greatly help the company long term as history has shown us.
The Devil Is Targeting MJF:
From the very first attack by the masked devil and his crew, my first immediate thought was it was not MJF behind the mask despite the crew jumping Jay White, the man MJF was feuding with. Although MJF has used the devil mask before and refers to himself as the devil, it seemed illogical for him to hide behind a mask to attack Jay White.
What I truly believed was that this person and his crew were really targeting MJF. Which makes sense because as the AEW World Champion you should have the biggest target on your back in the entire company. So, why attack Jay White then, you might be asking, while the answer is actually simple to frame MJF and to play mind games with MJF.
MJF admits he is a scumbag and has been the best heel in the business during AEW’s entire four-year existence. Recently he has become the people’s scumbag as an anti-hero face, but the AEW locker room and the fans know that deep down the loveable scumbag is just a scumbag and can flip that switch to full time heel real quick. So, it makes sense that Jay White wouldn’t believe MJF that he wasn’t the masked devil and his crew jumping him.
With MJF’s tag partner, Adam Cole out with a legitimate foot injury, he has no allies, so MJF is fighting off battles on all fronts alone. When MJF did find help in the form of the Trios champions, The Acclaimed and Billy Gunn, they were left laying by the devil and his crew.
What Does The Devil Want?
It seems clear to me that this masked devil wants to alienate MJF even more as his only allies were taken out and a clear message was sent to the locker room that if you even think about helping the scumbag, you’re next. He also wants to wear MJF mentally as well and the physical pressure is mounting up as well with challengers coming at him from all angles.
There is only so much fight that MJF physically has in him, and the mental mind games will take its toll on him.
Two Potential Scenarios Besides Mine:
Before I get into my scenario that I think would be the most shocking and beneficial scenario to AEW as a whole if played out right. I want to throw out two more possible devils that I think could be great and why I don’t think they could work.
Scenario #1 – CM Punk
Without question other than my theory which I will get to shortly, there is no other better option than WR’s own Clark Taylor’s call of CM Punk. He left the company never losing his “real” world’s championship, he has used the devil moniker before saying in ROH, “the greatest trick the devil ever played was making people believe he doesn’t exist”, he has major history with MJF and his firing for cause would make many people believe he couldn’t be the devil.
A reveal of CM Punk as the devil would be shocking and could certainly shock the system of AEW. Personally, the issues still remain with Punk and the Elite and the Elite’s allies backstage that were as far as we know never resolved. Unless they worked everyone in the business, which if they did it would be the greatest swerve of all time, but I think it is unlikely, but it wouldn’t bother me at all if I was wrong about this one. I know this theory has been making the rounds on the internet, but just so everyone knows it originated with WR’s Clark Taylor, who stated this on WR’s Daily Broadcast as soon as the devil first appeared.
Hypothetically if it was Punk, the way I would play it out is at World’s End, MJF agrees to defend the AEW World Championship against the Devil. The Devil wins using the GTS. This brings Tony Khan out from the back and the last image we see to close out the show is a callback to Punk’s infamous MITB moment as he leaves with the title, “without a contract” but is the world champion and blows a kiss to Tony as he exits through the crowd.
This would truly be shocking and blur the lines and certainly create waves across the wrestling world. Fans will tune in to see where this story is going, but Tony Khan will need to be a TV character for this to work effectively. This also has the added benefit that if this is MJF’s last match in AEW that the focus shifts to AEW’s Austin vs McMahon with CM Punk vs Tony Khan/Elite instead of the loss of MJF.
Scenario #2 – Adam Cole
When MJF and Adam Cole were forced into a reluctant tag team everyone including myself truly believed despite the “friendship” that MJF would ultimately be the one to turn on Adam Cole. Adam Cole is one of the greatest heels in the history of the business who has used multiple stables to achieve and maintain both the ROH World and NXT Championships.
Adam Cole putting together a stable with pieces of his former stables such as the Taven and Bennett (Kingdom), Strong and O’Riley (Undisputed Era) and the Young Bucks (Bullet Club) to create a supper heel faction with him as the kingpin could be amazing. An Undisputed Elite stable that could be AEW’s version of the Bloodline story could be amazing for AEW and the fans.
Although this would be amazing as well it also requires the same thing as the Punk theory, that everyone would have to have been completely worked if Adam Cole’s foot injury wasn’t legitimate or if it was real, we would have to suspend belief more than normal as there is no real way that the devil that we have seen could have pulled off the attacks with a surgically repaired foot.
In all seriousness, other than Punk and my theory which I will get to I promise, this is the third best option as this all fits as a whole and could be a great story if done correctly. Just like the Punk story, I would have MJF defend against the devil and the end comes after the devil hits Adam’s finisher and then after the match the devil’s crew comes out and beats MJF down and the lasting shot is Adam revealing himself as the devil.
This works the best if MJF is staying in AEW as he can feud with this Undisputed Elite faction like Austin vs the Corporation or Sting vs the nWo. If MJF doesn’t stay it gives Adam Cole something to brag about getting rid of the scumbag.
Who I Think AEW’s Devil Should Be:
Now put down the pitchforks and torches and calm down and hear me fully out before you burn me in effigy for suggesting this. I said when I started this piece that the person, I was going to suggest would be controversial and shocking.
AEW needs someone truly shocking to make this work to create a buzz and there is no bigger shocking option than Tony Khan. Like I said above the other two options could work, but this is an angle that has shown historically that it could be an absolute game changer.
AEW has been plagued by one major criticism since their launch in 2019 that Tony Khan is just a spoiled rich kid, who’s father bought him a wrestling promotion. He is playing fantasy booker with an actual promotion is the constant rallying cry from his detractors. This is further exacerbated by his meltdowns on Twitter when he goes off on WWE.
I started thinking as I was preparing for this week’s Throwback Thursday edition of WR’s Daily Broadcast with myself, Clark Taylor and Shad, that the infamous Montreal Screwjob, which was this week’s throwback topic was truly an industry changing event.
Just as a refresher, the WWF (WWE) was losing the war to WCW and it was common knowledge that Bret Hart, the reigning WWF Champion’s last match was scheduled to be at the Survivor Series against Shawn Michaels. Due to real life heat between Shawn and Bret, Bret refused to lose to Shawn. This resulted in Vince McMahon changing the finish without telling Bret and screwed him out of the WWF Championship.
This real-life shoot moment and the subsequent interview where Vince took the stance of “Bret screwed Bret”, created the greatest heel character ever in the Mr. McMahon character. This would eventually lead to Austin vs McMahon which is the greatest storyline and rivalry in the history of the business and catapulted the WWF back into the top spot ahead of WCW and the rest is history.
How The Story Should Play Out:
I think AEW should take elements of past successful angles and create something that is both nostalgic and industry shocking at the same time. What I would do is all the mind games lead to World’s End for the big devil reveal. I would have MJF accept a challenge for the AEW World Championship against the devil.
Now before anyone jumps to the conclusion that I’m suggesting MJF vs Tony Khan, I am not suggesting that at all. I think the smart choice is for the person in the devil suit to be Adam Cole, if that is a possibility, if not then Jay White. I would have this match be a Last Devil Standing match, that way there are no rules. Leading up to this match I would play up the fact of MJF’s contract coming to an end on commentary and draw parallels to people like CM Punk and Bret Hart, who went into matches as champions with expiring contracts.
During the all-out war in the ring, you can have run-ins from other devils that MJF and people like the Acclaimed can fight off until the end, when the real devil appears with a pair of customized brass knucks made out of dynamite diamond rings and hits MJF in the back of the head knocking him out causing him to lose the AEW World Championship.
Then either Adam Cole or Jay White, remove their mask to reveal that they are the new world champion. The rest of devils appear and reveal who they are except the real devil. However, as the PPV goes off the air the question lingers, but who is the real devil that used the brass knucks. This creates an intrigue of fans wondering what the hell is going on? Was this MJF’s last match? Who is the devil? Word of mouth could spread in the wrestling community and there should be an interest in Wednesday’s Dynamite to see what the next chapter in this story is.
Dynamite opens with Adam Cole or Jay White with his devil crew, and they immediately brag that this was a masterplan all along, but they cannot take all the credit. As evil as I am, I couldn’t have done it without the true devil. Tony Schiavone, who is doing the interview demands to know who the devil is.
Out comes the devil and takes off his mask to reveal it is Tony Khan to the shock of everyone. This could be similar to Vince McMahon revealing himself as the “higher power” behind the Ministry of Darkness or Eric Bischoff being the authority figure behind the nWo. Schiavone expresses complete shock and Tony Khan then gets to be his own version of Mr. McMahon/Eric Bischoff as the heel authority figure.
I know Tony Khan has said he doesn’t want to be a TV character, but he truly needs to do this because I truly believe this is an angle that has shown historically could work and is truly what is best for AEW. It is much easier to get people to hate you than it is to get them to love you.
Tony Khan should fully embrace the perception as the rich kid and use all those negative perceptions of him as fuel to embrace his inner heel. We have seen glimpses of it at press conferences when he is truly annoyed. I believe if he can find that inner heel inside of him that he may be able to pull this off and surprise people. I would have him cut a promo similar to this:
Tony Khan: You want to know why I did this? I did what was best for AEW, MY COMPANY…you’re booing me!?! I’m an asshole!?! No, I’m not the bad guy here…it was the scumbag that I hit with these Dynamite Diamond rings. He wanted a bidding war after holding me up for money once already.
I swallowed my pride and brought him back by giving into his demands for you fans…biggest mistake of my life was listening to you people. That prick wanted to hold MY World title hostage for a bidding war of 2024, well screw that scumbag…maybe he will have better luck “finishing his story” than the last guy that went there.
People have taken advantage of me as a pushover owner, I gave MJF whatever he wanted he wanted but it was never enough…no more of that Max. Give a round of applause for a new deserving World champion.”
Ideally in this story, MJF has resigned with the company, which personally I think it is more likely has or will, I would keep him off of TV for a while to sell his injuries and the fans wonder if he has resigned or is he gone from AEW. I would even have Adam Cole/Jay White feuding with someone like maybe Hangman or Omega over the AEW World title.
I would have MJF making a shocking return prior to Revolution and commence in Austin vs McMahon, or Austin vs Corporation or Sting vs nWo style story. He is going against the odds and as the talent in the back see the numbers game, you get people like Sting, Darby, Hangman and Omega come to MJF’s side as the story continues to progress.
Tony Khan is pissed since “MJF doesn’t have a contract”. They can play this out as MJF is a vigilante and a thorn in Tony Khan’s side. This leads to a storyline match up at All Out 2024 with MJF facing the AEW World Champion with the stipulation that if MJF wins, he gets his monster contract, but if MJF loses, he is banned from AEW forever. I would have MJF pick up the win here and
This would put an end to Tony Khan’s TV character at least for now, and you had a great story with a compelling story leading to this. For storyline purposes, you can even create a storyline GM to run things in AEW, which you could totally have MJF buttheads with that authority figure as well, if you want to continue the story of MJF playing the role of Austin and him fitting against the authority figure.
The key thing is you need a compelling story to come out of this devil storyline as AEW really truly needs that shock to the system reveal. Storytelling is the lifeblood of this business and nostalgia is allows an effective draw in wrestling. Austin vs McMahon and the Montreal Screwjob, are pivotal moments that shaped this business forever leaving their mark and if done right they could certainly do a modern twist to some old classics.