Turning MJF babyface, the legit hottest heel in the business in the middle of his feud with babyface, Jon Moxley now is a massive mistake.
Professional wrestling has been around for a very long time and is one of the oldest forms of entertainment. There have been promotions all over the world and with completely different styles and in different languages. Despite these differences there are two true constants that lead to success in this business, quality storytelling and the very simple babyface vs heel.
To me there are three core questions that need to be answered in any feud in the business in order for it to even have a chance of being successful:
1) Who are these wrestlers?
2) Why are they fighting?
3) Why Should I care?
Without answering these questions, a feud really has no chance of actually succeeding in connecting with the audience. At the end of the day, it may be entertainment for us fans but for the promoters and wrestlers this is a business. Getting fans to buy merchandise, pay for PPVs and buying tickets to the shows is their goal, because it is their source of income.
The more successful an angle is in connecting with an audience not only helps the wrestlers in the angle, but the promotion itself and the other talent on the roster as it has the potential to increase all three sources of income.
I swear it has not been my intention to just be an exclusive MJF writer, but for me as a writer, I write about the things in wrestling that connect with me and inspire me. It just so happens that this once in a generation talent has been a center of focus for me for a while now. Whether it be for promos and angles he has been involved with or booking decisions that have been made.
A month ago, I wrote about how AEW was able to take an absolutely horrible situation that they were put in thanks to the disastrous All Out Press Conference, which I also covered as well, and somehow to pivot into a great angle. With MJF vs CM Punk for the AEW Championship off the table, AEW had a new golden opportunity by booking MJF vs Moxley for the AEW Championship instead.
As I stated this was the smart play for AEW to have MJF vs Moxley for the title. Their two characters couldn’t be more polar opposites and they are both complete pros that could turn this bad situation around for AEW and help move on from the CM Punk/Elite situation.
As I have said multiple times, MJF is a once in a generation talent, in my opinion for the entire 24 plus years I have been a fan of this business. from what I have witnessed live and what I’ve read and watched documenting the history of the business. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper is arguably the greatest heel ever on the mic and although many have tried to mimic or match the level of heat, he was able to generate, no one has come close except MJF.
Problem With A MJF Face Turn Now:
The problem with turning MJF face now is that it completely kills the momentum that the MJF character has and the heat that you have been building for the Moxley vs MJF matchup at Full Gear. It is simple, if you have the hottest heel in the business facing your babyface champion on your last big PPV of the year, YOU DON’T TURN THE HEEL FACE! Face vs Face or Heel vs Heel matches don’t have the appeal or connections with the audience like Heel vs Face does.
Piper often said more people paid for WrestleMania 1 to see Hogan kick my ass than they did to just see Hogan. There is actual sound logic there, think about major movies, like Avengers: Endgame, the audience paid to see how the heroes would return and get revenge on Thanos (heel). Heels that are truly doing their job correctly get the audience to the point where they want nothing more than to see the face to beat the hell out of the heel.
The MJF character is a character that you love to hate, so can you respect and be entertained by him because he is so good at being a heel? Of course, you can, but that doesn’t mean he has to become a face in the middle of a potentially really hot angle. The MJF character should not be even hinting at a face turn at all at this time.
AEW should not be even thinking about a face turn right now, what they should have been doing is let MJF be the heel that is has become a master at playing. The MJF that cut the pipebomb, was angry and bitter, and I’m not going into it again here, but as I talked about multiple times, AEW could have done more to capitalize on it in my opinion.
MJF’s return at All Out, was actually perfectly executed in that he not only got exactly what he wanted from a storyline perspective, more money, no extension on his existing deal and the joker spot in the casino ladder match, but he assembled a team of equally disgruntled talent to back him in his quest for the AEW World Championship.
It made complete and perfect sense for the MJF character not to just be satisfied with getting what he wanted, but to seek revenge on Tony Khan and AEW by taking the most valuable prize in the company in the AEW World Championship.
MJF doing any dastardly thing he could to not only ensure he takes the AEW World Championship from Moxley, but to retain it through the rest of his contract, would be the characters only goal right now. That is the only believable thing that would make any sense for the character right now. Having The Firm on retainer makes all the sense in the world for his character to ensure his goals are met.
As I covered earlier this week, MJF’s verbal duel with William Regal was executed perfectly. The MJF character considers himself a mastermind and steps ahead of his opponents in the world of mind games, but the wily veteran, William Regal, has been the “Gentleman Villian” for a very long time and outsmarted MJF. He was able to manipulate MJF into agreeing not to take the easy way out by randomly cashing in, but instead to announce when his cash in would be in advance. This protects Regal’s protege, fellow Blackpool Combat Club member, AEW World Champion, Jon Moxley, from a random cash in.
That brings us to this week’s AEW Dynamite, MJF should have been pissed off that he let Regal get into his head causing him to make a mistake he already regrets. The MJF character wouldn’t and shouldn’t care about what anyone thinks about him taking the easy way out by cashing in randomly.
If anything, MJF should have been trying to weasel his way out of his commitment to the Full Gear cash in and Tony Khan turning MJF’s pleas down to back out of the match. Leading to MJF looking for revenge on Moxley and Regal.
That is not what AEW gave us this week, instead of MJF using any and all of his resources to seek revenge, he wanted to play by the rules and didn’t want the Firm to even touch Moxley. From a storyline and character perspective this makes ZERO sense. The MJF character is a heel and has done everything he could to get the number one contender spot, SO WHY WOULD HE PLAY BY THE RULES NOW!?! Then the Firm jumps Moxley after his match and MJF runs down to stop them and instead gets laid out himself by them.
From a logical perspective, this is just a colossal mistake, that serves no logical purpose other than to turn MJF face and a swerve to the fans for no other purpose than to swerve the fans. This segment looked like it was ripped out of Vince Russo’s swerve playbook. Like anything worth wild in wrestling, things should be done for a reason to move along the story and make sense. The Firm turning on MJF, did not move the story along in the right direction and made no sense.
Before I get the complaints, oh let it play out and Tony Khan knows what he is doing, I respectfully disagree that this was done for no other reason than to turn MJF face and swerve the fans just to swerve them. During the WRTD Watch Party, Clark Taylor, Coby Galenzoski and I debated this really odd booking decision and we all thought this made no real sense to do it now.
We considered the possibility of whether they were heading towards a double turn with MJF and Moxley swapping roles or perhaps Regal siding with MJF at Full Gear making them both heels, but neither one of those scenarios makes the Firm turning on MJF now make any sense.
If they turned around and said oh the Firm turn on MJF was done to give a false sense of security and they are truly still with him to screw Moxley out of the title, that would fit MJF doing anything to win, but it is convoluted and a stupid way to get there in my opinion.
The only other thought I had was this done to make this suddenly a triple threat match by either inserting Ethan Page or Morrissey into the match for the purposes of one of them taking the fall instead of MJF or Moxley?
That way if MJF or Moxley beat the third man, the other can go you didn’t beat me leading to a one-on-one match between the two. It would be the safe move for Tony Khan to do something like this in order to protect his long-term dependable talent, Moxley especially if the plan is to put the title on MJF, who may be gone in 13-months.
Regardless of the reasoning for this sudden turn of the Firm on MJF, it is a really shortsighted and dumb decision in my opinion. This turn was not needed in order to sell MJF vs Moxley for the AEW World title as a MUST SEE match. MJF and Moxley were already doing a tremendous job selling this match as one that encouraged fans to buy the show to see it.
Instead, AEW threw in this completely unnecessary swerve that will likely cause more harm in the storytelling than good in my opinion. I’m curious in how AEW tries to dig themselves out of this ditch here and I’ll be the first one to say I was wrong if they can blow me away with this payoff, but I’m very skeptical that they will be able to pull this off in all honesty.