Maxwell Jacob Friedman is one of the best characters going in professional wrestling today. All Elite Wrestling’s All Out pay-per-view saw him challenge for Jon Moxley’s AEW World Championship and come up short. This came as a disappointment to some fans who saw this match as a chance for AEW to move away from the arguably valid criticism of the company only trusting ex-WWE wrestlers in prominent roles; putting their biggest prize on some truly home-grown talent would have squashed this concern.
Regardless, MJF looked great in the match and will surely grace us with his presence in the championship picture again in the future. For now, though, the next challenger for the title has been named in ‘The Murderhawk Monster’ Lance Archer, so it seems a rematch is not on the table for Friedman. So, what could be next for him?
Feud with Wardlow
Following the events of All Out, the obvious choice for MJF’s next opponent can be found in his bodyguard, Wardlow. The finish to Friedman’s world title opportunity saw Wardlow take the official and attempt to pass MJF his Dynamite diamond ring, only for ‘The Salt of the Earth’ to fumble the catch. He was then caught by Moxley, who dropped him on his head and scored the pin.
On the following episode of Dynamite, MJF predictably delivered a tongue lashing to Wardlow and blamed him for the loss. The two left the segment on the same page, but the seeds have been planted for dissension in the ranks of the MJF campaign. This will likely lead to Wardlow soaking up abuse from Friedman for weeks before eventually having enough and turning on his employer.
MJF will no doubt be able to make this feud great, with the enraged Wardlow failing to get his hands on Friedman at every step until AEW’s next PPV, Full Gear. MJF could even enlist some new help, an ‘upgrade’, perhaps in the form of similarly massive AEW regular Will Hobbs.
Then when Wardlow has overcome every obstacle put in his way and finally has the opportunity to deliver a well-deserved beating to MJF, it will be a fantastic moment. No matter who comes out on top of the feud, Wardlow will have the momentum to go on a babyface singles run and MJF can get back to focussing on pursuing the AEW Title with his new and improved bodyguard.
If, by some miracle, MJF and Wardlow were to stay together it would do them good to participate in some trust exercises; that is to say, tag team matches (not Kurt Angle sanctioned counselling). Their opponents? Jurassic Express.
MJF and ‘Jungle Boy’ Jack Perry had a fantastic match earlier in the year, and then the team of Friedman and Wardlow took on Jurassic Express, with the heels losing the tag bout. MJF likely hasn’t forgotten this and could easily re-ignite a feud with the team.
Jurassic Express will take on AEW Tag Team Champions FTR next week on Dynamite and may get a title shot if they win this bout; it doesn’t seem likely that they would dethrone the champions this early into their run, though. This feud would therefore be a great way to utilise both teams.
MJF could attack Marko Stunt, unmask Luchasaurus, continue to point out that ‘Jungle Boy’ and Griff Garrison look a bit similar – all fundamentally detestable heel shtick. Friedman and Perry can provide more of that excellent grappling, and Wardlow and Luchasaurus excel at being agile big men.
Also, on Dynamite, Chris Jericho and Jake Hager announced their intent to pursue the Tag Team Championships. Earlier in the night, Jericho and MJF had an insincere compliment competition with both heels complaining about the other’s loss at All Out and patting them on the back, before both walking away and claiming that they “hate that guy”. The two could run into each other down the line in a tag team contest. More great matches waiting to happen.
Much like Mr Brodie Lee, MJF failed at his first singles championship opportunity so it would do him good to win the secondary title to show that he still needs to be taken seriously. Also, being the TNT Champion would give him a reason to appear weekly on every Dynamite and talk – which will ensure he remains over.
Admittedly, there is the slight problem of The Dark Order holding the TNT Title at the moment. It’s a bit of a stretch to imagine that MJF has been humbled by his loss to Moxley, has a change of heart and reforms his alliance with The Nightmare Family, and takes on Lee to avenge Cody.
Much more likely is that Cody would return and recapture the title from ‘The Exalted One’ and we could then see a Cody vs MJF rematch to their excellent bout from Revolution. MJF could reignite the feud by deludedly claiming Cody has weakened in his time away, or Cody could say he desperately needs to face Friedman to avenge the loss that’s been haunting him.
The two could then have the rematch, with the stakes being even higher than before with the TNT Championship involved. Maybe in a traditional face vs heel encounter like their first match, or perhaps Cody returns with a little edge? But that’s fantasy booking for another time.
Ultimately it seems like MJF is already a superstar in AEW, and his proclamation that he will be carrying the company for “the next twenty-five years” may just come to fruition. No matter what, he’ll still be better than us and will continue to let us know it.
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