MJF retains hinting he’ll ultimately be a part of WWE. However, at the very least for now, that’s good for AEW and factors to certainly one of its strengths over the competitors.
It would sound counterintuitive, however MJF’s frequent WWE teases reveal the key of AEW’s attraction. For the Might eleventh episode of its flagship present, Dynamite, AEW was on the UBS Area on Lengthy Island. But once more, the usually villainous Maxwell Jacob Friedman obtained a hero’s welcome from his hometown crowd. The one doable exception to this reception got here when Friedman took a couple of seconds to say his pal Cody Rhodes. It’s a sensitive topic for a lot of AEW devoted, as Rhodes not too long ago left AEW to make his grand return to WWE. It’s additionally controversial as a result of MJF hinted that he may additionally be a part of Vince McMahon’s firm when his AEW contract expires in 2024.
The contract signing with Wardlow isn’t the primary time MJF has alluded to his frustrations with AEW and its boss Tony Khan. Roughly a day after the Lengthy Island episode wrapped, a report went into extra element about MJF’s contract state of affairs. Whether or not it’s the case that MJF is definitely at odds with Khan over his pay, and whether or not he would truly depart for WWE, is a query that’s had the wrestling world buzzing for months. Removed from being a weak level for AEW, the hypothesis highlights certainly one of its strengths – at the very least for now.
MJF is certainly one of AEW’s 4 pillars. Together with Jungle Boy, Darby Allin, and Sammy Guevara, the quartet is positioned as indispensable to AEW’s future development. The promotion additionally boasts a lot of rising stars, together with Wardlow, Daniel Garcia, Wheeler Yuta, Jade Cargill, Ricky Starks, Dante Martin, Hook, and Will Hobbs. Performers which have been choosing up steam and simply ready for his or her second within the solar. Performers that audiences have watched develop and evolve and, consequently, really feel a private funding in. It’s one space by which AEW beats WWE, and the response to MJF’s potential change to WWE solely proves how efficient AEW has been at permitting these younger stars to develop, as this transfer could be a giant deal.
Upward mobility isn’t the one essential consider skilled wrestling, definitely not on the expense of compelling storylines and character growth. However there’s something particular about watching a performer progressively climb their method up the ranks, trying to seize the proverbial brass ring. With vanishingly few examples, that climb merely doesn’t occur in WWE, resulting in occasions just like the mass launch of wrestlers by WWE. Those that debut within the midcard, or as a part of a tag staff, have a tendency to stay their method for the remainder of their careers. There could also be transient flirtations with the principle occasion and a world title shot, and trusted expertise could also be rewarded with extra TV time, albeit the marquee wrestlers are usually handpicked by McMahon and his advisors earlier than they even maintain their first championship.
Which will show to be true in AEW as effectively, with Khan having his choose few favorites that he’s stubbornly rigid about. For now, there’s nonetheless a widespread notion that any of AEW’s pillars and younger lions may ultimately get their likelihood to be within the prime spot in the event that they catch fireplace with audiences. There’s a sturdy case to be made that nobody has delivered greater than MJF. Although he joined the corporate with a good quantity of hype in 2019, he has exceeded each expectation since. His feuds with wrestlers like CM Punk, Chris Jericho, and now Wardlow have delivered a few of AEW’s best moments. MJF’s matches with Jungle Boy, Darby Allin, and Sammy Guevara have been amongst the corporate’s finest.
The capacity to assist facilitate the expansion of a younger performer, certainly one of AEW’s key promoting factors, can be dealt an enormous blow if MJF leaves for WWE in 2024. Extra broadly, the corporate may have misplaced a generational expertise. However within the meantime, that hypothesis and relentless curiosity add to the intrigue round an organization that has to date defied the percentages.
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