AEW ALL ELITE ASSESSMENT: Four Pillar Series – MJF’s background, journey, and future

By Dan Allanson, PWTorch contributor

5 stars that could beat MJF


With Double or Nothing but a week away it’s time for the final Four Pillar profile on the All Elite Assessment. Normal service to resume next week but in the meantime….



“I’m going to be an opera singer and a wrestler”

-Maxwell Jacob Friedman, “The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” 2001

What may have seemed like a bold statement from a precocious young boy in 2001 seems portentous in 2023. Driven by pure ambition, MJF has reached the pinnacle (pun intended) of All Elite Wrestling. A combination of single mindedness, prolific talent, and a long forgotten dedication to kayfabe has meant that Friedman has realized his prediction 20 years on from his much replayed appearance on an American talk-show.

Born in Plainview, New York, MJF represented his high school on the football field as well as displaying a talent for crooning a chord. His boyhood dream of becoming a pro wrestler led to training at an academy in New York under the tutelage of Impact talent Brian Myers and AEW agent Pat Buck. A setback came in the form of rejection from WWE Tough Enough but the well-worn independent wrestling path beckoned as MJF journeyed through the who’s-who of the industry including on CZW and MLW events.

It was on the independents that MJF cultivated his protected persona. A naturally arrogant heel bedecked in a Burberry scarf and the finest suits, MJF oozes an air of superiority. He displays obvious disdain for his opponents and the live crowd; he berates both with a rarely equaled promo ability. For someone so strong on the mic, MJF’s in-ring ability is equally as impressive. Able to switch among hardcore, technical, and athletic styles, the self-proclaimed “Salt of the Earth” is seemingly the complete package.


Although debuting as a heel for AEW, MJF seemingly turned face early in his company run and aligned with friend and advocate Cody Rhodes. His true colors were soon revealed though as MJF turned on Rhodes, costing the American Nightmare the World Title in the process. A feud between the two would define the next few months for MJF as he would add a bodyguard in Wardlow to his act and set Rhodes a number of challenges to earn a match with his former friend. A undefeated run then followed, a run which featured a Dynamite Diamond ring victory, a trinket which MJF would go on to retain.

History would repeat itself when MJF aligned with Chris Jericho’s Inner Circle stable only to turn on the group and form his own competing group, The Pinnacle. This feud would feature the divisive “Le Dinner Debonair” segment as well as both “Blood and Guts” and “Stadium Stampede” matches. MJF would then tangle with CM Punk in a number of critically-acclaimed battles. Bodyguard Wardlow would become reluctantly entangled in the rivalry and eventually break away from his erstwhile employee. Both Jericho and Punk feuds would be regarded as feud of the year contenders, but controversy was not far away.

The line between fantasy and reality has always been a blurred one with MJF. Indeed, his success as a character could be credited to his complete dedication to maintaining his on-screen presentation off it. This approach caused consternation, though, when MJF no-showed a fan signing on the eve of a major PPV match against Wardlow. Rumors swirled and the showdown match was completely overshadowed. A caustic promo aimed at the promotion on the following week’s Dynamite and an unspecified suspension followed.

MJF returned at All Out 2022 and immediately claimed a title shot in nefarious circumstances, a title shot MJF would then claim at the following Full Gear PPV event. With the help of a misguided William Regal, MJF would defeat champion Jon Moxley and finally ascend to the top of the All Elite roster. Eager to prove his technical prowess, MJF would then face Bryan Danielson in a tremendous 60-minute Iron Man match and retain his title in overtime.

The remaining pillars now await at the upcoming Double or Nothing in a title four-way, the odds stacked against the champion.


Many have commented that it feels too early in MJF’s title run for a switch, so given the under-cooked feel to his opponents, a retention is the right path. A spin-off feud against Darby Allin could be an intriguing next step. The contradictory nature of Allin’s and MJF’s personas and subsequent battle could provide the trajectory to an eventual MJF vs. Sting confrontation, perhaps at the All In Wembley show this coming August.

The second Forbidden Door show also provides a compelling list of possible opponents either side of the Pacific. A dismissive MJF against a babyface NJPW babyface would provide a fresh story. Outside of PPV possibilities re-visiting the Wardlow feud would appear a natural choice, but with Wardlow’s stock diminished in recent months with a stop-start presentation, perhaps more time should pass before the two clash again.

Another former opponent in CM Punk is another possibility, though is tentative at best given recent events. As CM Punk never lost the title that MJF now holds, the narrative writes itself. This would be a dangerous course, though, as MJF could be interpreted by the AEW fan base as the babyface of the feud, an AEW original as it were. Given MJF has previously invited cheers which have diluted his heel persona, this direction would be questionable.


MJF is a star within the AEW universe who vehemently protects his character and position. A breakout star with true mainstream potential, AEW must fight off the inevitable overtures which will follow from WWE to protect one of their most prized assets.

Catch Up…

AEW ALL ELITE ASSESSMENT: Four Pillar Series – Sammy Guevara’s background, journey, and future

AEW ALL ELITE ASSESSMENT: Four Pillar Series – “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry’s background, journey, and future

AEW ALL ELITE ASSESSMENT: Four Pillar Series – Darby Allin’s background, journey, and future

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