KELLER’S TAKE: MJF and Cole got the double-clothesline over, but is the buddy storyline going to pay off or backfire?


So MJF and Adam Cole are buddies, and it seems destined that it won’t last and will lead to an MJF match against Adam Cole for the AEW World Title. What is less sure is how the break-up of the current besties plays out and whether either or both wrestlers’ characters are damaged or enhanced from the journey.

Last night on AEW Dynamite, MJF and Cole went out to eat at a famous Chinese restaurant in Boston, with the gag being that MJF hates spicy food (almost as much as poor people!) and Cole undersold how hot the food was going to be. Then they swigged what they thought was water, but it was pure alcohol. And then they got drunk and double-clotheslined (off-camera) a server who, to their blurred impaired vision, looked like either Sammy Guevera or Daniel Garcia.

I got a kick out of it. MJF and Cole seem really into these skits and have a chemistry together I didn’t expect. I don’t think their skits are comedy gold, but they have moments and they’re largely endearing.

Then later, they engaged in a dance-off, which Sammy Guevara and Daniel Garcia engaged in, that felt like a dream sequence that someone was going to wake up from.

Then after their win, Cole picked up MJF’s title and eyed it. MJF took offense and yanked it angrily from Cole. Then, to continue the presumed con, MJF realized he had to pretend he was okay with it after Cole explained that he was just holding it to give it to MJF. But when Cole turned away, MJF glared at him, a window into what’s really going on in his head and his real feelings about Cole compared to how much he covets his world title.

LISTEN: Wade Keller, Eric Krol, and Mike McMahon along with callers and an on-site correspondent discussed this angle and the rest of Dynamite on the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Post-show podcast – AVAILABLE HERE (or search “Wade Keller” in your podcast app and subscribe to the red-logo podcast)

So on July 19 on Collision, this friendship is likely going to come to an end. Then it’ll set up a match between them at All In, presumably (since they’re not setting anyone else up to be MJF’s top contender next month) and perhaps a rematch at All Out.

That look on MJF’s face after Cole turned around seemed to reveal that MJF has taken the (convenient) happenstance of their names being drawn as a team in the Blind Eliminator Tag Tournament (was the tournament created entirely just for this storyline?) to try to befriend someone that he felt ultimately was a threat to take his title. So he created a ruse of a friendship, pretended to like him, all to either plan a vicious attack when his guard is down or perhaps actually continue the ruse of being friends so he could avoid Cole challenging him for the title at all.

AEW has five hours of TV to fill each week. MJF is creative and has great range as a character. MJF seems like he’d get restless and bored doing regular heel promos each week just insulting the audience or bragging about himself. That leads to a lot of things, some that seem like potentially troubling directions for his character (like much of 2022) and others that can backfire (playing such a compelling character and flirting with his babyface persona in Long Island so effectively that fans chanted his name in Chicago, of all places, as C.M. Punk was celebrating his triumphant AEW Title win, of all times).

So is this a situation that is going to backfire in any way? Is this a good way to fill TV time with buzz-generating, entertaining (in the eye of the beholder) skits over the course of a month? Or is this a flawed “overly-creative” path to the end point of one or two AEW World Title matches that can leave Adam Cole damaged and MJF being cheered again because he’s been so entertaining during this ruse?

I don’t know the answer to those questions. I’m along for the ride, with reservations. One of my concerns is that fans don’t go back to booing MJF after MJF turns on Cole or after Cole turns on MJF. Another is that Cole could be damaged because fans lose respect for him for buying into MJF’s con and being swept away by MJF’s false charm offensive. Plus, is this a “world title-level main event” storyline or is it more of a mid-card “sports-entertainmenty” storyline that isn’t a good fit with what will ultimately be a match that headlines one or two major events?

Even if it’s not a disaster, is it too polarizing to be worth it? I think a lot of AEW’s initial audience turned to AEW out of frustration with WWE being too gimmicky and zany. They were seeking a more serious presentation of the simulated combat sport of pro wrestling. The dance-off and these on-location sketch comedy segments (with all of these post-produced camera angles that make it feel anything but organic and real) might appeal to many AEW viewers, but what if it turns off even more than it attracts?

I posted a poll yesterday on (VOTE HERE) asking how you all felt about the dance-off. So far, nearly half (48%) chose the option “I like it a lot.” Only about one-third (32%) chose “I don’t like it at all.” The rest (29%) chose “I enjoy it, but have reservations.”

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That’s about what I expected. I think it’s polarizing and it’s the type of thing that is going to appeal to some and be a turn-off for others. It’s a risk, then, to go this direction. But Tony Khan, along with MJF and Cole, might look at two months of TV time to fill and conclude they need to do something out of the box and buzz-generating, even if the response is mixed, rather than a more traditional build with heel and babyface promos, contract signings, sneak attacks, whatever. They get points for creativity and, for what they’re trying to do, they’ve shown chemistry and they’re clearly all in on the bit. (Pun intended.)

I think those who don’t like this will be pulled into wanting to see the match as long as the break-up and subsequent promos shift into a more serious mode, and as long as MJF truly ends up seeming unlikable and Cole doesn’t seem too damaged by being naive or seeming too silly along the way.

By the way, I can’t rule out entirely that Cole is going to turn heel. Perhaps Cole eyeing that title last night is going to lead to Cole turning on MJF, upsetting fans because the friendship that MJF might have started insincerely actually grew into a sincere friendship from MJF’s perspective. (Remember, MJF told Cole while they were playing videogames that he has no friends.) Maybe if Cole turned on MJF, fans would embrace MJF as a babyface (an option Khan and MJF seriously considered months ago).

Maybe the thought is that Cole was floundering as a babyface without an edge to him and that he’s just more compelling as a heel. In AEW, his size is less of an issue than being a heel would have been on WWE’s main roster. And perhaps TK and MJF look at the roster and believe they have more compelling matches for MJF as a babyface than as a heel. (I don’t think that’s the case, though.)

I’m along for the ride, enjoying parts of this journey and I have faith they’ve thought this through and have a plan that will protect both MJF and Cole and ignite fan interest in their title match(s) coming up.

And if nothing else, MJF and Cole have succeeded in getting fans to pop for a topé and a double-clothesline like it’s 1992 all over again.

How do you feel this should end? Do you think people are crazy for not liking this or are the real crazy people the ones who are encouraging this? Email me your thoughts at

RECOMMENDED NEXT… KELLER’S TAKE: So far so good for Collision as Tony Khan deliberately attempts to create a different booking style and vibe for new series

OR CHECK OUT JASON POWELL’S TAKE AT PROWRESTLING.NET: Powell’s AEW Dynamite Hit List: The Golden Elite vs. Blackpool Combat Club in a Blood & Guts match, MJF & Cole vs. Garcia & Guevara

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