The MJF era is upon AEW.
While predictable as it gets, MJF’s ascension to AEW top dog on Saturday night at Full Gear with a win over Jon Moxley to become AEW world champion was executed to perfection.
MJF, ever the wily heel but getting cheered like a babyface, fulfilled his “promise” to not use his ring in a way that would help him cheat and win.
So he used some brass knuckles passed over by William Regal, won and away AEW goes into an inevitably prosperous era.
Right on time, too. After some recent drama surrounding the main-event scene and otherwise, beloved as he is, there was no way Moxley would walk out of Full Gear as champion yet again. If nothing else, the fans would revolt because the man needs a vacation.
Fittingly, the main event capped off what was easily AEW’s best pay-per-view of the year after a rocky year. The promotion has a chance to do a soft reset now and make things a little more simple for viewers in terms of number of names and storylines to track, plus has new headlining champions with Jamie Hayter and MJF.
But MJF is by far the most interesting point.
It wasn’t too long ago that fans had to fret over whether MJF might up and leave the company in the biggest bidding war in modern pro wrestling history. That seems like a long, long time ago and now all they have to worry about is which amazing storyline AEW might pluck down from an everlasting storyline tree and throw at them first.
How about Regal’s heel turn? That’s the death-knell for the BCC (Blackpool Combat Club), whose superstars besides the vacationing Moxley certainly can’t agree with the leader’s actions.
But there was a chef’s kiss bit of storytelling between Regal and MJF. After repeated warnings, Regal watched as MJF didn’t lean on a clutch like the ring. After finally doing so, Regal tossed him the brass knuckles anyway.
Maybe that’s reading a little too much into it, but it sure feels like we could be heading for a Paul Heyman-CM Punk sort of vibe with Regal and MJF.
At the end of the day, maybe a face turn for MJF never felt right anyway. Why turn the guy who is going to get endless cheers from fans anyway? We’re talking about the guy who got more cheers than CM Punk in Chicago. Let him play the “heel” while the fanbase plays along in a way that lets AEW also crown future babyface champions over the long-term.
For those doubting the still-heel approach, MJF made sure in a curse-filled rant at post-show presser to offer a reminder:
And that’s just the tip of cliché iceberg as far as directions. MJF will still have to deal with the fallout from his interactions with The Firm, a group he fired and then clashed with recently. They (thankfully for viewers) didn’t run-in on the main event, but there will be drama there to address.
Painting in even broader strokes, a new heel champion means fan favorites like Kenny Omega (back from an injury) and Adam “Hangman” Page (purgatory for a while now, in a few respects) can re-enter the main-event scene.
At some point, Moxley will return to seek out his revenge too and when he’s refreshed and absence has worked its magic on fans, MJF’s reactions and the encounters that follow will be glorious.
That is, unless Moxley for some reason doesn’t take that vacation and they draw this out. It could work quite well, although it’s unlikely.
Realistically, fans can understand that MJF is likely to hold the belt for a long, long time. While some tuned-in fans understand the contract drama likely isn’t a thing anymore, AEW would be foolish not to exploit that angle, too. Calling back to a certain CM Punk run in WWE that blurs the lines of reality would make for an unforgettable stretch.
But hey, with those landmarks surely in AEW’s future, it just loops back to an important lesson from Saturday night—predictable is very, very good when handled properly.
And without a doubt, this new MJF era for AEW will receive the proper handling. After all, it’s now MJF, who at 26 years old is already one of the best in pro wrestling, at the controls. If there’s anyone to steer the promotion back on track after a bumpy ride, if not take it to new heights in the process, it’s the man now clutching its world championship.