I Miss The Old MJF In AEW

Let me preface this by telling you that I do not “dislike” MJF’s current baby face run. Everything I am about to write is based on my personal preference. This is simply my humble opinion. Make no mistake, Max is killing this title run. The fans adore him and he has solidified himself as one of the best performers in the history of professional wrestling. Still, I just feel like something is missing from the current AEW product.

I miss the old MJF. I miss the “real scumbag.’

We have very few real heels left in professional wrestling and it’s been that way for awhile now. MJF was unquestionably the best we have seen in decades and the only talent seemingly playing his role 24-7. On the show, in public or on social media, MJF was always MJF. We’ve come a long way from throwing mixed drinks at children and ripping co-workers on Twitter. The best version of MJF just so happens to also be the worst.

It is also my personal belief that AEW as a whole is better with bad guy MJF on the roster. You need credible heels to make your babyfaces. Without MJF, who else on this roster does the AEW audience actually dislike? Swerve is portrayed as a heel in storyline, but the fans can’t get enough of him. He’s one of the most over guys on the roster. Don Callis gets some real heat, but he’s not an active wrestler. I’ve been told the BCC are a heel faction, but two of the most beloved guys in the company are the guys leading the group.

The most important piece of professional wrestling is the emotional connection made between the fans and the action taking place in the ring. A lot of this emotional investment for the audience comes from a desire to see good triumph over evil. People love seeing justice paid off in real time. This is the epitome of what pro wrestling is.

If an audience doesn’t have someone to hate and actively root against, what are the real stakes? You can shine up a feud real nice with a title belt, but that isn’t connecting emotionally with someone watching the show. AEW now, more than ever before needs that very fundamental piece of the puzzle. This is what the old MJF provides and is currently missing from the product.

I was a huge fan of the bromance angle with Adam Cole that kicked this whole babyface turn off. I thought they were doing a brilliant job showing the internal struggle that Max was going through. They pushed the right buttons at the right times, culminating with the main event at Wembley Stadium.  The “tweener” MJF we had at this point was undeniably at the top of his game. However, it felt like the story eroded quickly into “pop the boys” segment week after week with the Roderick Strong stuff and a good chunk of the audience grew tired of the shenanigans.

I like where the story has been heading the past few weeks, so I  remain patient. “The Devil’s” reveal will be a true indicator of how far this storyline has come.

Truth be told, Maxwell Jacob Friedman transcends the heel/Babyface personas that have been a fixture of pro wrestling since it’s inception. He is capable of much more than what is possible within the confines of the squared circle. That being said, his legacy is built on the back of his phenomenal ability to play the scum bag and give the audience someone they love to hate.

I miss the old MJF, and I hope we see him again soon.