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Opinion

Rob: Where Is MJF Going?

Work? Shoot? Babyface? Heel? WWE? AEW? Rob explores the future (and present?) of MJF!

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MJF AEW

Work? Shoot? Babyface? Heel? WWE? AEW? Rob explores the future (and present?) of MJF!

No I’m not talking about which wrestling company.  We all know that either Tony Khan comes up with the money to make him never entertain going to WWE again, or he doesn’t and Max ends up in Titan-land, if not in 2024 then at some later date.  I’m talking where this is going right now.  Because while his offscreen path had gotten much cloudier heading into Double or Nothing, that now seems to be pretty set while his onscreen path is now more of a mystery.  As for whether this is all a work or not, if it wasn’t a work before it is now.  Giving an insubordinate employee with seemingly one foot out the door a live mic on television, and advertising it ahead of time, is not something one does if this is a shoot.  But I do have a few questions now that things have gone to where they are now.

Who’s the babyface?  Who’s the heel?

Yes it matters, even in 2022.  Wrestling stories are better with defined good guys and bad guys, period end of story.  MJF has been a heel for years and was garnering some genuine disdain going into the Premium Live Event due to his complaining about his contract and his overtures towards the great Satan of AEW fans, the WWE.  It’s rare for heels to get that feeling nowadays because their acts have been neutered for a couple of reasons.  One is that the line crossing that old schools heels engaged in often ventured into racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and homophobic territory and needed to be curtailed.  The other is that wrestling companies found it worth their while to try and sell things for everyone on the roster good or evil and have leaned into making more of their villains good looking and personable away from the show.

Ultimately that takes some of the punch away from things because seeing the bad guys take all the pictures with kids backstage and all and having it blasted all over social media makes them a lot less despicable in the ways that drew a lot of money back in the day.  Now there’s a lot more ‘that guy/gal does a good job’ and lot less ‘I hate that guy/gal’. Unlike TV and movie characters pro wrestling’s more interactive presentation brings with it a need to generate some genuine disdain that may bleed over from the character towards the person playing them and that is in short supply in 2022.  MJF, by keeping kayfabe and being an obnoxious jerk every time he’s seen out in public, has managed to get some of that for himself without making it about backstage stories and what not.  And it was ramping up pretty heavy going into last weekend.

But in 10 minutes on the post-Double or Nothing episode of Dynamite that may have all been squandered.  MJF came out to boos, with the perception of him being the sports radio stereotypical greedy, ungrateful athlete still sticking after all the rumors and real stories of the weekend.  But then whether intentional or not he delivered a fiery promo that made him out to be the babyface in this situation.  He’d been toiling from day one of the company’s existence to make great things happen on TV while Tony Khan kept signing ex-WWE after ex-WWE guy (and eventually ex-WWE gals) and paying them more than the people who were there at the start and had built the place.  This of course is true and obvious to anyone paying attention, albeit a sore spot to mention to some fans.  (Let’s be real for a minute; the value of everyone who made it to WWE television is in their ability to get some people who saw them there to watch them in AEW so for all intents and purposes they are ex-WWE people regardless of where else they worked).

In 10 minutes MJF painted himself as the beleaguered, underpaid, undervalued employee who has over performed at every chance only to be overlooked by the boss as he gazes at the next shiny new toy.  And again there is a lot of truth here from what we know.  This would have the makings of an Austin-McMahon type of feud, except for a few problems.  One is that Tony Khan has presented himself as the babyface wrestling company owner, the guy who is much more like us fans (he was a message board and e-fed guy, y’all!) than corporations like Sinclair Broadcasting or the evil Vince McMahon.  Tony Khan has portrayed himself to be the owner who gives the fans the matches they want, with the finishes they want, and pushes the people that they want.  He gives the wrestlers the freedom to use their own creativity and not be stifled by him or a bunch of TV writers.  And he lets the wrestlers do it their way in the ring without telling them what moves they can and can’t do.

What about everyone else?

By pointing the finger at Khan and making him the antagonist they are potentially throwing away years of PR work on and offscreen by Khan to show us all that he’s not a heartless bastard like Vincent Kennedy McMahon. Khan has shown in the past that he does not take too well to criticism; is he ready for what may come of the perception of him changes?  But Vince really is evil offscreen!!  Go ask Jacksonville Jaguar fans or Fullham Football fans how much they love the management of one Tony Khan and ownership of the Khan family.  Khan has done a masterful job of persuading AEW fans that the Tony Khan who runs AEW is not the Tony Khan who runs those two other franchises; showing that they indeed are the same guy could backfire in a major way.  Mr. McMahon the character is one of the great wrestling heels of all time but the favoritism he shows onscreen has often been taken as a shoot and applied to anyone who it becomes known was a personal choice of his to do big things, and it overshadows even the most basic and elementary of booking decisions every week on WWE television.  Is Khan deft enough to not let his own image get taken there?

And what of all the ex WWE men and women there?  They have largely been treated as heroes by the AEW faithful and have been seen either as brave escapees from the WWE prison or victims of Vince’s inability to see what they brought to the table and Nick Khan’s budget axe.  MJF is floating the idea that they really aren’t that great after all and were just beneficiaries of Khan’s starry eyed gaze, which runs contrary to everything we have been told about them in the story of AEW.  If they continue down this path and MJF gets over as a babyface while Khan becomes the de facto heel what happens to those people he ran out to sign as soon as they were available?  Those people did ultimately send some of the AEW originals, men and women who came in with MJF and were sold to us as the people the evil corporation would not give a chance, into unemployment. In a world where the man who signed them is now a heel and whose decisions have been cast in a negative light, what do you call the people who profited from said decisions?

They are walking a very fine line here and going into territory that could change the landscape of the company forever.  Is Tony Khan ready to have all of his booking decisions questioned?  Is he ready for people to see some of his choices for, say, Britt Baker not as responding to the real reactions of his customers but playing personal favorites?  Is he ready for every finish, even those in filler matches on TV, to be examined for signs of bias?  Are the wrestlers who came in just looking for a new place to work without all that drama ready to enter a new world that looks a lot more like the one they came from?  Those are the big questions that need to be answered.  Those who are talented and savvy enough to navigate will find a way but the people who just came there to work are gonna have a much harder road to travel now.

Regardless of what happens the big winner is MJF.  Either he spins this into a full babyface run and becomes the unquestioned number one guy there, or he plays it into an 18 month sendoff to Titan land.  Either way he can’t lose here.  Tony Khan and his coworkers however, have to weigh much different possibilities and if they aren’t ready or willing then this could take a bad turn for all of them.


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Opinion

AJ’s Controversial? Wrestling Opinions 10.12.21

AJ feels like spouting off about a few wrestling topics that bug him. How controversial are they though?

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As Eric Bischoff, President of WCW once said, Controversy Creates Cash…no I’m serious; it’s even the title of a book that he did. Everyone has their hot takes on professional wrestling and some are always wide eyed and kind of shocking to some. There are some of us that will have same opinions or chastise me on a show or an article maybe but hey, don’t hate the player, hate The Game.

Maybe there are some that the readers at home agree with or you want to also be the one to chastise me, @PhenomenalAJB on Twitter. This one is going to be fun!

#1- There are more things than just WWE/AEW and are better majority of the time

There are many people that will rant, rave and complain that the mainstream product is so bland and boring and the classic, “Who even watches this trash?” Whether you love the flippy dippy do’s like I don’t or long drawn out storylines that peter out very quickly because fans aren’t invested in a story or character. To those people, I will say something very bold, very confusing and very… very controversial…

THERE ARE OTHER COMPANIES YOU CAN WATCH ON VARIOUS PLATFORMS IN VARIOUS MEANS ON YOUR OWN TIME!

I don’t know how and I don’t know why that this is even a topic. “TNA has been dead for years” No it hasn’t. Pay $1 USD for Impact Plus on YouTube so you can watch it without commercials at 8:30 Eastern. “Two hours is too long!” NWA and MLW both go for an hour on their respective YouTube Channels as well and if you want to watch, you can hop in at any time. Everyone has something for everyone and you might find your new favorite wrestler in a matter of minutes into an episode. I would never have known who Eli Drake (now LA Knight on SmackDown Live), Alexander Hammerstone or even in the early stages of TNA Impact, AJ Styles, was! You can watch more than what is broadcasted on your TV. Is it easier? Of course but, there is so much more than just the popular option.


#2- Belt Collecting now is just redundant and moronic

Back in 1996, Ultimo Dragon famously has a picture of him holding TEN championships looking like an amazing superstar with amazing defenses. What people don’t know is, that was because eight championship belts were united in a tournament called “The J-Crown Championship” with the adage of ‘All or Nothing’. He lost them one by one but, it was to show that he was the best Junior Heavyweight (or Cruiserweight/Light Heavyweight) out of everyone in various promotions.

People after that really haven’t belt collected other than unifying championships to a grand caliber… then Austin Aries showed up. Aries kind of revised the gimmick and brought it back to light. Newer fans might have thought this was cool but older fans kind of groaned and grumbled. I was one of them but, nothing is original in anything anymore so it’s a fresher concept at the time back in 2018. He did surpass Ultimo with ELEVEN championships but it seemed everyone started doing it to an extent after. Matt Cardona, after being released from WWE, started doing it, getting up to six championships before dropping them. As of right now, not necessarily solo belt collecting, The Bloodline has a stranglehold of the World Championships for both Singles and Tag Teams, we had Becky Two Belts, Bayley wanted Dos Straps but nothing makes this worse than Kenny Omega’s stint as a belt collector.

I am not and will never be a Kenny Omega fan. I don’t see the appeal, I don’t see the amazement or anything like that out of him. I’m impressed he did three 35+ Minute IWGP Championship matches against Okada because that takes a lot of stamina to do so but, that’s about it. When he won the AEW Championship, alright. That’s fine. Nothing wrong with that since he helped build the company up. The Triple A Megas Championship… nothing too wrong here. I hate that he had five defenses in two years but he vacated it due to his injuries. It wasn’t until Don Callis and Omega popped into Impact and made the Hogan Era of TNA look like a dream… okay ALMOST but still. Kenny defeats Rich Swann and Moose in two different matches and has everyone else carry the belts while holding the AEW Championship. I understand heel tactics and mentality but at one point in an interview about going for the Impact Championship, he compared it to a common Comic Book and the AEW Championship as Superman Issue #1. I understand trying to be a heel in this story but you boost your clout, not rain on what you are going after. Heel or Face, belt collecting has just been a cluster within itself in the past four years and it honestly needs to stop.

#3- Overuse of Certain Moves

This one is a more recent problem that I have seen and no, I wish EC3 paid me to say this but it is true and very annoying to even bring up but here I am, wishing for Carter money and a fifth Rum & Coke…

Stop. Overusing. Moves. Because you think. They were cool.

If I had a shot for every time a Canadian Destroyer, Superkick, Suicide Dive, Avalanche (Insert High Spot here), Dual Dropkick spots where they cancel each other out or opposing members do back to back high spots on the prone partner spot… I would not have written this article due to death… even if it was water, I would have died due to drowning. They don’t look cool anymore when everyone does it. It’s bland. When Petey Williams wrestled in his last return to Impact, the Destroyer looked very… stale. Superkicks are the new DDT apparently (another Finisher turned common everyday move) and most people that do dives mess it up in some way shape or form whether it’s their feet get caught in the ropes, they didn’t get a full launch or they overshoot it. Having your own move special to you is difficult now but different wrestlers do their own styles or the pay homage to a family member or a wrestler that they interact with or ask permission… or asked to stop.

How’d you feel if you watched WCW and WWF in 1997 and saw DDP do the Diamond Cutter and HHH did the Pedigree Pandemonium and say they do the same move? That is exactly what happened too if Dallas didn’t ask Hunter to stop using it. We might not have the RKO out of nowhere or an iconic move that seldom bigger names use today.


That’s my list. I said before if you agree with my list and if you don’t and want to throw hate my way… @PCTunney is the hate mail account so enjoy!


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Opinion

AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns

With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

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With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.

With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.

1. Johnny Gargano

Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?

WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen  the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.

2. James Storm

This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.

Watch your Money and your Alcohol.

Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”

3. Big Cass



Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.

Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.

4. Bronson Reed



The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.

Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?

5. Bray Wyatt

And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.

To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.

– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!


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