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.
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?
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!
King’s Greatest Hits Of Jeff Hardy
As he battles his demons, Chris King looks at some more positive moments in Jeff Hardy’s career!
I’m sure by now you’ve heard the disturbing news that former WWE superstar and recent AEW signee Jeff Hardy, was arrested again for multiple charges including a DUI. Hardy has had a hard and tragic road of recovery throughout the years in multiple wrestling promotions.
Not too long ago, Hardy walked out on WWE after they were rumored to have offered the former world champion to go to treatment for his substance abuse issues. Hardy refused and said that he was better but, as we saw the demons are still lurking and got the best of him again.
I have seen some nasty comments and even some distasteful memes about the AEW superstar and felt compelled to go against the grain. Instead of kicking a man when he’s down, I’m going to put together a greatest hits for the “Charismatic Enigma.”
Jeff Hardy & The TLC Match
Everyone can say that Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon helped innovate the iconic ladder match and you are right, but Jeff Hardy and his death-defying stunts changed the concept of the match forever. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian and their iconic TLC match should have their wing in the Hall of Fame. The risks all six superstars took for the adoration of the crowd could have ended all of their illustrious careers. In the words of Vince McMahon, It’s such good shit!
Jeff Hardy Earns The Undertaker’s Respect
On the July 1st, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw, Hardy delivered the performance of a lifetime nearly winning the WWE Undisputed Championship from The Undertaker in an incredible ladder match. The young up-and-comer was faced with his greatest task yet, challenging for the most prestigious title in sports entertainment. Hardy showed that without a shadow of a doubt he deserved to be in the main event scene, but came within minutes of defeating Taker. At the time of the match, Hardy was still finding his footing as a singles competitor and earned the respect of the champion and legend.
Swanton Bomb From The Heavens
When I think of the daredevil Jeff Hardy, I can’t help but think of this one crazy-as-hell stunt. At WWE One Night Stand 2008, Hardy faced off against the juggernaut Umaga in a falls count anywhere match. This match was so insane as both superstars fought into the parking lot. Hardy is one of the craziest and bravest superstars, hit a Swanton Bomb off a damn stage truck onto Umaga. It’s one of the wildest things you’ll ever see.
Hardy Wins The WWE Championship
In 2008, Hardy finally made his way to the main event title picture alongside partner Triple H. HHH was Hardy’s mentor in some sort of way which led to the daredevil achieving his lifelong dream of becoming WWE champion. At the 2008 Armageddon pay-per-view, Hardy would face HHH and longtime rival Edge in a triple-threat match for the title. In what was a great match between all three superstars, Hardy delivered a Swanton Bomb to Edge to win the illustrious championship.
Straight Edge Problems For Hardy
The following year, Hardy found himself in the way of young-up-and-comer CM Punk who is looking to make an example out of him. Punk had won the Money in the Bank briefcase for the second year in a row and took advantage of Hardy to win the world title. What started as mutual respect between both superstars changed drastically, when Punk started throwing jabs at Hardy for his drug and substance abuse real-life issues. Punk would form his infamous stable known as the Straight Edge Society. This is a very underrated feud and you should go back and watch it in its entirety. The promos are gold.
The Hardy Boyz Return To WWE
Both Matt and Jeff Hardy found success in multiple other wrestling promotions including Ring of Honor, and TNA during their time away from WWE. Both brothers were struggling with their vices and made poor life choices but straightened up their act over the years. In 2017, the Hardy Boyz would face longtime rivals The Young Bucks in ROH. The following night the adored tag team would make their incredible return to WWE at WrestleMania 33. Matt and Jeff would be named the final team in the Fatal 4-way ladder match for the Raw Tag Team Championships. The pop these two received was insane and very much deserved. They would go on to win the match and win the titles to capitalize on their momentum.
Jeffery Nero Hardy Makes AEW Debut
From 2017-to 2022 Jeff Hardy would find himself pigeonholed in the mid-card title picture. He would have feuds with a plethora of superstars including Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton. Orton and Hardy had a nasty Hell in a Cell match back in 2018. Earlier this year, Hardy was seen running around after the 24/7 Championship, which was disappointing to see. After being genuinely unhappy in WWE, Hardy would make his AEW debut on the March 9th episode of AEW Dynamite. Hardy would come to the aid of his brother and longtime partner.
This week news broke that Hardy had been arrested for multiple charges including a DUI. While it’s easy to beat a man while he’s down, how about we uplift and try to encourage him to get the help he needs.
As a longtime wrestling fan, I have the utmost respect for Hardy and wish him the best of luck in his battle with addiction.
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