MJF reveals what he was doing while he was away from AEW

MJF kisses his pinky ring (photo courtesy of AEW)
MJF kisses his pinky ring (photo courtesy of AEW) /

On Monday, Maxwell Jacob Friedman was a guest on The MMA Hour. He quickly did what he does best: blur the lines between reality and a work.

Ariel Helwani asked him if what happened in March “was real”. Friedman was on the show and reportedly didn’t clear it with AEW’s PR first, which caused a lot of friction. Friedman replied, “everything about me is real.”

What’s changed since May for MJF

When Helwani continued and mentioned reports, MJF said, “now we’re talking about rumor and innuendo. So much like my personal, very good friend, Bruce Prichard, I don’t deal in rumor and innuendo. That’s not my thing. I don’t do it. Now if you ask me questions about me, myself, things, I will you give you flat out answers. Now, did PR get a little upset I didn’t clear it with them? Yes. Does PR now have absolutely no choice but to salivate at the fact that MJF is leaving his house to do an interview in regards to Arthur Ashe? Yes. Because things have changed a little bit.” When asked what’s changed, MJF declared that the “ball is in my court.”

Helwani asked what that meant. “I’m one of the biggest ratings, not just in AEW, but in professional wrestling, minute for minute. If you don’t believe me, hit up Brandon Thurston. He’s a great guy and puts up a lot of great information. (…) so what has changed is this: I came back, Tony Khan had no choice but to understand and to deal with the fact that if you want MJF on your show, you’ve gotta abide by MJF Rules. And it’s that simple. MJF wanted to be on the Ariel Helwani show today, MJF’s on the Ariel Helwani show.” When Helwani asked if there was any resistance, MJF said they’re terrified of him. “I do what I want to do when I want to do it because they really want to keep me around.”

MJF’s AEW contract status

The “Bidding War of 2024” will commence on January 1, 2024 per “The Salt of the Earth”. “Now, I just may get my hands on one of the most prestigious titles in all of professional wrestling. But not also just incredible championship, what can be utilized as a bargaining chip.”

Helwani referenced the infamous Madusa spot where she showed up on WCW television and threw her WWF title in the trash. “Listen man, what happens happens. Here’s the deal; a lot of people think I’m leaning towards one place or the other. Here’s what I’m leaning towards (rubs fingers together to imply money). That’s all I care about. That’s what I live for. So, I live and die by that little green. So, I go where the money’s at, whoever is going to offer me the most amount of money is where I’ll go. Hell, if there’s some financial backer out there that wants to start his own wrestling company and wants to use me as his figurehead, that’s where I’ll go. All I care about is money.”

MJF is asked if he came back with a new deal. “I most certainly did with no contract extension because once again I love Tony Khan to death, but I kind of got the man by the balls okay, as I’m a draw and I’m only 26.”

Helwani tried to confirm if there was really a plane ticket for him, but MJF stopped him because it’s “rumor and innuendo”. Helwani wanted the information directly from the source and asked him again if there was a plane ticket. MJF replied that he can’t confirm or deny. “What I will say is this; I’m a businessman. I do what I have to do in order to ensure what I need gets done. It got done. I’m back. I’m making a stupid, absurd amount of money now and I didn’t have to sign a contract extension.”

MJF’s relationship with Tony Khan

When asked where he was during his sabbatical, Friedman said he’d “be completely honest.” “When I went home, I made it clear to Tony Khan. I said, ‘pay up, or Daddy doesn’t show up.’ Fact. So, I took my now beautiful fiancé with me to Greece for two weeks. We went to Mikonos, Santorini, Athens, and then on the last three days of the trip, we went to Venice in Italy. I then went home and I stayed home. I did not leave my home because I did not want one single solitary fan to see me out in the wild. Do you know why? Because they don’t deserve to see me unless I’m getting paid to be seen. That’s why the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist because that’s exactly what I did for three months. I take what I do very seriously. If you want to see a star, pay to see that star. So, I stayed in my home. I went to a gym inside of my home. I did not leave my home. The only time I left my home was for those two weeks because I was committed to making sure that if any wrestling fan wanted to get a taste of MJF, MJF needed to get that money. And he did.”

He confirmed “I got a stupid bump in pay. Stupid.” AEW wanted him to sign an extension. He didn’t because “right now, I am the Number 1 contender to the AEW World title. If I win that World title–which yeah, I will. Trust me, I will–what is more bargaining power in the world than having the most important championship in your hands? There’s none. So when January 1st rolls around, like I said, the devil goes to the highest bidder.”

At the time of his “oratory exhibition” in Inglewood where he called his boss a (expletive) mark, their relationship was “not great.” Their relationship now is “great” because of “money.” “I’m a simple man. Look, I go out there and all I do is win. I’m winning in the ring, I’m winning on the mic. I’m constantly winning. Obviously, I had no problem with how I was being showcased. That wasn’t the issue. The issue was money. I was looking to my left and my right and I was hearing rumbles about  what guys were making when I was two times, three times the draw they were minute by minute. I’ve seen the analytics. That doesn’t work for me. I’m MJ-freakin’-F. Pay up.”

He says it was guys in AEW, WWE, and Ring of Honor “at the time”. After seeing what others were making all across the board (“except New Japan, that’s a garbage promotion”), he thought he deserved more.

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This was Friedman’s first interview since his return to AEW. He was seemingly forthcoming about what led up to his departure and why he returned. MJF is phenomenal at what he does and at times, it’s hard to decipher when he’s in character and when he’s being honest (even when he says he’s being honest). That’s part of what makes him such a draw.

He has increased his leverage and his worth by having a casino chip that he can cash in at any time. When he’s champion, he’ll have even more leverage. Whether you love him or hate him, you can’t deny him. AEW is certainly more interesting when MJF is around, whether its with a mic in his hand, wrestling a match, or on Twitter.