Three Names That Should Be Considered to Dethrone MJF


As the reign of MJF as AEW World Champion marches on, so does the guessing game of who might be the one to dethrone him.

Friedman’s title run started in the way that most would have anticipated.  The company’s top heel, doing whatever he has to do and stepping on whoever he has to step on to remain at the top of the mountain.

But several weeks ago, MJF’s stint as AEW World Champion took an unexpected turn, when he used an uncomfortable pairing in the blind eliminator tag team tournament with rival Adam Cole, and parlayed that into an unexpected face turn.  This turn also earned the self-proclaimed “Devil” a new best friend which ultimately culminated with Friedman and Cole winning the Ring of Honor Tag Team Titles at All In.

Given the history of both Cole and MJF, most feel that at some point, one of them will turn on the other, leading to another match between them, and ultimately Adam Cole will be the one to take the AEW World Championship from his one-time best friend.

And while that scenario may very well come to fruition there are a number of other stars on the AEW roster that should also be considered.

Here are three other names that should be mentioned when considering who should dethrone MJF as AEW World Champion.


Malakai Black

Wrestling, in more ways than one, is about timing.   And since forming the House of Black there has not been a better time for a singles push for Malakai Black.

Since dropping the AEW Trios Titles at All In, all of the members of the House of Black are freed up to do a number of different things creatively.  But what makes the most sense is for Brody King and Buddy Murphy to put on a series of top-notch matches on AEW Collision against FTR for the AEW Tag Team Titles.  Meanwhile, Malakai Black can wait in the shadows for MJF to dispatch the winner of the ongoing world title eliminator tournament, most likely Samoa Joe, at the AEW Grand Slam before announcing himself as the champ’s next challenger.

It has been a very long time since we have seen Malakai Black compete as a singles competitor in AEW.  And it gets harder and harder to remember as the years pass, but in Black’s debut in AEW and his subsequent feud with Cody Rhodes, he was extremely over with the crowd.  A push up the card in a singles feud could reignite that passion that AEW crowds had for Black upon his arrival.

While the House of Black has been a force in the trios’ division, Malakai is not able to showcase his total skill set when sharing the ring with five other competitors on any given night.  The time has come to showcase this unique talent, and the AEW WrestleDream main event seems like the place to do so.

Swerve Strickland

If you are not sold on Swerve Strickland’s potential to be one of the top heels in AEW for a very long time then you simply have not been paying attention to the man’s work in 2023.  Strickland has worked his way up the card in AEW by aligning himself with a stable of monsters, putting on great matches, and playing the heel persona to a tee.

All of Strickland’s hard work paid off on the most recent episode of AEW Dynamite when he and perennial top-of-the-card fan favorite, “Hangman” Adam Page, started to lay the framework for an upcoming feud.

This feud is pivotal to Swerve’s immediate future.

If “Hangman” goes over here, it does nothing positive for either man.  Page will stay as a face that can be thrown into any top of the card program and Swerve will stay on the upper mid-card, where he has thrived, but he is capable of so much more.

However, if Strickland is booked to go over on Adam Page, that elevates Swerve as a top heel in the company, and a very credible threat to the MJF and his title.  A threat that Tony Khan should seriously consider making the next AEW World Champion.

TOKYO, JAPAN – JUNE 03: Jay White enters the ring during the New Japan Pro-Wrestling – Best Of The Super Jr. 29 at Nippon Budokan on June 03, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN – JUNE 03: Jay White enters the ring during the New Japan Pro-Wrestling – Best Of The Super Jr. 29 at Nippon Budokan on June 03, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images) /

Jay White

Like Malakai Black, Jay White has spent the majority of his time in AEW working in different combinations of tag team matches.  While his work alongside Juice Robinson and the Gunns as Bullet Club Gold has been a lot of fun, and even given us a legitimate contender for match of the year in the classic two out of three falls match with FTR, the time is nearing for White to get a bit selfish and pursue some singles gold in AEW.

This works in the immediate future because White breaking off to pursue the AEW World Championship does not halt the momentum of Juice Robinson and the Gunns.  There is a built-in story for that trio to go after the AEW Trios Champs, The Acclaimed, and Colton and Austin’s father, Billy Gunn.

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Jay White is one of the best wrestlers in the world, and a main event at Full Gear featuring White and MJF is one that should be intriguing enough to generate a lot of pay-per-view buys.  Especially with 2024 and that bidding war we have heard so much about looming right around the corner.   The talent that White possesses could generate some real doubt about who might walk out of Full Gear the AEW World Champion.