This week’s episode of AEW: Dynamite spent most of its two-hour runtime delivering some final hype for the Oct. 1 WrestleDream pay-per-view. On that show, AEW World Champion Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) will defend the Ring of Honor World Tag Team Championship on his own in a handicap match, but the telecast also hinted at what the double-champion could have to deal with in the near future.
Over the last few weeks, MJF has flourished as a babyface, successfully navigating a tricky performance as a white-meat protagonist while still sounding and acting like a distasteful heel.
As a result, the fans have embraced Friedman, but we’re about to find out just how reformed the “generational talent” is.
What did AEW set up for MJF?
Before Friedman and Cole addressed the live audience, footage aired of the “Brochachos for Life” taking a fishing trip on MJF’s dad’s boat in Long Island. While the two reeled in Captain Insano, Cole explained to Friedman the apparently complicated concept of having more than one friend, noting that his checking on Roderick Strong shouldn’t impact their relationship.
Even though MJF initially wanted to knock Cole out with the Dynamite Diamond Ring over this notion, those words got through to him. After Friedman announced that he would defend the ROH titles by himself against The Righteous, Strong rolled out (literally) with The Kingdom to plead for Cole’s help.
However, MJF expressed more understanding this time, saying that he respected that Cole has other important people in his life and let his pal do his thing.
Then, we got the long-awaited meeting between MJF and “Switchblade” Jey White, two elite heels (former, in Friedman’s case) who fans have long compared to one another. The verbal joust lived up to expectations; MJF gave his usual “The Reason You’re Mid” speech — even comparing White to tofu — but White more than held his own when he got his chance to speak.
It took a while to get there, but fans got the point: White is coming for the AEW World Title.
A program between MJF and White shows off the company’s obscene roster depth, and it gives the champion another quality heel to work opposite while he refines the babyface version of his character.
The bizarre whodunnit that AEW teased at the end of the show may help with that, too. After “Hangman” Adam Page and Swerve Strickland signed the contract for their WrestleDream match (a segment that is worth your time), the feed cut to a group of masked assailants attacking White, with one of them wearing the same mask that MJF donned when he returned to AEW at All Out 2022.
Clearly, this mystery angle is designed to make the audience (and the rest of the roster) question the legitimacy of Friedman’s change of heart. Of course, someone else will be revealed as the perpetrator (possibly Adam Cole and The Kingdom?), but in the meantime, we will see how MJF’s character reacts to this fresh batch of scrutiny.
Between that and the new challenger for his belt, the world champ has a lot on his plate.