AEW has quickly spun up for threats to MJF’s run as AEW World Championship and this ranking looks at who is the biggest challenge in his future.
Adam Cole’s injury threw a wrench into AEW’s plans for MJF’s title run. The champion was suddenly left without the engrossing storyline that was garnering attention and praise from fans, and even though he was heading into a big match, MJF did not feel truly threatened. In a few weeks, clear and direct booking has created four threats to MJF’s reign atop the company. With four men potentially standing in his way, this piece looks at each one of those individuals, ranking them from the least threatening, to the most threatening.
Threat Level 4: Kenny Omega
Yes, we get it. Kenny Omega is the foundation for all things AEW. MJF has continued to pester the former champion, letting him know that he’s getting closer and closer to passing Omega as the longest-reigning world champion to date. Omega should be interested in stopping him, he has a personal interest in the situation.
But Omega also has another issue on hand, and that is the Don Callis family. Particularly, Konosuke Takeshita. Omega has not been able to beat the young competitor yet. Takeshita has repeatedly pinned Omega and if anyone should be looking at a title shot because of those wins, it should be Takeshita. Perhaps he will make that clear if he’s the one to cost Omega an opportunity at MJF soon.
Threat Level 3: Samoa Joe
Samoa Joe is a bad, bad man. He’s held the Ring of Honor World Television Championship for 554 days and is enjoying one of the best runs of his career. At 44 years old, Joe is that veteran competitor that the entire division should be afraid to face. Not only is he dangerous in the ring, but he’s presented as a mob boss-like character outside of it, one that can put someone out of their misery at any moment. He’s a true highlight of what is possible in AEW.
But he’s already dropped a match to MJF. The two men met back at Grand Slam, and it was MJF who picked up the victory, surprising Joe by going to a level higher than his own brutality. Still, Joe has made it clear that while he respects the champion, he’s not done with him yet. It will be interesting to see how or if AEW puts him back into the title picture and how it will be different than the last go at it.
Threat Level 2: Wardlow
Wardlow makes the most sense. The two men have all their history from when Wardlow was MJF’s hired muscle, to their fallout back in 2022. But what is most important is what happened after that fallout came ahead right before and immediately after Double or Nothing 2022. Wardlow picked up the big win in less than eight minutes, but MJF remained the focal point in the headlines. Even as MJF remained off television and Wardlow went on to capture the TNT Championship, the latter remained in the shadow. Wardlow has suffered multiple stops and starts since, and this recent start should lead to a big title match.
It would be interesting to see how AEW presents this version of MJF versus this iteration of Wardlow. MJF is a “tweener” of sorts, versus Wardlow who is walking through the “heel” tunnel, but he’s nothing more than a person frustrated with his position in the company. This has the potential to be a compelling story from start to finish.
Threat Level 1: Jay White
Jay White is an interesting addition to this mix. The former IWGP Champion has shown that he can hang with the best, whether it comes to the pro wrestling or sports entertaining. White is a superstar and many wonder where he is in the AEW pecking order. With the Bang Bang Gang at his backing, he has the potential to be a major heel that can go with anyone in the ring.
But will he defeat MJF at Full Gear? Early expectations are “no,” as MJF is during an important title run for the company. While a victory for White would be a surprise, it doesn’t seem like that is in the cards. However, AEW needs some sort of shocking surprise to restart some of the momentum that has been lost since CM Punk’s release, and putting the belt on White would be just that.