AEW needs MJF to return

AEW's numbers aren't where they once were and the company needs its biggest star to return.
MJF Jan.jpg
MJF Jan.jpg /

AEW’s stacked roster remains a talking point. The company has some of the best performers in the world and continues to look for the biggest free agents available, while some original members of the roster struggle to find space. However, there’s one original member who may be making a return soon and will take back the spotlight. In fact, AEW needs MJF to come back sooner, rather than later, because he commands a sense of attention that the company has struggled to hold throughout 2024.

Toward the end of 2023, MJF was ending his run as champion. As injuries mounted, fans were turning against his time at the top. Each week, entire shows were booked around him, which many understood as he held that title for more than a year. No one batted an eye at him being involved in three segments a night. Swerve Strickland is the current champion, and he doesn’t get similar treatment, but that’s another discussion for another day.

When MJF dropped the championship to Samoa Joe, AEW shifted back to the sports-focused presentation of professional wrestling and fans rejoiced. But they weren’t watching. At least not as much as television ratings and show attendance have dropped across all AEW’s weekly products. There are several theories about why that’s happening. WWE Hall of Famer and AEW Commentator, Jim Ross points toward the need for AEW to develop stars who will draw the attention of fans. While AEW boasts some of the best wrestlers in the world, it doesn’t have the stars that generate television views. Mercedes Mone came in with that aura around her, but even her presence hasn’t translated to the same impact she had in other places.

This is where MJF comes into play. The controversial figure generates headlines and is the closest to a home-grown crossover star that AEW has developed to date. If he returns and returns in a big way it’s sure to push the numbers up for AEW in a measurable way.

There are questions about how he fits on the roster today. AEW claims to lean heavily into the sport aspect of professional wrestling, but the company loves its sports entertainment. Much of the main booking for Double or Nothing is more of the latter than the former. MJF is certainly a sports entertainer and will the fans that want a sports presentation be ready to welcome him and his style of booking back to the show, at the top of the card? That’s yet another question that will surely generate ratings to see the answer.

Fightful Select reported on Thursday that MJF “could be nearing a return.” The report even went as far as to say that Forbidden Door in New York is an expected date for some. AEW needs a shot in the arm and MJF brings just that. But this will be a true test of not only him, but AEW’s commitment ot being something uniquely different than the sports entertainment company that’s WWE.