Is MJF Better Off Sticking With AEW or Jumping to WWE?

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 20, 2022

Is MJF Better Off Sticking With AEW or Jumping to WWE?

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    Will MJF legitimately be aiming to exit AEW once his current contract expires in 2024? (Credit: All Elite Wrestling)

    In the absence of The Elite and CM Punk, MJF is undoubtedly the biggest and brightest star All Elite Wrestling currently has in its ranks.

    Jon Moxley, Bryan Danielson and Chris Jericho are tremendous talents, but all of them have already won world titles many times over. Despite having been with AEW since the start, MJF has yet to hold gold of any kind in the company—Dynamite Diamond Ring aside.

    It's almost egregious that MJF hasn't been able to call himself a champion up to this point, but at only 26 years old, he obviously has his entire career ahead of him.

    That's what will make what he has referred to as the "bidding war of 2024" all the more interesting. When his current contract expires at the onset of that year, he will be free and clear to negotiate with any other promotion, most notably WWE.

    Following his backstage blowup back in the spring that saw him nearly no-show his Double or Nothing match with Wardlow over not being paid what he felt he was worth, it seems there is at least a chance of him jumping ship.

    Would he be better off going to WWE come 2024 or staying put in AEW? Let's look at the factors that may influence his decision.

Being Used to His Full Potential

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    MJF taking exception to his pay is one thing, but his booking by and large has been fairly flawless.

    Within months of the company's launch, he was aligned with Cody Rhodes, who was positioned as the top babyface at the time. Following his betrayal of his "best friend," he embarked on an undefeated streak that included victories over Rhodes, Adam Page, Jungle Boy and others.

    Even once he finally suffered his first defeat at the hands of then-AEW world champion Jon Moxley at All Out 2020, Moxley had to cheat to get the job done. From there, MJF racked up plenty of more wins against Chris Jericho, CM Punk, Darby Allin and Sammy Guevara.

    He had his own bodyguard in Wardlow for nearly three years. He created his own faction in The Pinnacle who had his back. He's still in possession of the Dynamite Diamond Ring as well.

    As previously noted, it can absolutely be argued that he should have been world champ by now, but he has been handled exceptionally well. At the rate he's going, there can be no doubt he'll continue to be used to his full potential in AEW, whereas it's always more of a risk in WWE.

Ceiling for Success

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    It's more a matter of when than if MJF will be crowned AEW world champion.

    In a way, it's a blessing that AEW waited this long to give him a top title run. Had he won it early on in his run, there's a possibility he would have peaked too soon, making a jump to WWE far more feasible.

    That said, he could win the prestigious prize in the coming months, lose it by early 2023 and then spin his wheels for the remainder of the year before his contract comes due in 2024. With nothing left to accomplish, going to WWE would provide him with plenty of fresh opponents to work with and more accomplishments to strive for.

    His ceiling for success in WWE is high, especially if there are two world titles to fight for again by then. That would increase his chances of being a featured player at all times on either Raw and SmackDown and not being overlooked for opportunities in AEW.

    Needless to say, NXT should not be an available option. He'd be ready for Raw or SmackDown straight out of the gate and can be immediately positioned as an important player.

    MJF may have slightly more longevity with WWE with there being much more to do and less of a chance he'll be cast aside in favor of others.

Character and Creative Freedom

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    A major part of MJF's appeal as a character has been his creative freedom in AEW, specifically with how far he's allowed to push the envelope with his promos.

    It's safe to assume that approximately half of his material wouldn't fly in the opposition. Although WWE is willing to let some stuff slide in its PG-rated environment, MJF would almost have to be limited with what he'd be able to say.

    However, does that makes MJF any less of a master of the mic? The answer is no.

    Swearing and playing the role of wrestling shock jock isn't what defines MJF as a performer, nor would cutting that sort of stuff out of his act make him a "watered-down version of The Miz" as some fans may fear.

    If MJF is willing to take direction with a little less input than he has at the moment in AEW, then betting on himself with a run in WWE will be worth it. Triple H now being charge of the company's creative direction surely makes it a lot likelier he will be used properly and be portrayed as the MJF fans have come to know and love (or hate).

    AEW will be where he has the most control over his character, but the booking in either promotion will be what matters most.

Why It's All Contingent on Cody Rhodes and How He's Handled

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    Cody Rhodes helped solidify MJF as a star during their heated feud in early 2020, and now he could very well be the one to help him break into WWE and achieve even greater success.

    The American Nightmare is a guinea pig for AEW talent in many ways. When he left AEW on his own accord earlier this year and signed with WWE, Rhodes was treated like the top talent he is. That sends the message that anyone with upside can journey over to WWE and be booked just as well there as they were in AEW, if not better.

    That was exactly the case with Rhodes, who returned at WrestleMania 38 in spectacular fashion and had a stellar run in the two months that followed before suffering an injury. That was when Vince McMahon was still at the helm, and the product has drastically improved since Triple H replaced him as the head of creative.

    Rhodes is expected to be out for the remainder of the year but should be on track to win the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship from Roman Reigns upon his return. There's no way MJF looks at that and doesn't see WWE as an appealing option for himself.

    Granted, Rhodes has history in WWE and MJF doesn't, but Triple H would be foolish to not give it a grand effort to sign The Salt of the Earth and push him at a level similar to Rhodes.

Final Verdict

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    MJF will an extremely sought-after star if he enters free agency in 2024. (Credit: All Elite Wrestling)

    Of course, anything can change in the coming year that could play a pivotal role in MJF's decision in regards to where he wants to take his talents next.

    Based on wrestling's current landscape, he would be best suited for an extended stay in AEW.

    The promotion has grown exponentially in the time he's been there, and MJF has remained a prominent player through it all, including the arrivals of names far more established than he is. His next contract should be astronomical compared to whatever he's being paid now (assuming the deal hasn't drastically changed).

    MJF in WWE isn't as much of a risk as it would have been a year or two ago. Greatness would be virtually guaranteed, but he has the rest of his career to explore that option if he so chooses.

    Depending on what the roster looks like in 2024, MJF could and should be AEW's lead heel by then. A babyface run is also entirely plausible considering how popular he is with the audience and his ability to make that work.

    Tony Khan can't afford to lose such a promising prospect to the competition and thus should pull out all the stops to ensure he sticks with AEW. Unless a major falling-out occurs between the two sides, expect MJF to continue to be one of the featured faces of AEW through 2024 and beyond.

    Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.


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