WWE Hot Take: AEW's MJF Is the Remedy for Eventually Losing Roman Reigns

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistMay 14, 2022

All Elite Wrestling

It feels like pro wrestling has entered an era of free agency resembling something close to the NFL or NBA. 

So here's an idea: MJF departing All Elite Wrestling to headline in a WWE post-Roman Reigns

Maybe that's not such a wild idea, either. MJF, still just 26 years old, has always seemed like the AEW Superstar likeliest to dangle his very real contract situation into storylines in order to blur the lines between real and fake. 

Fightful's Sean Ross Sapp actually hit on this recently, reporting that MJF is "frustrated with his contract situation and is leaning towards not re-signing with AEW."

This might just be the first salvo in a public negotiation between the two sides, not unlike what NFL players go through when getting hit with a franchise tag. It will inevitably end up as an on-screen storyline, likely similar to what WWE has done in the past with the likes of CM Punk. 

If it is wise, WWE will have a very, very close eye on this, even if it doesn't really come to the forefront of feasibility for a few more years. That it's a discussion out in the open now sort of says it all though, right? 

To its credit, a report as far back as last December suggested WWE already has a focus on this saga: 

Maxwell Jacob Friedman™️ @The_MJF

The bidding war of 2024. https://t.co/jErUwIHUKq

And why not? MJF is arguably one of the top 10 things going in pro wrestling right now. He's stellar in the ring and even better when it comes on the mic and character work. That he's doing it under the age of 30 is a testament to his star power and a critical point of emphasis for a company like WWE that has had a brutal time building headliners. 

That all of this going down right as things get interesting for Reigns and WWE is pretty eyebrow-raising, to say the least. Reigns isn't advertised for WWE's next event or any dates in July or August amid speculation he could move into a reduced role, possibly to focus on things outside of wrestling. 

If that's the case, it's a big problem for WWE. The company has spent the last 400-plus days trying to cement him as one of the best ever in his heel persona. All of the major events like Royal Rumble led to him winning both men's titles, and barring a jaw-dropping change, he'll hold on to at least one of those titles until next year's WrestleMania, where he could fight The Rock in California. 

Which is to say WWE has a little more than a year to presumably build an eventual Reigns replacement as the guy before actually knocking Reigns down a peg. But there is little on the undercard—where wrestlers are unable to even compete for a main title right now—that looks appealing, and neither does much in the NXT landscape. That's especially true considering how the company has fumbled builds for other guys who looked destined for stardom from developmental. 

That loops us back to MJF, who could come in and get the AJ Styles treatment right away as a non-WWE guy who can shake up the main-event scene. If Cody Rhodes can come back and be a headlining threat right away, so can he. There's an angle where WWE, well, WWE-ifys him and tones down his promos, but he'd still stick out above most on the roster for his promo and character work (never mind the promos we'd love to see him cut on Rhodes if they both land over there). 

Granted, this is all hypothetical. In reality, it's nearly impossible to imagine AEW letting a talent like MJF get away. He has that once-every-10-years feel and, as such, is an invaluable foundational block for a company. But, in a funny sort of way, this inevitable fan speculation will only drive more interest to AEW and its storylines as MJF undoubtedly weaves this into his character and storylines. 

But it's also just a good example of where the wrestling business is right now and just what a great time it is to be a fan of the sport. AEW swiped plenty of departed WWE guys and even snagged the historic moment with Punk, while WWE finally got one back with Rhodes.

There are bound to be other guys who eventually swim against the tide like Rhodes. And for WWE, MJF is the biggest fish of all, pretty much without equal. Were they to land him before he even turns 30 years old, it would secure a company headliner for the next decade or more. 

Again, it's all hypothetical, but it's not a big secret WWE's headed for a critical turning point as Reigns gets set to turn 37 and the company can either grapple with attempting to build top guys or go throw weight around to bring aboard others. 

So often in pro wrestling these days, the out-of-ring happenings are just as entertaining, if not more so, than the in-ring and on-air stuff. The saga of MJF will exemplify this, with fans getting superb storylines in the process while WWE lurks in the background with a possible chance to right many wrongs with a big splash.