One of the fastest rising stars in professional wrestling today is Maxwell Jacob Friedman. Competing for All Elite Wrestling, MJF isn’t afraid to tell you to your face that he’s better than you. His outspoken attitude in and out of the ring resulted in him being named Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s Most Hated Wrestler of the Year for 2021.
A two-time winner of the Dynamite Diamond Ring, MJF is not lacking in confidence. Working with veterans like FTR and Tully Blanchard, Shawn Spears and the young and powerful Wardlow, The Pinnacle has taken over the company. Is there tension, however, between MJF and Wardlow? Regardless, MJF must focus all of his energy on CM Punk’s return in a feud that pits two top talkers against each other.
What does MJF think about Punk, Wardlow and himself? Sporting News caught up with the Long Island native, who didn’t pull any punches.
Sport News: A few years ago, you mentioned that you wanted to be a household name, and every time someone mentions the name MJF, they say, “he’s the best.” Are you there now?
MJF: Not only am I there, but the stats are there to prove it. I am one of the highest rated average not only in AEW Dynamite, but in all of professional wrestling. I am the biggest homegrown AEW star on Google Trends. Anyone who is not a former WWE member in the company, my name comes up. Not only do I feel like I’m a household name, at this point, I feel like a mega star.
I’m in the ring with guys like CM Punk and I’m verbally assassinating him. A guy that everyone claims he’s one of the greatest promoters of all time, I’m chewing him up and spitting him out. To answer his question, yes, absolutely yes.
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Serial number: Regarding your rivalry with CM Punk, do you think that Punk joining AEW means that he is trying to take your place?
MJF: I’d say he’s taking my place if he wasn’t running from me for the last three months. Other than that, at any rate, I have taken his place. I was supposed to come here and be the guy, and clearly I am. Is it a thorn in my side? Yes, but because, realistically, he should be world champion right now. Not just a one time world champion, a two time world champion because Dictator Jon (Moxley) He used an illegal stunt in our pay-per-view showdown. At this point, he should already be the AEW World Champion because idiots like you think he’s on my level.
Serial number: Don’t you think CM Punk is at your level?
MJF: No, not even close. Look back at the promotional battle we had which was the number one trending all over YouTube all over the world. Almost four million views. Tell me if it’s at my level. I thought so.
Serial number: They’ve fought each other on the microphone, but what about in the ring? How do you see a match between you two?
MJF: Punk is mean. Let’s be honest though, seven years without being in the ring is a long time. That’s a long time for anyone, I don’t care how good you are. Don’t get me wrong, punk is cool. I’m just better than him, and he knows it. Realistically, we’ve seen his games. With the exception of the match with Shawn Spears. By the way, if you want my honest opinion, I think Punk cheated. Spears wasn’t ready when he rang the bell, he was still waving at me. It has been very obvious that Punk has struggled to get a win in AEW. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is. I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t think I’ll have a prayer if we ever get in the ring together.
Serial number: During his time in AEW, he has had Wardlow by his side. Recently there has been some tension between the two of you. Any update on your relationship?
MJF: No tension. I am very proud of Wardlow and his success. Although, I think he needs to mention more than his success is due to me, but it’s okay. I put a house and a roof over not just Wardlow, but over the head of his entire family. I think Wardlow sometimes forgets that. He forgets that his checks are not signed by Tony Khan. His checks are not signed by fans. His checks are certainly not signed by CM Punk. They are signed by me. Sometimes I have to casually remind him, and that’s okay.
Serial number: You tweeted a message to Powerhouse Hobbs on his birthday. “Happy birthday to the best big man in AEW by a country mile.” By way of clarification, are you hinting at something, going back to Wardlow?
MJF: I’m not implying anything, just stating a fact. I think Powerhouse Hobbs is possibly the hottest prospect not only in All Elite Wrestling but in all of professional wrestling. I feel like he’s a credible athlete, I feel like he’s great on the stick, I think he looks amazing. People think that was shady at Wardlow. I don’t consider Wardlow a great man, I consider Wardlow a hybrid athlete. No shots, no throwing rocks at the Wardog, love me some Wardlow.
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Serial number: You formed The Pinnacle, which is full of veterans. Have they taught you any valuable lessons?
MJF: More than you can imagine. Dax and Cash have taught me that there is beauty and simplicity, bell to bell, in the ring. They have also explained to me how important it is to be tenacious and intense. You can flap your gums all you want, but if you can’t get the job done bell to bell, nothing else matters. You have to be violent there. He was pretty violent before he met them. I was taught many different techniques, especially how to cut a ring in half in a tag team match, and have been an individual competitor my entire career. I’ve learned quite a bit just tagging with Dax and Cash.
As far as Spears is concerned, Spears has taught me a lot about timing, lockdown etiquette, and she’s taught me how to make a great shot from the chair. All these guys have been great. Tully, she has told me many stories from her heyday and honestly has helped me understand this business even more. Truth be told, I was already a prodigy before I met all these men. The simple fact that I can pick his brain makes me very scared as a competitor. And that’s why The Pinnacle is always on top.
Serial number: Do you have any advice for your newbie self?
MJF: Don’t change a single thing, don’t listen to the old bosses. Everyone who gives you advice before you go to AEW is just trying to stop you. The number of people who told me I shouldn’t talk like I talk, walk like I walk, fight like I fight, who knew I was going to get over them, is absolutely insane. I’m better than all of you, and you know it.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.