Wardlow defeated MJF with 10 power bombs at AEW Double or Nothing 2022. After a brief cat-and-mouse exchange, Wardlow took control as he power bombed MJF into oblivion in a one-sided match.
MJF vs. Wardlow kicked off AEW Double or Nothing 2022 as Maxwell Jacob Friedman’s music played to start the show. Friedman walked out to a loud chorus of boos from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. In addition to boos, AEW’s tribal fanbase loudly chanted “assh—e!” “f—k you, MJF,” and “you f—ked up!” among other chants.
After MJF walked out on AEW on Saturday night, Wardlow’s finest hour threatened to turn into his darkest day as a match over two years in the making was placed in jeopardy. Though the situation was looking dire, MJF vs. Wardlow went on as planned, and the match had even more heat due to the real-life storylines behind it.
Wardlow endeared himself to fans as MJF’s muscle over a deliberate, two-year period where tensions between the longtime pair rose incrementally. AEW finally ramped up the MJF vs. Wardlow feud in recent months, with Wardlow assisting CM Punk in a win over the top heel at AEW Revolution on March 6. Borrowing a page from Goldberg, Wardlow has been accompanied to the ring by security the last several weeks, as part of MJF’s (storyline) mandate. After a vengeful MJF nixed Wardlow’s entrance music, Wardlow was serenaded by Goldberg-like chants of “Wardlow” for a handful of weeks leading up to AEW Double or Nothing.
After overcoming several obstacles, and getting over as a top babyface in the process, Wardlow’s time is now.
Amid all the storylines surrounding MJF, Tony Khan and even WWE, Wardlow was the most sympathetic figure when the smoke cleared. Among all the speculation about what AEW was going to do if MJF no-showed AEW Double or Nothing 2022, some of the more popular options was to potentially insert Wardlow in the AEW world championship main event between Hangman Adam Page and CM Punk.
In what may have been tongue-in-cheek (but who knows anymore given how real this MJF situation has become), Wardlow was very vocal MJF’s holdout and threats to go to WWE.
“I don’t know if that is good business what he’s doing,” Wardlow told the The New York Post.
“Honestly, that might be the one thing I can say is bad business for Max. That goes back to who he is as a person. AEW has given Max a platform to become what he’s become, so to go on Twitter and do these interviews and just blatantly slap AEW in the face by saying ‘I’m going to WWE in 2024’ was absolute bulls—t.”
Wardlow’s slow-burning push mirrors that of Batista, who became WWE’s top star of a generation by going from henchman to champion. After beating Triple H in the main event of WrestleMania 21, Batista became a made man who (temporarily) punched his ticket to the WWE Hall of Fame.
“The crazy thing [is] that we did without even realizing it,” Wardlow told CBS Sports ahead of AEW Double or Nothing.
“We kind of mirrored it in a way. It was very different, but also the same. The crazy thing is this wasn’t my idea. I didn’t have any say so in this. It just organically happened. My career just seems to be mimicking a little bit of a Batista’s. You can compare The Pinnacle to Evolution and you can compare myself and Max to Triple H [and] Batista. It has really unfolded very similar to how that did. It’s a real special thing because we didn’t plan it that way.”
Wardlow’s Batista moment seemed destined for tonight, but in a matter of hours, the biggest win of his career went from a shoo-in an uncertainty.
In the end, the match went off with a hitch as Wardlow finally receive his career victory over MJF. It’s worth noting MJF was stretchered out as fans chanted “you deserve it!” The MJF stretcher job could be a tactic to write him off television amid backstage tensions with AEW.