One of the biggest matches in AEW history may be in jeopardy.
Just 24 hours before MJF vs. Wardlow at AEW Double or Nothing, MJF reportedly no-showed an AEW Meet and Greet. MJF straight-up ghosted AEW, as his absence was not planned and nobody from the company was able to contact him. Though a flight was reportedly booked for MJF late Saturday night, as of this writing it is not known whether MJF boarded the plane.
MJF’s status for AEW Double or Nothing remains uncertain.
MJF’s no-show coincided with a surprising Samoa Joe no-show, though Samoa Joe’s situation was chalked up to a communication issue as the ROH Television champion was double-booked.
The latest drama surrounding MJF is yet another chapter in an increasingly ugly contract situation between MJF and AEW President Tony Khan. Always one to be in-character, Maxwell Jacob Friedman’s unwavering pursuit of blurring the lines has suddenly worked itself into a shoot. In an attempt to garner more heat as a heel on camera in AEW, MJF continuously reminds AEW’s tribal and overzealous fanbase of his real-life contract expiration, even coining the phrase “The Bidding War of 2024.”
Far removed from a microphone, a camera or a wrestling ring, however, that same contract situation has resulted in an apparent backstage blow-up.
Though it’s always difficult to draw the line between where MJF (the character) ends and where MJF (the person) begins, MJF had expressed frustration with AEW in recent weeks. MJF and Tony Khan reportedly had a heated discussion about MJF’s rogue appearance on the “Ariel Helwani Show,” where MJF continued to praise WWE and advertise his impending free agency.
Just days ago, MJF tweeted and deleted a response to Tony Khan, who was ironically discussing how “wrestling thrives when real-life meets onscreen.” MJF’s reply simply read “F—king lol. F—k this place man.”
In his pursuit to earn one of the biggest contracts in pro wrestling today, MJF is following cues from Sasha Banks, Naomi and countless pro athletes well before them. Holdouts for leverage, and players forcing their way out of contracts, is old hat in pro sports. But it’s a rarity in modern-day pro wrestling. But since the onset of AEW, which came with built-in leverage for this generation of wrestlers, more top stars in pro wrestling have been empowered to holdout, walkout and/or ball out in a rival company.
As this strange life-imitating-art odyssey continues to unfold, Wardlow—MJF’s opponent (?) at Double or Nothing—recently spoke out against MJF’s recent antics behind the scenes.
“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.”
AEW Double or Nothing 2022 airs Sunday, May 29, 2022 with a start time of 8:00 p.m. EST.