I Have Some Things to Say, Please Read

Courtesy AEW

I don’t usually do stuff like this but I have sh*t to get off my chest.

I’m wrestling Samoa Joe for the world title on Saturday night, and I have no idea what’s going to happen after that. You’ll probably hear some stories about me over the next few days, about my contract, about the injuries I’ve been dealing with, about the condition my body is in, about who knows what else. I’m sure it’ll all leak. That’s fine.

But AEW turns FIVE on Monday — January 1st, 2024. And that f*cking means something to me. And since everything beyond Saturday feels so uncertain, I want to share my thoughts on it now. I want our fans to hear from me ahead of whatever comes next.


There’s a reason that “workers rights” get brought up so often in conversations around AEW: It’s because we have a lot goddamn more of them now. This sh*t isn’t rocket science. Competition = bad for management, good for labor. There used to be one major American wrestling company, now there’s two. That f*cking matters. It matters for the wrestlers who work here, since we all have jobs that literally didn’t exist five years ago. But it also matters for the wrestlers who don’t work here. For everyone in WWE, AEW means not having to work in monopoly conditions. It means more options, which means more leverage, which means more money. (And I’ll take a wild guess and say better treatment.) And for wrestlers outside those two companies, AEW matters not just because it exists, but because of how it exists. Listen … if you google me, I think it says I’m 5'11" — but we all know that’s horsesh*t. I’m like 5'8", guys. And this is a place where, simply put, a 5'8" Jew can be world champ. If you know wrestling history then you know that’s a big deal and why.

So while I welcome anyone being critical of AEW (God knows I am)..... if you’re actually actively rooting against us? Against us EXISTING? Guess what, you’re the f*cking worst. You’re rooting against workers. And that’s the truth. Because out of all the incredible things that AEW has done over these last five years, #1 with a bullet is “put MJF on TV.” But #2 is “make the wrestling industry just a little bit better to work in.”


Cody took a chance on me and put me on the card at All In. Then Tony took a chance on me and signed me to AEW full-time. But let’s not kid ourselves: I was pretty much brought in to be the guy you disliked — who didn’t stand a chance against the guys you loved. You know those wrestling moments we all grew up on, where some legend comes out to talk to the crowd, but then a younger guy interrupts them, is an asshole, and eats a fist to the face? I think that’s what they saw me as when we started. Just look at Double or Nothing 2019, our first-ever PPV. They had Bret Hart come out to unveil the AEW World Title. They had Hangman Page come out to get Bret’s co-sign and look cool. Me??? I said a few words, got booed, and took a punch. I wasn’t looked at as being a potential top guy. 

Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC via Getty

But I’ll never forget the moment before I went out there. I mean, picture it: I’m 21, barely a few years into the business, and I’m being told to cut a promo on Bret Freaking Hitman Hart. Over 10,000 people in the arena, something like 100,000 watching on PPV. So before I walk out, I ask Tony and those guys what feels like a pretty f*cking good question: “Ummm…... what do I say??” And they just look at me for a second with these blank-ass stares. And they’re like, “........what do you mean? You know how to talk.” That’s when I realized what AEW was going to be like — and that it’s where I was meant to wrestle. Because, yeah, O.K., they brought me in as fodder. Tough luck. But they also gave me a chance to make my own luck. You know what I mean? Like — they threw me into the deep end, floaties off, and said sink or swim. Get over with our fans or don’t. And I’ll take that any day compared to the other way it’s been done in our business, historically, which is: they place you gently in the shallow end, floaties on, no actually you can’t take them off (it’s a rule), also you never get over because you look f*cking ridiculous with floaties on, but you don’t sink so that’s good, and oh yeah you’re fired.

Trust me, though, AEW isn’t for everyone. “Sink or swim” cuts both ways like a motherf*cker. If you watched us in Year One, you know that. I won’t name any names. But suffice to say, there were guys who had all the buzz in the world coming in at the start — and it turns out it was just that. Buzz. Seriously, there were guys who no one could shut up about. Oh my god, so and so, that dude is a MASSIVE star. Then you’d hear someone mention Darby Allin and it’s like, Yeah, Darby’s cool and all … but he’s little. He’s not REALLY gonna get over. You know who the GUY is? It’s so and so.

But here’s the thing: It wasn’t so and so. It was f*cking Darby, who was supposed to be too small and too weird. (And is a b*tch who I’ve beaten twice with a headlock takeover — but still.) And it was f*cking Penta and Fenix, who definitely got dismissed by a lot of people at first as just these “run-of-the-mill” luchas. And it was f*cking Kingston, who is a BUM sure but got crazy over just by being himself, a dude from Yonkers. And it was f*cking me — who was meant to top out at “Cody’s sidekick” or the douchebag of the month or whatever. (And then of course you’ve got someone like Hangman, who everyone said would be great and he was. Prick!)

Bottom line: AEW = opportunity in every sense of the word. If you’re good, it’s an opportunity to show that. If you’re mid, it’s an opportunity to show that. If you’ve still got it, it’s an opportunity to show that. If you’re washed as f*ck, it’s an opportunity to show that.

And if you’re a generational talent (me), it’s an opportunity to show that.


I want to say a few things about the people who helped build this place.

Tony — yeah he’s my boss, yeah he’s a billionaire’s son, no one wants to hear about him, I’ll be brief. 1. Most billionaires’ sons, as I understand it, are rude idiots who watch Netflix all day on mountains of drugs while siphoning money from Mommy and Daddy. Tony isn’t that. So on a baseline level I guess I respect him for being a nice guy who gives a sh*t and loves this sport. 2. Tony honors contracts. If you think that’s a low bar, cool. Welcome to wrestling.

Cody — we have a beautiful friendship, in a business where friends are like unicorns, and I’ll just leave it at that.

Kenny and the Bucks — I always hear how “polarizing” they are and my response is thank f*ck. Literally every performer worth caring about is polarizing. Every athlete who I’d buy a ticket to watch, every artist who doesn’t put me to sleep. I can probably count all the genuinely punk rock moments in recent wrestling history on two hands. And those dudes betting on themselves and winning is one of them.

Jericho — it’s really fun to sh*t on him, I know. (Trust me, I do it all the time.) But people have the weirdest, shortest memories when it comes to who he is and what he represents. Like: I respect Tony and the EVPs a lot. (See above.) But if AEW at the start had just been those guys, plus a ragtag group of indie wrestlers with zero TV exposure (myself included)?? Sorry…… but no. We would have been dead in the water. Chris gave us a legitimacy that people take so f*cking for granted now it’s insane. And he didn’t just make AEW feel legit — he also made AEW’s world title feel legit. Which might seem like the same thing but it’s different. (It’s harder.) And let’s be clear: Chris also gave legitimacy to MJF. I mean, when he decided to deal with me for a YEAR?? I was already doing well, of course, but his buy-in cemented me. To our fans, to my bosses, to myself. It was like, Yeah, go ahead and get invested in this MJF guy. He’s for real. He’s worth a year of CHRIS JERICHO’s time. I assure you I’m forgetting no one when I say: Chris was the biggest star AEW had at its inception, and most likely still is (besides me, duh).

Courtesy AEW

Moxley — the thing you have to understand with Mox is that he chose AEW. Maybe that sounds obvious, but it’s not. It’s hard to explain. It’s like people have these weird emotional scars about wrestling, from so many years of there being only one game in town. Where it’s like..… Ok. You wrestled classics in Ring of Honor? You were a top guy on the indies? You sold out arenas in Mexico? You were (literally) “big in Japan”? Cool…… have you ever said “Welcome to Monday Night Raw,” though?? I just think there’s a segment of fans who would always assume, no matter what, that WWE was Plan A. But Jon took a f*cking sledgehammer to that assumption. He was part of WWE’s Plan A. He headlined there for half a decade. Was their world champ, was in their biggest stable, drew money, drew ratings, moved assloads of merch. And in the absolute prime of his career he said, Thanks for the memories, thanks for the gigantic offer. But I’mma try this other thing over here. That’s the sh*t a lot of guys will TALK about doing. Jon is the one guy who actually went out and did it. Dude has my infinite respect.

The Originals — Jericho and Moxley, they’re the blueprint for established guys coming in and understanding AEW from Day One. Someone like Bryan, he’s a blueprint for coming in later and doing the same. But this won’t shock you: Not everyone has been like them. Other established dudes came in, thought of us as a parachute between forgettable WWE runs, and didn’t respect what this was built on — or who it was built by, or why it was built in the first place. And while it would be so fun to write a few names down right now, what’s even more fun is I really don’t have to. Because guys like that, their laziness comes out in the wash. It shows up in the f*cking work. Doesn’t mean they’re bad people!! I just don’t respect them. They never understood what Mox or Jericho or Danielson understood, or what The Elite understood, which is that the core of AEW’s success came from two places: 1. Our fans, and 2. The Originals. And it gets easier and easier to overlook the work the Originals put in, the further we get away from it. But I f*cking remember. I remember how we just tried sh*t in Year One. I remember how we not only stayed afloat in the pandemic — we came together and flourished. I remember how influential so many of our ideas were, and how shamelessly they all got copied, because they were new and different and good. Bottom line: Growth is important…… but so is what made that growth possible. I’m proud of the Originals and proud to be one.

Courtesy AEW

Our fans — they’re the best. F*cking sue me. They’re smart, they’re passionate (which is usually code for “lunatic” but not in this case) (mostly), and simply put they love this sh*t. And I don’t mean “love” as in blind loyalty, or “love” as in mark behavior. “Love” as in love. “Love” as in, embracing our best stuff: Swerve and Hangman’s deathmatch. Darby’s stunts. Eddie Kingston’s promos (still a bum). “Timeless” Toni Storm. The f*cking bangers that Jamie Hayter was putting on. MJF-Cole. MJF-Cody. MJF-Bryan. MJF-Punk. MJF-Kenny. MJF-Joe. MJF’s promos. MJF’s body. Wardlow being a pig and betraying MJF. (I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things.) But also “love” as in, holding us accountable: When there’s too much of something. Or when there hasn’t been enough (look at the responses Swerve is getting right now; I don’t like him but come on!!!). Or when we forget what we’re supposed to be about. I’m sure some people will roll their eyes at this but (guess what???) I don’t care: I grew up a fan, I’m still a fan. AEW only works because of our fans. I’m also aware that there’s a contingent of fans who are frustrated with me right now. And you know what?! Those sick f*cks are still the best. They didn’t magically wake up and go from loving to hating me. It happened because they hold me to the highest standard. And I’m GLAD I’m held to that standard — I hold them to the same. If I’m ever missing the mark, I want to know. And I want them to know that when I miss the mark, the next time I’m out there I’m going to hit the living piss out of it. And that for as long as I’m in this company I will give them my all.

It’s weird. During my time in AEW, I’ve had the highest highs — so high they’re untouchable for anyone else in this business (no offense!!). But I’ve also had the lowest lows — so low, with such stupidly bad timing, that I honestly sometimes think I’m cursed. Like I think maybe the wrestle gods were trolling one day and said, “Alright. Let’s create this dude who’s a GOAT on the mic, up there with anyone bell-to-bell, looks electric in a Burberry scarf, is unnecessarily good at singing, and is easily the most exciting performer of the biggest boom period in decades. But every time he does something great let’s have this other dude (note: whom I wish the best!!!) eat a f*cking muffin. Or let’s have someone get injured. Or let’s have someone else do some other dumb sh*t.” It’s like all of my best moments have come with a bad moment attached.

Not sure why it’s worked out like that…. but you play the hand you’re dealt. And while I’m proud of a lot of things I’ve done in AEW, near the tippy top of the list is the fact that I’ve never made an excuse. Not one single time. No matter how much bullsh*t has come my way (and so much bullsh*t has come my way). No matter how much pain I’m in behind the scenes (and sometimes I wish you guys knew). No matter what, man. I’ve just done my job. What a concept.


Top five title defenses of the MJF era (in no order):

Danielson in San Francisco. Bell-to-bell, Bryan is the best wrestler alive — and for my money the best who’s ever done it is him or Eddie Guerrero. That match was such f*cking validation, and it always will be. For whatever reason (the reason is they have brainworms) people love to use my mic skills against me as an in-ring performer. As if being a great promo must mean I can’t hang as a wrestler. I despise that perception of me. And I wrestle with a chip on my shoulder because of it. So when I went 60 minutes with the GOAT? To me that wasn’t just me vs. Bryan. It was me vs. the people who think they know what I’m capable of. It was me saying, Motherf*ckers I walk the walk. And I walk it with more swag than anyone you’ve ever seen.

Four Pillars in Vegas. Speaking of chips on shoulders. Go ahead and think what you want about “four pillars” as a concept — but getting to headline a PPV with those three dudes, when none of them had main-evented a PPV before? That was a big deal to me. And of course we heard what people were saying in the lead-up to it: Why is Sammy in the main event? Why is Jungle Boy in there? (Darby on the other hand..… everyone loves that emo c*nt.) And honestly that offended me and Darby as much as it offended Sammy and Jack. It was like, who is anyone to tell us who belongs in a match? And then of course those dudes all wrestled like the f*cking Michael Jordan “.....I took that personally” meme, and it was one of the best world title matches in AEW history. And afterwards everyone was like, Huh. Well…. THAT was incredible. Sammy, Jungle Boy, who knew? Umm, I knew. We knew.

Kenny at Mohegan Sun. Kenny has a lot of detractors and none of them can lace up his boots. (Well, his kick pads, but I digress.) (Thanks, Taz.) I think people fear change, and fear what they don’t know. And Kenny wrestles a style that confronts those people with the fact that what they don’t know could fill ten f*cking oceans. Is it MY style, personally?? No. But I appreciate that it comes from genius, and that guys like Kenny are how we evolve. Also holy sh*t I loved wrestling him.

Cole at Wembley. Oh, look, another example of me doing something incredible and the big story afterwards being “old man gets in fracas.” In seriousness: To main-event Wembley Stadium at all would have been something I was proud of. But what meant even more is that 1. I did it with Adam, who’s become a really good friend, and 2. We did it in a match that actually felt worthy of main-eventing Wembley Stadium. It SUCKS how Adam got injured — he was insanely good this summer and deserved to have it all play out. But I’m glad we got that match. It’s forever and it f*cking ruled.

Courtesy AEW

Joe at Arthur Ashe. I’m putting this one in as a placeholder until Saturday. Joe is a monster, an athletic freak, a legit tough guy in a world full of pretend “tough guys,” a living legend, and this makes no sense but I think he’s the best he’s ever been. And there’s a reason why we had to run that match back with a sequel: It was way too good not to.


I’m tired.

I know that’s not what you’re supposed to say as a professional wrestler — especially not before a big world title defense in your hometown. I know I should take my vitamins, brother, order up an expensive coffee to the five-star hotel room I’m staying in (thanks, Tony), and end this article by cutting an ’80s good guy promo about the evil Samoa Joe. Let’s sell some Pay-Per-Views!!!!!!! But I don’t know, man. I’m just so, so, so tired. That’s the God’s honest truth. My hip is a mess. My arm won’t lift above my head. I’m on painkillers, which are not my thing. I can’t sleep.

But like I said earlier…… I know it’s not only me who’s tired. I know our fans are a little tired of this run I’ve been on. And for the first time since this company started, I know there’s some MJF fatigue. Which is fine, by the way — no one stays hot forever.

Right now, though, as I'm writing this? It’s Wednesday morning. It’s three days before Worlds End.

It’s five days from five years of MJF in AEW.

And I don’t know what comes next.

Here’s what I do know. Wrestling in the main event of a card at Nassau Coliseum as AEW world champ? That sh*t means everything to me. Really. EVERYTHING. People are always telling me how Long Island is a part of my “character” — nope, f*ck you, it’s home. I’m a short kid with learning disabilities from Long Island. Not a character. People are always telling me how getting bullied is a part of my “backstory” — nope, f*ck you, it happened. Kids threw quarters at me and told me to “pick it up, Jew Boy.” Not a backstory. And if you think this is that ’80s good guy promo I was teasing a couple of paragraphs ago, it isn’t. Actually … you want to know the truth? Sometimes I wonder if standing up to antisemitism would even be a “babyface move” anymore. No, for real — I legit wonder. I wonder if being a proud Jew like I am, in 2023, has actually made me LESS popular as a wrestler. And if deep down, when someone says they have “MJF fatigue,” what they really mean is “enough with the Jewish stuff already.” I honestly don’t know the answer to that … and I’m sure I’ll get sh*t for even asking the question. But that’s where my thoughts are right now. It’s “fear the worst.” I’m a Jew in America and I’m f*cking soul sick. 

Allow me to say this, straight up, point blank: I don’t support terrorism, Zionism, genocide, war, bombs, genocidal governments, dead innocent Palestinians, dead innocent Israelis. I don’t support people — any people — dying because of hate. I’ll tell you what I do support, and what I definitely am: I’m anti-hate. I’m sick to my stomach that people are calling for the death of Jews over something that’s happening on the other side of the world. And I’m sick that Hamas, a literal terrorist organization, has fans on this side of the world — as on a daily basis I’m having to read antisemitic sh*t from all kinds of people: celebrities (hi, Kanye), strangers, even people I know. It’s just very sad. We’re all human, man. We all deserve rights, we all deserve freedom, we all deserve happiness and respect. (I really wanted to clarify these things and I hope I have. These are the serious conversations I have with the very hot woman I’m in love with, who by the way is Palestinian.)

Sorry — I got off track. This thing was supposed to be about “AEW turning five” + the PPV.

Jackson Krule/The Players' Tribune

Here’s the last thing I’ll say about my Jewishness: If you’re over it, tough sh*t. If you feel like it’s a political statement, I can’t help you. If it makes you uncomfortable, good I’m glad. If you think I should tone it down, no I won’t. If you hate me for other reasons, yeah that’s fair.

Here’s the last thing I’ll say about Worlds End — and don’t worry it’s toxic: I will tear the f*cking house down against Joe or I will LITERALLY DIE TRYING. Do not celebrate that sentence, it’s so stupid. If I was being smart I’d sit this one out. I’m not being smart. I only get one first title reign, and one first title defense in my hometown. I won’t tell you my entire career has been building to this because my entire life has been building to this.

And then finally…. here’s the last thing I’ll say about AEW: Happy birthday, you f*cking weirdo. To everyone who’s helped us succeed, THANKS. And to everyone who hoped we would fail — Yikes!!!!! Sorry for your loss, my condolences truly. Order the PPV though it will be sick.