Maxwell Jacob Friedman, better known as MJF in the wrestling world, has rapidly become a standout star in All Elite Wrestling (AEW). Reflecting on his journey in a candid essay for "The Players' Tribune," Friedman offers a unique glimpse into his early days with the promotion, a time when he was far from being a main event fixture.
MJF credits his initial opportunity at "All In" to Cody Rhodes, who took a chance on him when AEW was just taking shape. Tony Khan, AEW's President, later extended another pivotal opportunity by signing him. Despite being positioned initially as the antagonist you love to hate, MJF's role was not seen as a stepping stone to the top.
He contrasts his early experiences with those of "Hangman" Adam Page, who was quickly earmarked for stardom. While Page received endorsements and acclaim, Friedman's path was less glamorous. He recalls a particular segment at Double or Nothing 2019 where he was booed and punched, a stark contrast to Page's rising trajectory.
However, what stands out in MJF's story is his resilience and the freedom AEW afforded him, even at 21. He highlights a significant moment when, before delivering a promo on wrestling legend Bret Hart, he was given complete creative freedom—a rarity in the wrestling industry.
This "sink or swim" approach, as Friedman puts it, is emblematic of AEW's ethos: giving talent the platform to prove themselves, unshackled by stringent scripting.
AEW's Success Stories
MJF acknowledges that AEW might not resonate with everyone, yet he points out the success stories of Darby Allin and The Lucha Bros, who, like him, were initially underestimated.
His narrative underscores AEW as a land of opportunity, where talent is tested not by predetermined storylines but by their ability to connect with the audience. Friedman concludes by positioning AEW as a proving ground that distinguishes the exceptional from the mediocre.
For wrestlers like him, who he confidently labels as "generational talents," AEW is not just a stage but a crucible for showcasing true prowess. As MJF's story unfolds, his message is clear: AEW is where talents are not just made but are also allowed to shine in their authentic glory.