Though his rhetoric has chilled out ever so slightly since winning the AEW World Championship off of CM Punk at All Out 2022, MJF continues to hint at a desire to play the field in 2024 and maybe, just maybe, take his talents to WWE early next year should he win “The Bidding War of 2024.”
In the opinion of some, including ex-WWE writer Freddie Prinze Jr., that would be a mistake as, despite being afforded a bigger platform to work his magic, what he'd be allowed to express onscreen might not be on par with what he's allowed to exhibit in Tony Khan's company.
Sitting down for an Insight interview with Chris VanVliet, Prinze was asked if he thought MJF would jump ship when afforded a chance to do so and let it be known that, while MJF may truly be all about the money, Khan would likely match any offer WWE presents to his top guy in order to keep his independent spirit alive.
“I don’t know. You know, the character of MJF will go where the money’s best. But I think special stars get special treatment, and exceptions are made for exceptional people. And I feel like any offer WWE would make Tony Khan would match. And MJF has a tonne of freedom, a tonne of freedom where he’s at. And at WWE, you simply don’t. It’s a publicly traded company, there are people to answer to, and I’ve heard that when I worked there. So, it’s just a different environment. And I don’t know if Max would trust the process there at that company to get him as over as he is at a smaller company,” Prinze said via 411 Mania.
“And AEW, by the way, they’re doing fine. They pre-sold over 35,000 tickets in London for a pay-per-view that’s technically two pay-per-views away. So, they’re doing well. That’s a big win for them. So as long as they keep producing like that, you know, I don’t [know]. If I were him, I wouldn’t leave because, like the storyline they put him in with the other three, they’re the four pillars. They’re the young ones that helped build the company, with Jericho laying down the foundation right, and Cody. But yeah, man, I don’t, I get the MJF hate, I just don’t agree with it. And I don’t think he would leave.”
Would a WWE MJF work, or would fans look back at his run in the company in hindsight with the same eyes as they have for Bryan Danielson, CM Punk, and Samoa Joe a few years down the line, arguing that he did it better on the indies? Either way, after hating his position on the card and literally no-showing events on Double or Nothing weekend one year ago, it's clear MJF is in a different place now than he was before, and that push may be enough to keep him satisfied in professional wrestling's 1B.
Freddie Prinze Jr. explains how WWE's writing style could negatively impact MJF
Turning his attention to what separates WWE from AEW, Prinze shared some of his own experiences as a member of the writers' room and noted that despite working really hard to make a promo feel organic, sometimes Superstars are asked to throw it all away, and simply deliver words written by someone else.
“Listen, WWE does great stuff. All right, the whole Bloodline, Sami Zayn thing was great stuff. But they also do stuff that feels very tight and constrictive, and you feel like the talent is being someone that they don’t believe in,” Prinze said. “And it’s hard to ask a professional wrestler to just get rid of who they are and be someone else. They’re not a trained actor 99% of the time. They’re amazing in the ring. They know how to do that kind of psychology, but they don’t know how to break down a monologue, which they call a promo.
“When I was there, that was, I mean, I was literally teaching them what I was learning in acting class on how to break a scene down as far as like, goal, objective route. That’s what I want; that’s what stops me from getting what I want as an actor; what choices am I going to make to get that? Am I going through the objective? Am I going under it? Am I going around? Those were all the things that we talked about with their promos. Like what is it you want out of this promo? I want to get over. Everybody wants to get over; what is it the character wants? He wants a shot at the title. Okay, what’s preventing you from getting that shot at the title? Well, this guy is, you know, he’s making me wrestle all these other guys to earn a shot. He’s interfering in all the [matches]. Perfect. What are you going to do? Now what’s the promise you’re going to make to the crowd? What’s the promise going to be? Doesn’t matter how many things he throws at me; it doesn’t matter how many times he cheats, I’m still going to be here. You’re not gonna, you know, then that’s how we would develop a promo, basically.
“But even then, when it was done, sometimes it would get changed last minute, because you know, Vince, caught a wild hare, and all of a sudden it was ‘oh, this sucks.' Like he was great an hour ago. Those were your words, this is great; this is sh*t. Like, what happened in 60 minutes? You know what I mean? Like, who talked to you, man, who got to you? Was his name Kevin? So yeah, man, so things change last minute there at a much higher rate. And I’m sure there’s pros and cons to both companies that people that are more on the inside are far more aware of than I am. But if I were (MJF), I wouldn’t leave. Would you? You finish building your perfect castle, your perfect castle with all the defenses you need. You have, the people are happy, they’re well fed. Everyone’s starting to make money. And then you’re just gonna go to this castle over here. No, man, why would you start over?”
Are there some members of the WWE roster allowed to more or less speak for themselves? Sure, Cody Rhodes cuts promos that couldn't possibly be 100 percent pre-written, and both Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins are most likely given outlines and key phrases to study with some wiggle room to operate around it. If that sounds good to MJF, well, he will certainly have an offer coming his way in 2024, but as Prinze noted, you don't build a castle only to abandon it once it's finished.