One of the fastest rising stars in pro wrestling today is Maxwell Jacob Friedman. Competing for All Elite Wrestling, MJF isn’t afraid to tell you to your face that he is better than you. His outspoken attitude in and out of the ring resulted in him being named Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s Most Hated Wrestler of the Year for 2021.
A two-time dynamite diamond ring winner, MJF doesn’t lack confidence. Working with stalwarts like FTR and Tully Blanchard, Shawn Spears and the young, mighty Wardlow, The Pinnacle has taken over the company. Is there tension between MJF and Wardlow? Despite this, MJF should be focusing all his energy on the coming back CM Punk pitting the two best talkers against each other.
What does MJF think of Punk, Wardlow and himself? The Sporting News nabbed the Long Island native, who hit no punches.
sports news: A few years ago, you mentioned that you wanted to be a household name, and every time someone brought up the name MJF, they said, “He’s the best.” are you there now?
MJF: Not only am I there, but the statistics are there to prove it. I have one of the biggest average ratings not only on AEW Dynamite, but in all professional wrestling. I’m the biggest domestic AEW star on Google Trends. No one is a former WWE man in the company, my name comes up. Not only do I feel like I’m a household name, I feel like a megastar at the moment.
I’m in the ring with people like CM Punk, and I’m verbally killing them. A guy who claims all the time that he’s one of the greatest promo guys of all time, I’m chewing on him and spitting him out. To answer your question, yes, out loud yes.
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SN: Regarding your rivalry with CM Punk, do you think Punk joining AEW means he is trying to take your place?
MJF: I would say if he was not running away from me for the last three months he is taking my place. Outside of that, if anything, I have taken his place. He was going to come here and be the man, and quite frankly I am. Is that a thorn in my side? Yes, but really, I should be world champion right now. Not just a one-time world champion, two-time world champion because Dictator John (Moxley) used an illegal maneuver in our matchup at pay-per-view. Right now, I should already be AEW World Champion because fools like you believe he’s on my level.
SN: Don’t you believe CM Punk is on your level?
MJF: No, not even close. Check out the promo war that happened between us, going on all over the world at number one on YouTube. Nearly four million views. You tell me if he is on my level. I felt so
SN: You’ve fought each other over the mic, but what about in the ring? How do you see the match between the two?
MJF: Punk is in the middle. Although, to be honest, seven years not being in the ring is a long time. For someone so long, I don’t care how great you are. Don’t get me wrong, punk is great. I’m just better than him, and he knows it. In fact, we have seen their matches. With the exception of the match with Shawn Spears. By the way, if you want my honest opinion, I think Punk cheated. Spears wasn’t ready when the bell rang, she was still waving “hello” at me. It’s pretty clear that Punk has struggled to win in AEW. Whoever the opponent may be. I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t think they pray if we ever get in the ring together.
SN: During your time at AEW, you had Wardlow. There has been some tension between the two of you lately. Any updates on your relationship?
MJF: It’s nothing to worry about. I am very proud of Wardlow and his success. However, I think he needs to mention more that his success is because of me, but that’s okay. I put a house and a roof over the heads of not only Wardlow, but his entire family. Wardlow, I think, sometimes forgets that. He forgets that his check does not have Tony Khan’s signature. His checks are not signed by fans. Surely CM Punk is not signing his check. They are signed by me. Sometimes I have to casually remind her, and that’s okay.
SN: You tweeted a message to powerhouse Hobbs on his birthday. “Happy Birthday to the coolest big guy in AEW by a country mile.” For clarification purposes, are you going back to Wardlow, are you pushing for something?
MJF: I am not indicating anything, just stating a fact. I think Powerhouse Hobbs is the most attractive prospect not only in All Elite Wrestling, but in all professional wrestling. I think he’s a reliable athlete, I think he’s great on the stick, I think his looks are incredible. People think Wardlow had a shadow. I don’t consider Wardlow a big man, I consider Wardlow a hybrid athlete. No shots at Wardog, no rocks being thrown, I love some Wardlows.
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SN: You formed The Pinnacle, which is full of giants. Has he taught you any valuable lessons?
MJF: Much more than you can imagine. Dax and Cash taught me that there is beauty and simplicity in the ring, bell by bell. He has also explained to me how important it is to be firm and intense. You can flap your gums all you want, but if you can’t work out, then nothing else matters. You need to be violent there. I was quite violent before meeting him. He taught me many different techniques, most notably how to cut a ring in half in a tag team match, and I’ve been a solo competitor my entire career. I’ve learned a lot just by tagging along with DAX and CASH.
As for Spears, Spears has taught me a lot about timing, lock up etiquette, and she taught me how to swing one hell of a chair shot. All these people have been great. Tully, he’s told me a lot of stories from his heyday, and it’s honestly helped me understand this business even more. Truth be told, I was a strange person even before I met all these men. The simple fact that I can choose their mind makes me very intimidating as a contestant. And that’s why The Pinnacle is always on top.
SN: Do you have any advice for your rookie self?
MJF: Don’t change a thing, don’t listen to the old ends. Everyone who gives you advice before going to AEW is just trying to stop you. The number of people who told me that I shouldn’t talk the way I walk, wrestle the way I wrestle, who knew I’d overtake them, is absolutely insane. I am better than you all, and you know it.