The “Le Dinner Debonair” segment from the Oct. 21 episode of Dynamite divided wrestling fans - even more than we usually are!
Was MJF and Chris Jericho ordering undercooked meats and bonding over their hatred of Orange Cassidy before launching into a full-blown song & dance number campy fun from two over-the-top heel characters, or a business-damaging, cringe-inducing vanity project from two stars in need of an editor?
Let the debate continue, as MJF’s role in the segment just got singled out by award-winning culture critic Wesley Morris for his “Best Performances of 2020” feature in a little publication called The New York Times. Maybe you’ve heard of it?
Morris seems to mostly agree with the critics of “Le Dinner Debonair”, but he’s a really, really big MJF fan. Here’s the write-up:
Maxwell Jacob Friedman doing “Me and My Shadow” on All Elite Wrestling
Some weeks the athleticism at this professional wrestling start-up is more exciting than anything happening in Vince McMahon’s empire. And no one in the WWE has this kid’s combination of diction (Juilliard by way of Long Island), intensity or cheesiness, either. Even when Friedman’s lost his cool (his nom de ring is MJF), he still has astounding control. The character is part heel, part tool (hair gel, loafers, Burberry bling — tacky, tacky, tacky) and part goodfella wannabe; his mouth does more running than he does. For reasons only the producers of this show can explain, a long segment in October between MJF and the veteran Chris Jericho culminated in a version of “Me and My Shadow” complete with dancing women and live singing. It was less than spectacular, though not for anything Friedman did. He wasn’t embarrassed at all. He was smooth in a way that should worry Ric Flair. This kid makes you wanna say, “Woo!”
Most observers from inside and outside the wrestling bubble see MJF as a performer with huge potential, and being one of 14 things singled out in a major year-end Times piece backs up that scouting report.
Does that mean “Le Dinner Debonair” was a success?
While that debate rages on, we should be hearing MJF brag about this before you can say “Wonderful!”