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I can’t take MJF seriously as a challenger for Jon Moxley

photo by Thomas Tischio; courtesy AEW

There has been no such thing as a bad AEW pay-per-view (PPV), so I’m looking forward to All Out, coming up this Saturday, Sept. 5. That being said, it seems to me that the buzz for this card is lacking relative to AEW’s past PPV events, and that starts with the underwhelming world championship storyline.

MJF is undefeated in singles competition in AEW. That alone should make him a great choice to challenge Jon Moxley for the AEW world championship in a PPV main event. But MJF still feels like a relatively weak challenger.

First of all, AEW has pursued a silly political campaign storyline to build this match, rather than focusing on MJF being a formidable opponent in the ring. MJF’s biggest win in his AEW career occurred on their February PPV, Revolution, when he beat Cody. There’s no doubt that’s a huge win, but how was that victory followed up?

Here’s a list of who MJF has defeated in singles competition since then (over the last six months): Lee Johnson, Marko Stunt, Jungle Boy, Billy Gunn, and Griff Garrison.

Meanwhile, here is the analogous list of who AEW world champion Jox Moxley has defeated in singles competition over those same six months: Jake Hager, Kazarian, Ten, Brodie Lee, Brian Cage, Darby Allin, and Mark Sterling.

These lists are hardly comparable. Jungle Boy is the only non-jobber on MJF’s list, whereas Moxley has an impressive mix of opponents up and down the card.

MJF needed a big win or two this summer (over someone higher on the card than Jungle Boy) to make him seem like a real threat to Moxley, but it’s just not there. The Cody match in February was pre-pandemic era wrestling, and feels forever ago. It’s not fresh in anyone’s memory. Maybe the problem is that AEW doesn’t have too many upper card singles babyfaces for MJF to beat besides Cody and Moxley. That’s part of the planning though, and AEW needed to have someone else ready for MJF to go over before this match at All Out.

The second thing working against this world championship match is that MJF’s political campaign storyline just isn’t main event material. It culminated with a go-home angle with a bad comedy match between Jon Moxley and MJF’s lawyer. This seemed much more like a goofy match that Dean Ambrose would be booked in, rather than Jon Moxley. You can even hear Moxley during the match admit that it’s bad television, before going to the finish. MJF did bloody up Moxley afterwards, and this feuded needed more violent segments like that. The bloody beatdown came off as too little, too late. If the PPV was still a few weeks away, then the build to this match could be salvaged, but AEW ran out of time.

The storyline here should have been straightforward: world champion versus undefeated challenger. It should feel like a big deal when MJF takes that first loss, but AEW has mostly de-emphasized that aspect to this fight. Considering MJF’s lack of impressive wins over the last six months, as well as the silly political campaign storyline that AEW went ahead with, this is not the right time for Jon Moxley to drop the title. It also doesn’t feel like the ideal time for MJF to take his first loss. The world title is more important than a winning streak over lots of jobbers, though, so the title should not change hands given these underwhelming circumstances.

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