The MJF promo will ultimately be a bad move


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I'm going to be brutally honest with you: worked shoots don't work. They always, always, end up being a lesser deal than it seemed like it would be at the outset.

It just leaves fans, who already have irrational expectations as it is, disappointed that their irrational expectations for the greatest worked shoot angle ever were not met.

What the hell is All Elite Wrestling thinking?

When Brian Pillman did his worked shoot angle by getting released from WCW and showing up in ECW, the diehard smarks and journalists ate it up; but it made very little difference to WCW's bottom line. To top it off, WCW didn't even benefit from it: Pillman ended up in WWE where he would work for the last year of his life.

When Bret Hart did the infamous worked shoot promo where he went off on Vince McMahon, publicly outing him in WWE canon as the owner of the company, it did not make much of a difference in WWE's fortunes. The company spent nearly all of 1997 languishing behind Monday Nitro, and the viewership boom for pro wrestling was still roughly a few months away.

Vince Russo tried going the worked shoot route to get eyeballs and interest into WCW, which had been bleeding viewership for nearly a year plus at that point. However, WCW's programming was so bad from a booking and writing standpoint, it lost both the fans that only cared about kayfabe and the fans that actually cared about the backstage shenanigans. Most of it was just fodder for the nascent internet wrestling community.

The most well-known and fondly discussed worked shoot, the CM Punk Pipe Bomb Promo, as riveting as it was fleeting. Punk actually re-signed with WWE the day of Money in the Bank, won the belt, disappeared from TV from a handful of weeks, came back way too early, and ended up being babyface 1C, to babyface 1A in John Cena and babyface 1B in The Rock. Viewership didn't skyrocket; attendance didn't skyrocket; and nobody's fortune's really changed except for Punk's—more negatively than positively at that.

Maxwell Jacob Friedman cut an incredible worked shoot promo. It was fantastic; well done. And the follow up is going to disappoint everyone, because that is what will always happen with a worked shoot promo. The fans develop unrealistic expectations as to what could happen next; the promotion, more often than not, will fail to meet those expectations. In fact, as Bryan Alvarez noted correctly on the June 2, 2022 episode of Wrestling Observer Live, there is a very good chance that MJF accidentally turned himself babyface for the simple reason of airing a grievance that a certain part of AEW fans share.

Worked shoots are a crowd popping moment, but they often have underwhelming payoffs. There's a simple reason why: it requires such a high level of television writing and picture perfect booking to the point that a promotion can't pull it off.

For example, WCW essentially tried to make a show that was about a wrestling promotion and not so much of a wrestling promotion. However, Russo (and Ed Ferrara) lacked the ability to craft a convincing presentation to pull it off; WCW 2000 was a chaotic show that looked second-rate to the much more polished WWE product. In essence, it was an idea that Russo had that seemed novel on paper but was middling in its execution.

When WWE tried to do the worked shoot angle with Punk, the company was clear in that it had no interest in taking any further than it did. It was always going to be a tightly controlled vision for Vince McMahon, one that was designed to elevate WWE and not so much Punk himself. The Pipe Bomb promo, much like MJF's on Dynamite, was supposed to be a heel promo: crowds ended up cheering both performers as they were always going to side with the aggrieved wrestler over the company.

A worked shoot angle takes real savviness. The audience must be willing to go down the narrative road that the promotion is going to want to take them down; more over, the promotion has to communicate clearly that the story is going to go somewhere, and the direction is worth the audience's time and attention. The booking has to be picture perfect: leave him off TV too long and the crowd will get restless; have him on TV too frequently and the appeal of the angle will quickly lose its luster. The writing has to be perfect, too, and not just promos: there has to be a clear plot with a beginning, middle, and end.

With that in mind, I feel that the worked shoot promo by MJF, as entertaining as it was, is probably one of the dumbest things I've ever seen All Elite Wrestling do. This is nothing against MJF, nothing against the promotion, and nothing against Tony Khan—but Chris Kreski is not going to emerge from the grave to write this angle the way it needs to be written. All of the promise and all of the intrigue that people think this storyline will have is going to evaporate a lot quicker than anyone will want to admit.

No promotion should do a worked shoot angle unless there is a comprehensive plan that is set in stone; everyone involved needs to be in on a plan that is going to have to be set in stone and be followed closely for weeks, perhaps months. I think the world of MJF as a talent; I don't think Khan is a good TV writer, but he is a good booker; neither have enough TV experience to really pull this off effectively.

I hope that I am wrong; I really do. But I'm not holding my breath because I think my concerns will end up being validated over the next few weeks and months.

The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Cageside Seats readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cageside Seats editors or staff.