Ahead of AEW’s Worlds End PPV tomorrow (Dec. 30) — which takes place in his beloved Long Island, where he will defend the World title against Samoa Joe — Maxwell Jacob Friedman has penned a long letter about the company and his title run for The Player’s Tribune.
Entitled, “I Have Some Things To Say, Please Read”, the entire thing is well worth the time it takes to do just that.
MJF covers a lot of ground, including but not limited to his injury status heading into Saturday’s show, fan fatigue with his title run & babyface character, backstage drama that’s drawn attention away from the on-screen product (and some of his big moments, like having “that other dude (note: whom I wish the best!!!) eat a f*cking muffin” after Max’s return at last year’s All Out), favorite matches he’s been in for the company, and being proudly Jewish in a time of rising anti-semitism & the Israel/Hamas war.
The through-line for much of that is the upcoming fifth anniversary of AEW. Friedman thanks and comments on the importance of many of the people who were there in 2019 when the company’s creation was unveiled: Tony Khan, Cody Rhodes, Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks, Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley, and the company’s fans.
On the subject of AEW fans, MJF loves that they’re critical of the company, and of him. He loves that they’re “smart, they’re passionate (which is usually code for “lunatic” but not in this case) (mostly), and simply put they love this sh*t.”
But he differentiates between fans offering criticism and those hoping for AEW’s downfall. It’s part of an explanation of the change Friedman argues AEW has brought to the wrestling business:
There’s a reason that “workers rights” get brought up so often in conversations around AEW: It’s because we have a lot goddamn more of them now. This sh*t isn’t rocket science. Competition = bad for management, good for labor. There used to be one major American wrestling company, now there’s two. That f*cking matters. It matters for the wrestlers who work here, since we all have jobs that literally didn’t exist five years ago. But it also matters for the wrestlers who don’t work here. For everyone in WWE, AEW means not having to work in monopoly conditions. It means more options, which means more leverage, which means more money. (And I’ll take a wild guess and say better treatment.) And for wrestlers outside those two companies, AEW matters not just because it exists, but because of how it exists. Listen … if you google me, I think it says I’m 5’11” — but we all know that’s horsesh*t. I’m like 5’8”, guys. And this is a place where, simply put, a 5’8” Jew can be world champ. If you know wrestling history then you know that’s a big deal and why.
So while I welcome anyone being critical of AEW (God knows I am)..... if you’re actually actively rooting against us? Against us EXISTING? Guess what, you’re the f*cking worst. You’re rooting against workers. And that’s the truth. Because out of all the incredible things that AEW has done over these last five years, #1 with a bullet is “put MJF on TV.” But #2 is “make the wrestling industry just a little bit better to work in.”
The subject of AEW being “under attack” has been around for a while, and was recently brought back to the forefront of the conversation by Khan’s remarks after Ring of Honor’s Final Battle PPV earlier this month. It can be easy to make fun of or roll your eyes at, because while it’s obviously very important to a lot of people, criticism of a pro wrestling promotion is not even close to being the most important thing happening in the world today.
But entertainment is subjective, and art should prompt thought, discussion, and debate. There are also critics who know how important AEW can be for the overall industry and want to push it to be the best it can be, or at least live up to the promises its made that it’s made. That said, not all of the folks talking and writing negatively about AEW are just interested in a good conversation, or inspiring Khan’s team to reach their potential.
Or as MJF said in a different interview (with Scott Fishman of TV Insider), “There is a difference between, ‘I want AEW to die. Fed is better. LOL.’ ... And, “I miss when AEW kind of had a more sports presentation.”
The “I want AEW to die” crowd should read the above again. Maybe while thinking about the new contracts some of their favorites are signing with TKO Group.
For everyone else who just wants to read everything the champ had to say, you can do that here.