Maxwell Jacob Friedman has connected with fans since his days working with companies like MLW, and that connection’s only grown since he worked the first All In and went on to become one of the “Young Pillars” of AEW.
Heading into the second All In this weekend, MJF’s ability to reach fans has helped make his storyline with Adam Cole one of the hottest in wrestling. The Better Than You BAY BAY duo will open (challenging for the ROH Tag titles on the pre-show) and close (facing each other for Max’s World title) in front of 80,000+ people at London’s Wembley Arena.
Friedman’s been in PPV main events before, but this will be the first time he’s done so as a babyface. That doesn’t surprise Max, who while being interviewed by Cameron Hawkins for The Ringer told the writer:
“Let me explain something to you: I’m over as fuck, and I want you to print that verbatim.”
A lot of that is talent and ability, something MJF has no problem explaining to Hawkins throughout their chat. But he thinks it’s also his honesty, whether as a heel insulting non-Long Island crowds, or being vulnerable talking about the times he’s face anti-semitic bullying:
“What’s lacking on national TV—hell, what’s lacking in reality—are real people. Everyone’s so fucking fake and phony now,” MJF explains, further stating that he is “the only person who’s just being me, and I’m being myself unapologetically,” understanding that, while being himself was what made fans hate him at first, over time he will maintain their respect, as he’s only ever given them his authentic self, always.
And again, a big part of that authenticity is not hiding his self-confidence. As “our scumbag”, there are now traces of humility to it. But the swagger is still there. It was on display when Friedman talked about his legacy in The Ringer interview:
“When my run is over, I want people to just magnanimously say, ‘No, that’s the best AEW world title run.’ ... I feel that if after Wembley, I’m still the world champion, that means that I successfully defended my belt against, in my opinion, one of the best wrestlers in the world today, Adam Cole, in front of 80,000 strong. And I think we’re getting to the point now where it’s becoming undeniable that I’m the best AEW world champion of all time.”