WWE suddenly has mounds of competitors in the world of pro wrestling, and the promotion takes some justifiable criticism for what can often be a stale and stagnant product. That said, WWE isn’t short on talent, and no matter what you’re looking for, you can usually find the best in the business on WWE’s roster.
However, that isn’t the case when it comes to heels. The best heel in the business isn’t on WWE’s roster. That distinction belongs to All-Elite Wrestling’s Maxwell Jacob Friedman aka MJF, and he doesn’t even turn 24 until March.
I know some may be thinking, what about Bray Wyatt?
Without a question, Wyatt is one of the most talented people in the industry, but he has such a following, I don’t even consider him a heel anymore. He’s more of an anti-hero for a generation of wrestling fans that don’t exactly play by the old school rules anymore.
A better example of a strong heel in WWE is Baron Corbin. He has his haters, but he has grown exponentially over the last 18 months, and is one of the strongest and most consistent performers in and out of the ring. He’s the closest thing to MJF in the business currently, with all due respect to the legendary Chris Jericho who is great at just about everything he does in wrestling.
MJF’s persona screams heel in every way. He walks, talks, wrestles and even has the perfect facial expressions of a heel. MJF also understands how to further his brand on social media.
It’s hard to define it, but there is an aura about him that plays perfectly with the on-screen persona. MJF can communicate more by standing silently in the middle of the ring, holding a microphone, than most heels can after delivering a three-minute live promo.
It’s as if someone morphed Jim Cornette into Mr. Perfect’s body.
In the ring, MJF isn’t exactly a wizard. He’s more of a storyteller than an athletic high flyer, but that actually helps to put his gimmick over. It’s similar to a quality Ric Flair possessed. From the classic overselling to sneaky opportunistic moves, there is an obvious sprinkle of the Dirtiest Player in the Game.
I often found myself wondering how the Nature Boy could be booked to take down some of his past opponents. Most of the time, after the match, Flair made the result look believable.
MJF has the same magic.
Easily, the most important quality MJF brings to the party is his mic skills. If you haven’t had an opportunity to listen and watch him on the mic, you should take a look at the video below. It’s a expertly-cut promo aimed at Cody Rhodes and Texas fans in attendance.
Few have the ability to antagonize the crowd, while also fluently taking shots at opponents like MJF. He’s also quick witted and capable of shifting gears to respond to chants, signs or anything else fans hurl his way. Despite his youth, he’s never swallowed by the moment.
If you’re looking for a reason to watch AEW, there are a few, not least of which is the performance of MJF.