AEW News

Update On MJF’s “Fractured” Relationship With Tony Khan

MJF Tony Khan

A new update details how MJF is reportedly “withdrawn” and “disgruntled” backstage as his relationship with Tony Khan has fractured.

For a number of months, MJF has called on-screen attention to the fact that his contract with AEW is set to expire in 2024 and has expressed public dissatisfaction with the company. AEW President Tony Khan recently spoke to Inside the Ropes’ Kenny McIntosh during a media call and praised the star for adding an element of realism to television, but MJF responded harshly to that praise in a now-deleted tweet.

After no-showing a fan event the day before AEW Double or Nothing, it became clear that the tensions between Maxwell Jacob Friedman and AEW were deeper than a storyline frustration, and doubt was cast as to whether or not he would go through with his planned match with Wardlow. However, he did show up just before his match and left immediately after being decisively beaten in the opening bout of the pay-per-view.

Tony Khan has refused to publicly comment on the situation, and he and MJF are reportedly set to hold talks about the star’s future with the company.

In a new update from Wade Keller on PWTorchVIP.com, it was revealed that one of the major sources of frustration for Friedman is the fact that he’s making significantly less money than several ex-WWE employees who now work for AEW, in some cases 4-5 times less. According to the report, Friedman has become increasingly frustrated with the AEW President despite getting a raise in January as he didn’t feel the situation was handled appropriately.

“By the time January 1 2022 came around, yes, he got a new contract and a raise…But MJF was thinking, ‘Hey, come on, Tony, approach me, get me on the level of some of these people that you keep bringing in. I’m doing great work, and I’m drawing great ratings.’ And when Tony didn’t do that MJF the way he handled it was to get very angry privately and then it kind of exploded. And I think Tony was caught off guard by how angry MJF was getting…”

Keller also noted that MJF’s segments are often some of the highest rated on AEW programming but the star’s pay doesn’t reflect that, and also that some of the people making more money than him are less featured on television. The report continued, explaining how on-screen character frustration led to reality and the star becoming angrier in real life.

“So MJF was touting WWE on air over AEW during promos on Dynamite. He was drawing attention to his contract expiration date. And it was seen as part of a storyline to generate heel heat as a pro-WWE guy. And it also was sort of like I thought building towards a moment that he and Tony had planned out that late in 2023 there’d be the sweepstakes for MJF and like Bret Hart with Vince McMahon on Raw, MJF would reveal he’s staying at AEW and that could even be around the time of a babyface turn for him.

“Over time, it changed. Fiction became reality in a sense, and it changed into him a legitimate grievance with Khan for not approaching him sooner with a serious offer of a substantial raise to put him at least on par with virtually every other wrestler in the company who was drawing top ratings and being featured consistently in top Pay Per View matches but being paid in most cases, like I said, four to five times more than him.

Observers behind the scenes in AEW indicate MJF’s gone from a demeanor that indicated a passion and an enthusiasm for his job and toward AEW in general, to be more withdrawn and disgruntled. He still showed up and he still did his job on-air, but he was all business and nothing more.”

Wade Keller also reported that Friedman and the AEW President had been close previously, but that their relationship has fractured. There is speculation as to what the exact cause of the frustration is, but something has definitely changed.

“MJF and Tony Khan were really close as recently as late last year. MJF was one of those wrestlers Khan would have long phone conversations with about ideas for storylines and matches. At some point, that relationship fractured and the real reason might be as simple as MJF feeling disrespected that Tony didn’t approach him with the new contract offer sooner.

“It’s possible something else triggered or amplified this the situation but that hasn’t been even hinted at in reports elsewhere or from our sources, but some people are wondering that – is there something else we don’t know about?”

Keller noted that some are wondering if this could be some sort of elaborate work, but that his sources do not believe this is the case.

h/t WrestlingNews.co for the transcription