The twists and turns regarding MJF’s standoff with Tony Khan continue to come think and fast as a new report claims he’s being paid up to five times less than some ex-WWE stars.
For a number of months MJF has been hinting, often without subtlety, that he is open to moving to WWE when his contract expires in January 2024.
The star first suggested that he wanted to incite a bidding war between his current employer and WWE seemingly as a storyline, before the tension became very real backstage.
On May 28th, the day before Double or Nothing, MJF no-showed a fan-fest event leading many to question whether he would appear as advertised for his clash against Wardlow. As it transpired, he did appear and follow through with the bout as planned.
Meanwhile, a new report from Wade Keller of PWTorch, speaking on PWTorchVIP.com has claimed that the ‘Salt of the Earth’ is being paid substantially less than a number of other stars, despite a pay-rise in January. Furthermore, several ex-WWE stars, including Mark Henry who is yet to compete in an AEW ring, are earning four or five times more than him.
“For the better part of two months, there has been tension between MJF and Tony Khan and initially appeared to be sparked by MJF not going through AEW’s PR department to schedule an interview that he did with Ariel Helwani in early April. Now, back at that time, I was told that the interview would have been approved had MJF gone through proper channels…and he didn’t and he was reprimanded for it because it was bypassing standard protocol.
A key source in AEW though indicates Tony Khan wasn’t all that upset about the situation. It was just something he felt he needed to bring up to MJF, like, ‘Hey, don’t do that next time…’ Now, other sources indicate that the conversation didn’t go well, because from there, it veered into MJF expressing his bitterness over his contract status, and that it was a breaking point in their relationship.
MJF has since made it clear that he’s unhappy that he wasn’t given an early contract renegotiation offer. His current deal expires in just over 18 months at the very start of 2024, January 1, in fact. MJF signed an original starter contract with AEW that was in the range of probably dozens of other early signees who have been with AEW ever since.
Some have been cut, some have stayed in the lower cards, some have moved to the mid-card, a couple maybe moved to the upper card. Nobody’s moved higher than MJF, among those on those starter deals. And by a starter deal, a very broad loose range is like $40,000 to $70,000. Like, you can make a living but you know, it’s a starter deal. And some might not even be making $40,000.
I know there’s some people who are just on a per date basis. But this was among the people who started signing starter contracts, people without a lot of leverage and any national TV exposure. And Tony was at a point where he’s handing out a bunch of contracts and wanted to see who would be good and who wouldn’t be, you know, who we wanted to stick with and who we wouldn’t.
And so a lot of money goes out to a lot of people when you get that starter contract. And the idea for Tony is, you know, when they come to the ones who deserve it, will get a raise.
By the way, MJF was given a raise once since he signed with AEW. So he’s making substantially more than the starter contract, like hundreds of thousands of dollars but it is modest compared to the contracts of more than a half a dozen free agent signings AEW has made over the past year…Christian, Mark Henry, Malakai Black, Adam Cole, Bryan Danielson, CM Punk. There’s six right there. And I know I’m leaving off a few more…All of them are making more than MJF right now. Like I’m told that with confidence.
So yes, he got a substantial raise percentage-wise, but it’s modest compared to the contracts of more than half a dozen free agents just in the last year that AEW paid, including wrestlers nowhere near his stature as a top tier main event star and ratings draw. I think everybody would agree Bryan Danielson and CM Punk deserve more than MJF.
You would argue Adam Cole should probably be in the ballpark. And if he’s paid more, it’s not like a huge deal but MJF has been way more valuable to AEW than Adam Cole…if you look at Christian, Malakai Black, Mark Henry… I mean, he’s obviously worth more and has been worth more to the company, and he’s just not getting paid near what they’re getting paid in, in most cases, actually many cases.
In many cases, those wrestlers are getting paid four or five times more than him…So, you know, MJF is by all accounts is kind of fuming over this. He felt that his work, his professionalism, his rapport and friendship with Tony Kahn would have led to Tony renegotiating his deal, when there was about two years left.
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…”
It was reported on May 30th that MJF didn’t head home following Double or Nothing, instead he was scheduled to have a sit down meeting with AEW President Tony Khan.
H/t to WrestlingNews.co for the transcription.