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By Mike Johnson on 2021-05-30 10:15:00

In advance of tonight's AEW Double or Nothing PPV, MJF sat down with to discuss the event, The Stadium Stampede, Chris Jericho, comparisons to the late Chris Candido, enjoying that he's a polarizing figure and much more.  This interview was conducted on May 26th.

Mike Johnson: Sunday evening, the third-ever AEW Double or Nothing pay-per-view  features the second-ever "Stadium Stampede" as The Inner Circle faces The Pinnacle, led into battle by one of the most captivating antagonists who have come along in professional wrestling in many years, MJF, who is our guest at this time.  We've spoken in the past. We have not spoken of late. You have grown exponentially as a performer, as a personality, as a captivating professional wrestler, doing everything from the "Dinner Debonair" to battles with Jungle Boy to Blood & Guts wars. How are you and how are you looking forward to "Double or Nothing"?

MJF: Mike, you're truly making me blush. Please stop. But seriously, keep going. No, I'm great. Obviously, I'm great. I'm the greatest of all time after defeating Chris Jericho, not once, but twice. I'm very excited. I'm looking forward to this because, quite frankly, I am so sick and tired of The Inner Circle and I say deep down, everybody is. We beat them clean at "Blood & Guts." I've beaten Chris Jericho clean, smack dab in the middle of the ring at Full Gear, and we're going to beat them clean again, except this time, they're not going to be able to come back up, annoy us and pester us. No, no. This time, they will have to break up forever, and it's going to be, oh so sweet.

Mike Johnson: You've been had a lot of opportunities since AEW was first formed. How do you gauge or how do you compare the-

MJF: No, no, no.  Mike. Mike, for the love of God, taken them. I've taken every single opportunity. From the jump, I was not supposed to be, and I hate to say this, because I think I'm a salt of the earth guy, but I was not supposed to be the quote-unquote "number one villain" in professional wrestling. That was not my spot to have. That was for the EVP's. That was for the friends of the EVPs.   That was not the old MJF. But what happened was, is I forced their hand. They had absolutely no choice.  The first time you saw me on AEW programming, they handed me a microphone. They said, "Kid, if you're so great, you keep flapping your gums on the back, and you're so great, how about you cut a promo on Bret Hart and hang man out of page, in front of a sold-out crowd?" Deal. And then, I walked out there, and I cut one of the greatest promos in the history of professional wrestling, and I was just getting started. And that's when everybody said, "Oh, shit. He's going to take my spot." And then, I did. That's why I'm already a legend at 25. That's why I'm already the greatest of all time. So no, I did not get an opportunity. I took an opportunity, Mike.

Mike Johnson: Okay. How do you gauge having the ability to take an opportunity to face Chris Jericho, to be across the ring from Chris Jericho, to team with Chris Jericho? How do you compare that to the other opportunities you've taken thus far in AEW?

MJF: Look, I'm not going to lie here. I grew up idolizing Chris Jericho. Chris Jericho was a God to me, and being able to have tagged with him for as long as I did meant the world. I was able to learn from him. Whether he wanted me to or not, I would take his lane. I was able to learn from Chris Jericho. But if I'm being completely blunt, the tables have turned a little bit, where at first, it was a big-time, amazing, spectacular thing for me to be able to share the ring with Christopher. Now, it's a big-time, spectacular thing for him to be able to share the ring with me because I'm the hottest thing going in professional wrestling. It was Chris. It was Chris for 30-plus years. Now, it's MJF. So if anything, I think the real question is "Why do you keep allowing Chris Jericho to share the spotlight with you, MJF?" And my answer is, because I'm a saltier type of guy

Mike Johnson: We've talked in the past about performers that you've studied. Just a few weeks ago, I had Jonny Candido on, the younger brother of Chris Candido, and he talked about what a joy it is to see that you've kind of carried a lot of the things that Chris Candido carried in the ring. What does that mean to you? And I'm curious as you've continued to evolve with AEW and beyond, how has what you've studied changed, given the ability to kind of pick the brains of different veterans who were there in AEW now?

MJF: Well, first of all, to just go off the Chris Candido thing. Again, very tangibly, very honestly, as I'm only able to [inaudible 0:00:00:04:54], one of the first write-ups about me was done by a guy named Mike Johnson, and it was at a CCW show, and he said I reminded him of Chris Candido.

Mike Johnson: This is true.

MJF: And I remember reading that, and I was already a huge fan of Chris, and it meant the world to me. But to then go on and study him even more, and then, to have his brother, who now a couple of times, have gone out of the way to just say to people, "This guy is the real deal. This guy reminds me of my brother." Now, when you're talking about somebody that's passed away, you're already going to put them on a pedestal because you miss them. You love them. You cherished them as not just a human being, but as a memory, but to then go even further as to offend someone's brother, obviously, nobody's going to idolize Chris Candido more than Jonny, and for Jonny to make the claim that I remind him of Chris is really, really, really cool.

Outside of that, yes, I studied the Tully Blanchards and the Arn Andersons and the Dean Malenkos, and now, I get to work with them. And now, I get to pick their brains, again, whether they like it or not. Tully enjoys it. Dean, not so much. Me and Dean don't get along, really. Arn, not so much. I don't really care for him as a human being because he's with Cody, but I do pick his brain. I pick everyone's brain, even Jerry Lynn, that's their bag, but I pick everyone's brain because unlike everybody else in my generation who only cares about the moves, I care about making sure, psychologically, I am able to not only get inside the minds of my opponent but get inside the minds and hearts of the fans that are watching me so that when they turn the show off, they're only thinking about one person. And it's yours truly, Maxwell Jacob Friedman.

Mike Johnson: When you look at the responses that you have received from fans, positive and negative, to things like "Dinner Debonair" or the "Blood & Guts" match or different promos that you've done, how do you gauge that reaction and how much of it kind of changes how you present yourself going forward? I feel like you're kind of almost like the Emperor in "Star Wars" where if there's something negative, you take the energy and it helps you kind of enhance yourself. But when you see such a visceral reaction to something like Dinner Debonair or the Blood & Guts match, how does it govern how you move yourself and propel yourself forward?

MJF: I love it. I feel like I'm just an agent of chaos, at this point. I'm one of the most polarizing, if not the most polarizing thing, in not just professional wrestling, but all of the media. And I love that. I was despised when I flipped off that snot-nose Brad at a signing. I was on TMZ. I was despised after I cut the promo behind the podium on Jon Moxley. I was despised after Dinner Debonair.  I was despised after Blood & Guts, and I'm going to continue to be despised, and people are going to continue to have split opinions about me. And the reason that I'm happy about that is because no matter what I do, people have to talk about me, and they can't help it. I'm the most talked about guy in this business right now, and that's pretty crazy, considering the fact that I'm in a company that's not even two years old yet and I think that's the power of me, as a performer, that I am able to bring such a massive spotlight to All Elite Wrestling. Honestly, I feed off of it. I love it. But the one thing, no matter what happens weekend and week out on Dynamite, that I am so glad has stopped, is the comparisons. I have almost not seen any comparisons since I debuted. When I debuted, I was compared to EC3 and Miz. And again, that's not a dig, but that's not a knock, which is why it sounds so interesting. I think both of those guys are tremendous performers, but now, nobody's comparing me anymore because I'm impossible to compare. How do you compare perfection? It's impossible, and it's cool to see now, even though these people hate me and they do after. After they're done burying me as a human being, they can't help but put over the fact that I am the top villain right now in professional wrestling, and I'm damn proud of it.

Mike Johnson: Obviously, you've been with Wardlow for quite a long time in AEW, but what was it like finding the rhythm and the chemistry with the other members of The Pinnacle as you presented this group and help bring it up to main-event level?

MJF: It's honestly been a breeze, man, because we all love pro wrestling and moreover, we all love old-school professional wrestling, and what's old is new. Everybody else wants to go out there and perform, in my opinion, not professional wrestling, but ballet. And pro wrestling, I'm sure you've heard this a million times ... pro wrestling is not ballet. Pro wrestling is physical. Pro wrestling is intense. Pro wrestling is damaging. And I like that. I like ... not only in the ring, but I like grabbing a microphone and being real. I'm real in the ring. I'm real on the mic. So is Dax. So is Cash. So is [inaudible 0:00:10:27]. So is Tully, and so is Wardlow. And that's why we all get along. It's because we take this very, very seriously, and we're all very passionate. And that's why we can call ourselves "Pinnacle" in this group session because you can't take your eyes off of us.

Mike Johnson:  We had Santana from The Inner Circle on earlier this week, and he said that his prediction for the "Stadium Stampede" is that we would see a lot less of the type of shenanigans that we saw last year, which were very entertaining, and a lot more of a violent encounter. Heading into the "Stadium Stampede" this weekend, obviously, you won't shy away from "Blood & Guts." We just saw you become victorious and that sort of match against The Inner Circle. What can you foresee and what sort of vision can you give us for what we can expect to "Double or Nothing" in the "Stadium Stampede" match?

MJF: Again, I'm going to use the word "real" there. We don't like each other, and I know people are going to listen to that and be like, "Oh, that's BS. I get it. They're just trying to get people excited for this matchup." I can tell you, genuinely, Santana and Ortiz, they viscerally hate Dax and Cash. They came from two entirely different sides of America. I can tell you that Sammy Guevara and Shawn Spears don't like each other. A guy like Shawn Spears has been a veteran in the sport for 19 years doesn't exactly take kindly to this new, young, up-and-comer who gets way more spotlight and way more opportunity than him. You think that doesn't stick this crop? And then, you got me and Chris. Do you think Chris Jericho enjoys having to play second fiddle to a 25year old?  No. We all don't like each other, genuinely. And that's why, when you watch back "Blood & Guts," forget about all of the BS that people like to talk about. I'm talking about the match. When you watch that match, it was violent. It was visceral. Again, I'll use the word. It was real. And I can assure you, there will be no jokes. There will be no puns. There will be no one-liners at "Stadium Stampede" because I'm going to be too busy bashing Chris Jericho's brains in to assure that The Inner Circle stops getting in The Pinnacle's way so we can finally prove what we've been saying all along and all become champions. They have been stopping us from being able to do that. They have been tests, and I am very, very much so looking forward to showing the world what The Pinnacle's vision of "Stadium Stampede" is. And that vision is violence.

Mike Johnson: When you were done with "Stadium Stampede," what's next on the agenda for MJF and AEW, if you have your druthers and you can pick your spot?

MJF: Like I said, it's gotten very frustrating for me. The fact of the matter is, I should be champion right now, Dictator Jon cheated. He used an illegal maneuver that he was not meant to be allowed to use in the matchup. The referee didn't see it, and I lost a match that should have been seen and I should have been given the championship. Now, after that happened, I have gotten tied up ever since then with Chris Jericho and his gang of misfits. I should be a world champion right now, and when I am done with Chris Jericho and his misfits, as long as people stop pestering me and allow me to get into my legacy and what I was born to do, I will be the AEW World champion. And I will have a reign that will make the likes of Bruno Sammartino blush.

Mike Johnson: All right. Well, I thank you for joining us. We always like to close this out with a fun and different question. So as someone who appeared many years ago on The Rosie O'Donnell Show and obviously has an affinity for musical theater, as we saw with Dinner Debonair, what are your thoughts on Broadway opening up again this fall?

MJF: Goodbye, Mike.

AEW Double or Nothing airs tonight on PPV and Bleacher Report in the United States, as well as FITE.TV internationally.

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