A Path: MJF vs Malakai Black
By Jay Stringer
If wrestling is fixed, why does it always seem so broken?
So many pieces, just waiting to be put together in the right way. It seems you can have Kenny Omega and Claudio Castagnoli on the same roster without giving them a singles feud. I hear tales of building a mega-over wrestler with a 60-0 run who never gets a shot at the women’s world championship. Somebody once told me you could have Cody Rhodes, Brian Pillman JR, Brock AND Arn Anderson all on the road at the same time without putting a legacy faction together. But I simply wouldn’t believe you could ever have a woman’s RoH champion doing great work without ever getting to be involved in any television work. Nobody would make that mistake.
As two particular examples today, let’s take a world champion without an obvious challenger, and an antihero without a clear singles direction. MJF’s original story seems clear enough to me. CM Punk takes the belt off Hangman Adam Page, leading to a summer of Punk while MJF sits at home off TV. MJF returns to challenge Punk in the match to complete the trilogy, taking the title with the torch passed. Instead, Punk gets injured, goes home. Punk returns. Punk gets injured. Mox passes the torch instead. Punk comes back, carries around his own version of the title belt, and clearly the trilogy is back on. And then…well. The third match just doesn’t want to happen.
I wasn’t sold on the idea of turning MJF face. He’s such a great heel. However, he is now proving why he really is a generational talent. Comparisons to Punk have always been obvious because it’s an influence Max wears on his sleeve. But looking at his current run I can’t help but see several touches of Eddy Guerrero. The face who cheats, the laughing, winking, heelish hero, with the crowd eating up every move.
Meanwhile Tommy End switches from being Aleister Black to Malakai Black, builds a cool faction and then…doesn’t get to do much. Trios titles, okay. But The House of Black seems like a story engine that has never been revved up. Malakai, Buddy Matthews, Brody King and Julia Hart. How do you mess that up?
So here we go. The obvious fix.
MJF and Malakai Black need to feud.
The face whose heroism lies in cheating versus the heel whose villainy lies in telling the truth. Two people known for mind games, trying to one-up each other. Black can play the MJF role in in a runback and reversal on MJF’s feud with Punk. Calling Max out for becoming PG or soft, sort of like Jay White just did. Challenging him to find the real devil inside once again. Black is the wrestler who can really get under MJF’s skin by telling the truth. By twisting it, exposing it. Trotting out all MJF’s doubts. All his fears, insecurities, demons. The one who can tempt him back towards the dark side, the one who can appeal to his lower angels.
And not only that, but the presence of the whole House of Black would provide enough juice to stretch this thing out all the way to Winter Is Coming (mainly because I think it would lead to a great match graphic). Max can feud/fight with Buddy Matthews (I need this match to happen) and Brody King (I need need this match to happen). Max - who now doesn’t have his brochacho on the scene due to injury – can find out if he has any friends in the locker room who will back him up in a trios match. FTR? Two of the four Pillars? Wardlow and Spears? Some guy from Chicago magically ‘rehired’? Personally, I’d put Eddie Kingston in the mix somewhere, because I get all kinds of excited at the thought of the promos we’d get from the two of them teaming up to fight a common enemy. Women can be thrown into this mini-faction war (because we need more women involved in these stories) by finding someone to take Max’s side opposite Julia Hart. Statlander? They have a fun history. Skye Blue? Jade Carg….oh.
Each one of these pieces can then be taken apart and put back together later for new feuds, each one spinning off into their own narratives. Eddie versus the House of Black? Eddie Versus MJF? Statlander tempted to turn heel and join the House of Black? I want one of two people to dethrone Max. Either Eddie in a feel-good moment that unifies the AEW and RoH world titles, or Swerve given the chance to shine. Both could be set up effectively as the next logical move out of the wreckage left at the end of a months-long feud between MJF and the House of Black. And all the while, in the background, pulling the strings, playing the mind games, Malakai Black.
Devil versus Devil.
Into my veins.
Or, you know, Switchblade Jay White for the time being. Whatevs.
Bio: Jay Stringer was born in 1980 and he’s not dead yet. An award-nominated writer of crime and adventure fiction, he has also performed stand-up comedy, worked as a bike courier and debt collector, and spends too much time thinking about the Replacements.