MJF Recalls His Brief Indie Run As Pete Lightning

Before MJF became the reigning heel of AEW, he spent three years in the indie Combat Zone Wrestling promotion focused in New Jersey. But during his first year with CZW, he was saddled with a name that he never loved. In an interview with Vulture, MJF was reminded of his CZW moniker "Pete Lightning," but pointed out the persona and wrestling style that defines today's MJF was present during that time.

"There was no difference," he said. "I used to wrestle five times a week when I was on the independent circuit — I would get in a car with some of the other guys at Create a Pro, and we would drive to Blackwood, New Jersey, for Dojo Wars to wrestle in front of five people with five teeth among all of them."

MJF added that he was forced to take on the name against his will.

"The promoter at the time told me that he wanted to change my name to Pete Lightning," he continued. "I told him to blow me. He told me, 'Do it, or I won't consider you to be on the main CZW shows.' I was like, 'Whatever,' so I did it."

MJF recalled that while he was Pete Lightning he "wrestled every single Wednesday for, I think, a full calendar year" at CZW's New Jersey location before being added to the promotion's main roster. With typical MJF immodesty, he insisted he was "better than all of them on day one, but unfortunately, I had to prove my stock by being Pete Lightning."

MJF dropped the Pete Lightning name after his first year with CZW and began to stand out in the promotion through his feuds with Trevor Lee and Joey Janela over the CZW Wired Championship. His penchant for feuding was on display again when he beat Jon Moxley at Saturday's AEW Full Gear to become AEW's new world champion