On a recent episode of the Talk Is Jericho podcast, MLW owner Court Bauer came on to discuss MLW and one of their biggest stars from their relaunch, MJF, who is now in AEW and The Inner Circle with Chris Jericho. Bauer recalled how MJF was recruited into MLW, and he praised MJF’s ability to get heat, take advice, and quickly process information.
“He was a day one guy for us when we restarted the league in 2017, and my right-hand man Jared St. Laurent had seen him on a local show in Florida, of all places,” Bauer revealed. “He’s from the northeast, but he was getting as much experience as he could at the time, and he had been recruiting and looking at talent for a while. And he goes, ‘This kid’s going to be huge. He’s just got IT. He’s got everything. He can talk, he can go, he has really good sense of psychology. He just checks off all the boxes, and he’s a great heel. He knows how to get heat,’ which is a very important quality of wrestling that I think gets overlooked a lot of the time, is understanding how to get heat, the right kind of heat, and how to show ass.
“And Max had an uncanny, quick ability to grasp that and execute it, and he’s one of those guys that, as he came into the system, you could tell him something once and you wouldn’t have to tell him twice; he would understand. The lightbulb goes off and he would take it and then make it his own. So it’s like, ‘Hey, don’t do that, too much gaga. Try to be a more serious heel but also show ass.’ It’s a tight rope to walk that because if you want a guy to be a larger player in your system, you can do some of the gaga. You can do some of that stuff, but you have to show ass and do it at the right time . You got to have real heat.
“You got to have real steam on you, and Max got it, and he always asks the right questions. He asked any question, and he wanted to learn. He certainly had an appetite for the business and an understanding, a baseline understanding. I hadn’t seen many that came in that quick to get acclimated. For a guy that had never done TV, he knew where the cameras were instantly, and intuitively knew where to look for the hard camera, the ringside cameras. He knew that they would find him too, so, just a really unique guy.”
Jericho praised MJF for coming up with good ideas like “Le Dinner Debonair”, noting that he is very hesitant with who he works with. However, he said he enjoys working with MJF because he comes up with a lot of concepts to work with.
“The kid obviously is a natural right from the start, but what I really enjoy is he’s got a lot of great ideas too,” Jericho said. “I’m a big collaborator. I’m very guarded, too. If it’s somebody – not that I don’t respect, but I come from the place that a lot of top guys are going to go do where I think my ideas are better than most. So to get an idea, with me, I really have to like it because I’m at the point in my career where I don’t have to settle.
“I don’t have to be passive aggressive. If I don’t like it, I’ll just say I don’t like it. With him, he comes up with a lot of great stuff which you saw with the ‘Dinner Debonair’ or ‘The Inner Circle Slays Vegas’. He’s right up there with coming up with some of the ideas, and actually, the original idea for the song and dance routine was his, and the original idea to go to Vegas was his.
“And then I think of both of those concepts, and then I kind of take it and expand upon it. So, I like that. He’s got a lot of courage and confidence, and he’s got a lot of great ideas, and thoughts, and contributions to what we’re doing which is always a pleasure.”
Bauer compared MJF to many legends and noted that he is also great at working with others, citing his work with The Dynasty.
“He’s also very generous,” Bauer stated. “We put him in a faction with Alex Hammerstone, who’s incredible, and Richard Holliday, who’s awesome, and they really meshed well. And he helped create this chemistry amongst the three of them, and they became really good friends for real. He has a real high wrestling IQ, and he has that appetite for wrestling.
“And he reminds me a little bit of Eddie Gilbert, a little bit of [Chris] Candido, and Buddy Rogers, and I once told him, ‘if territories still existed, if booker’s were more of a thing today than they really are – it’s like an endangered species – but if there was such a role, he could one day be a really good booker, and I still believe that. I think when his time comes and goes in the ring, he has the ability to be a real excellent booker if he ever desired to do that, if the business changes and goes back in that direction.”
Bauer also recalled a time when WWE and MLW were considering a talent share involving MJF. He said WWE officials were surprised at how young he was. He also talked about how MJF takes things from the past and incorporates them to the modern age.
“At one point, we were doing some business with WWE in 2018 – we were going to. We were fairly friendly I guess you could say, and there was talk about MJF possibly doing a crossover thing with them,” Bauer revealed. “We were taping, primarily at the time, out of Orlando, and they were– NXT, of course, is down the road. So they start asking questions about him, and one of the things they asked was, ‘So he’s what, 26, 28, 29?’ I’m like, ‘No dude, he’s 21.’ They’re like, ‘What?’ I’m like, ‘Does he look that way, or just the experience? What is it,’ and I remember telling MJF that.
“He’s like, ‘I don’t know if I should take that as a compliment or an insult.’ I’m like, ‘I don’t know either.’ He has certain qualities you just don’t see in a lot of wrestling. A lot of wrestling, I think, as JR would say, ‘Do you have the sizzle there or what?’ And he kind of blends a lot of those qualities. Very much a throwback, but he doesn’t think he’s a throwback. He just takes those positive attributes and incorporates it into a modern character that works.”
Bauer has spoken before and said that MLW talent getting picked up by other promotions only benefits MLW. He used Brian Pillman Jr. as an example of someone who came into the MLW system and has grown into a bigger star outside of MLW.
“Well, I think it’s the biggest compliment in a weird way, where it’s like, if you create a scenario where they come in at one level and you and the talent get them to a certain level, and they leave with tenfold the awareness, interest, momentum, and people offering six-figure contracts and having a bidding war for them, it’s like, man, mission accomplished,” Bauer explained. “I got what I got out of you.
“I know there’s a set end date, and the fans got their beginning, and their middle, and end of their story arc, and that, to me, was always what I’m looking to accomplish. For example, when Brian Pillman came in, he had only 30 matches and really was just kind of picking up dates. He only had 30 matches. Not a lot of people wanted to book him and I was crazy enough to do it, but then, by the time he’s left, he’s now worked with Tommy Dreamer.
“He’s been put in a blanket and bundled and given more from the system, but also from guys like Davey Boy Smith Jr. and working with a lot of top talent like that too. So he emerges out of that from 30 matches, not getting a lot of bookings to being very hot, and then the fans are going to have their beginning, their middle, and the end.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.