Wardlow, MJF and Mark Sterling: AEW’s Gift that Keeps on Giving

Wardlow and MJF

When AEW broke up MJF and Wardlow, they created two bonafide stars in the process. Now as the story keeps playing out, Wardlow, MJF, and Mark Sterling, Esq., are AEW’s gift that keeps on giving. 

On Wednesday, AEW will have a first-of-its-kind match: a class action 20-on-1 handicap elimination match. Now, handicap matches are nothing new, not even of the 20 vs 1 variety. But this is where the brilliance of AEW’s recent booking, at least when it comes to this story, comes in. Because it wasn’t enough that Wardlow freed himself from the bonds of MJF‘s indentured servitude. No, Mr. Mayhem hadn’t won just yet. Enter Mark Sterling, Esq., and his class-action lawsuit on behalf of the American Arena Security Professionals, who Wardlow had been pushing around for months in the midst of his blood feud with his former employer. Sterling, who himself was thrown through a table by Wardlow in recent weeks, put on his lawyer hat as AEW created a fake (but very real-inspired) commercial advertising the settlement to all “black shirt security guards” who had been “thrown into a garage door…thrown into a box” and had their shirt ripped off while just trying to do their jobs.

Sterling, who is also attempting a class action for anyone or their loved ones who have been cursed by Danhausen, is at the center of this because he represents MJF, the true villain in this story. Yet through this angle, which will in fact see Wardlow try to fight his way out of the class action by physically eliminating each black shirt security guard from the match (not sure that’s how the legal system works), the raging war between Wardlow and MJF can continue without either man needing to fight the other again just yet. Especially given MJF’s own worked/shoot story at the moment, which has fans in disagreement over if the storyline really is just kayfabe or something more. Thanks to Sterling, MJF’s legacy and the feuds he left behind, can continue with the same veracity as before.

At its core, that’s been the beauty of this angle. AEW is known for its long-term booking and the Wardlow/MJF feud is a prime example. Tensions between the two simmered for months before Wardlow finally snapped, kickstarting what fans had been waiting to happen. Everyone knew an MJF/Wardlow feud would be money, and the feud did not disappoint, delivering on those expectations and then some. The feud allowed both MJF and Wardlow to shine. It allowed both to advance their own respective storylines while also culminating in the battle everyone wanted to see. Wardlow endured the torture and torment. He wrestled only when his boss allowed him to. He entered the ring in chains and with no music playing. He wasn’t allowed to contend for championships. MJF was the quintessential villain and in doing so, he made Wardlow the undeniable babyface.

Both men are now on different paths but one thing is certain. Their star power has grown tremendously throughout the course of this year-plus-long feud. And it seems like it’s not over yet. Because should Wardlow achieve his dream of becoming the AEW World Champion, there is no one better to take that title away from him than Maxwell Jacob Friedman himself. Perhaps a double turn would be in order. Or maybe MJF would be the heel champion AEW has lacked since the days when Kenny Omega held the belt. One thing is for certain. When MJF comes back, it may not be to a hero’s welcome but it certainly will be to tremendous fanfare. Whether you love to hate him or hate to love him, MJF is one of the stars AEW can build its future around as long as he’s not lured away to another company first. Wardlow, he’s someone who AEW can also build around. And years from now when the two are still fighting forever a la Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn or John Cena and Randy Orton, fans can look back on this feud as the one that started it all.

Because week in and week out, the confrontations and antics of MJF, Wardlow, and Sterling have been must-see TV. That AEW has managed to keep a contract dispute, lawsuit, and their ramifications so interesting after all these months is testament to the people involved in the angle. Tonight’s class action handicap match on AEW Dynamite will be no exception.

Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on AEW Rampage spoilers and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world. As well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world.  You can catch AEW Dynamite Wednesday nights at 8 PM ET on TBS and AEW Dark: Elevation (Monday nights) and AEW: Dark (Tuesday nights) at 7 PM ET on YouTube. AEW Rampage airs on TNT at 10 PM EST every Friday night.