AEW World Champion MJF has always enjoyed walking the fine line between fact and fiction with his promos. He’ll go into detail about his soon-to-expire contract, and banter that AEW’s Tony Khan needs to get ready to pay him enough to stop him from going elsewhere. But then he’ll also discuss why he committed a felony, driving an ambulance back to the Kia Forum at the pay-per-view event Full Gear 2023 so that he could defend his title against Jay White.
The press conference after AEW Full Gear 2023 on Saturday night was another case study of how MJF gracefully shows both parts of reality and kayfabe together. How much of it is on display at any moment is up for interpretation, of course. When his promo skills are at their best, it really doesn’t matter whether you’re getting MJF the character or MJF the person.
MJF’s tearful, passionate speech that opened the Full Gear press conference was the highlight of the broadcast. Screaming, crying, and swearing in excess, MJF discussed how proud he was of the AEW roster as a whole, along with his performance.
“Jay White … He’s a great athlete and an incredibly professional wrestler,” said MJF at the presser. He then discussed the deathmatch between Swerve Strickland and Hangman Page that happened earlier in the night, a match that received massive praise after it finished. “And Shane Strickland is an incredible professional wrestler. And Hangman Page is. And to have to follow a match like that, and to follow a show like that, is not easy.”
“It’s my job, no matter what happens before me, to either match it or raise that bar,” MJF said later about the match between Strickland and Page. “Let me tell you something, that was not an easy f****** bar to hop over.” MJF went on to say that the performance between Strickland and Page might have been the best deathmatch ever.
Emotion came out once again when MJF was asked to whom he dedicated his match against White. MJF brought up the passing of his grandfather, who died three years ago. He said that his grandfather was a friend who cared about him and then mentioned how much of a friend Adam Cole, who stood nearby in crutches, was as well.
On TV, MJF and Cole are portrayed as close friends, but I honestly am not too in the know about how close they are outside of the ring. Call it incurious, but for these press conferences, I don’t care to know. There’s a lot of truth that comes out during these pressers, and MJF provided interesting and sober insight into the politics of being a successful young wrestler later on. But when the lines are blurred, it’s better to simply just enjoy the ride and listen to MJF’s skills as an orator.
Will Ospreay Goes Into Why He Picked AEW
Just hours after Will Ospreay’s signing with AEW was announced, he spoke about what brought him to the promotion on a full-time basis.
The elephant in the room — how Ospreay signed with AEW while his NJPW contract is still scheduled to run until February of next year — was not addressed by him. Ospreay admitted in all honesty that he didn’t actually know how AEW and NJPW worked out the deal. Later in the press conference, Khan discussed that he reached an agreement with NJPW this week to make a deal with Ospreay.
“It means the world to have Will appear in AEW as a guest. And to have the thought that Will could leave our orbit and not be around us, and more so the idea that Will could be here with us all the time. And in the limited amount of times that he’s been here, he’s made a huge impact.”
Khan also discussed that he thought it was important to lock Ospreay in for AEW All In 2024 — which will be their second trip to Wembley Stadium — before tickets go on sale soon: “I want you to know that you’re going to see Will Ospreay at Wembley Stadium and he’s gonna be with us next year, so there’s no uncertainty. That was really important.”
While Ospreay wasn’t able to go into details about how the deal was made, he did open up about what exactly made him choose AEW.
“I’ve built up trust and rapport with Tony [Khan] … Right now this is the best decision for me and my family. I’m not interrupting my kids’ school. My missus can see her parents. I get to be one of the best pro wrestlers that have ever done it and I get to do it now on weekly TV and I get to really test myself in these waters.”
Ospreay was full of praise for the place that will soon be his former home, NJPW. Discussing the place where he spent eight years, he said he wouldn’t be where he is with the promotion. He specifically mentioned his Best of the Super Junior match against Ricochet, a 2016 match that he said helped make him known.
“It’s a true blessing that I just got to be a wrestler there … Every mile was worth it.”
Julia Hart Reflects On Being A Champion At 22
Just after winning the TBS Championship in a three-way against defending champ Kris Statlander and Skye Blue, Julia Hart reflected on how quickly she has been launched into a major title program.
Hart mentioned that being the youngest champion in AEW history came with the fact that she learned and grew up in front of an international audience. In 2021, her ninth-ever wrestling match happened in an AEW ring. And now, at 22 years old, she’s a champion that is appearing weekly on Dynamite. While she doesn’t enjoy parts of her career, like reflecting on an early cheerleader gimmick which she said made the locker room take her less seriously, it was all part of a journey that has hotshot her into the big-time TV spotlight.
“I told myself ‘When I’m 26 I hope I’m on TV,’ said Hart. “And [now] I’m 22 winning a belt. I’m trying not to think too hard about it because it’s just so crazy.”
Big Cass Opens Up On Comeback
One of the highlights of Saturday night’s press conference was a moment from one-half of the AEW Tag Team Champions, Big Bill. After winning a four-way ladder match and continuing his title reign alongside Ricky Starks, Bill went into details about a battle with alcoholism that he had shortly after his WWE release and before he made his return with AEW last year.
“In 2018, 2019, I was at the lowest point of my life. My addiction was in full force,” Bill said at the press conference. “I didn’t leave my apartment. I was drinking all day, from sun up to sundown. I never thought I’d be back in professional wrestling. I thought I was just going to keep existing a miserable existence like I was, staring out my apartment window at the sunset every single day as I drank myself to death. I guess the lightbulb went off, and I think wrestling was a big part of how I got sober. My first love in life has always been professional wrestling … There came a moment where I actually believe if I got back on track I could make it back to the top of professional wrestling … I did exactly what I thought I would do.”