When MJF won the AEW Champion at Full Gear 2022, nobody knew how his title reign was going to go.
He had been missing from AEW all summer on the lead up to All Out 2022, after a controversial walkout before a match with Wardlow at Double or Nothing 2022.
However, he soon had the crowd back on his side, using them to help him win the title and start MJF’s AEW Championship reign, that could last until his contract expires in 2024.
MJF Won The AEW Championship From Jon Moxley At Full Gear
After returning from a multi-month lay-off, MJF returned under a mask as “The Devil” to win the Casino Ladder Match at All Out 2022.
This earned him a shot at the AEW Championship. CM Punk won the title at All Out, but due to injuries and suspension, Jon Moxley won the vacated championship some weeks later.
For weeks, MJF teased “cashing in” his chip (although with the approval of Tony Khan), until finally announcing where his title match would be – Full Gear 2022.
The match went on last at the show, and was MJF’s first main event singles match since he faced Moxley almost 2 years prior, at All Out 2020.
The match was a classic MJF main event, a back-and-fourth encounter filled with fun unique spots, mesmerizing sequence and, of course, heaps of cheating.
MJF picked up the win due to interference from William Regal, who turned on his Blackpool Combat Club partner to help MJF pick up his first Championship in AEW.
Soon after, he turned on William Regal, sending him packing and placing himself alone, on the top of the AEW ladder. It was his crowning glory, and despite receiving huge cheers prior to the match at Full Gear, MJF was not once again the most hated heel in the game.
His First Defense Was Against Ricky Starks At Winter Is Coming 2022
While fans were fantasy booking huge matches against the likes of Kenny Omega, or Adam Page, MJF’s first title defences was a much more muted affair, but one entirely welcome.
As the winner of the Dynamite Diamond Ring Battle Royal, Ricky Starks had the opportunity to face two-time ring holder MJF in a match to take home the coveted ring.
This somehow morphed into a double-title match, with both the Dynamite Diamond Ring and the AEW Champion put on the line, in a huge match at AEW Winter is Coming 2022.
On the run-up to the match, both men cut some of the best promos of their career, although the focus was truly on building up Ricky Starks as a main event face.
They did just that, as Starks had some of the biggest pops on the show (and continues to do so), despite losing both prizes to MJF in a fantastic bout.
MJF vs Bryan Danielson Was One Of AEW’s Best Ever Matches
MJF’s second title defense was nothing short of one of the greatest matches of all time.
Now, that claim gets thrown around a lot these days, but this one can legitimately hold that title – and for good reason.
MJF’s title reign had been slightly lacklustre up until the match. After the fantastic Ricky Starks match, he treaded water for a while, struggling to maintain his momentum.
Bryan Danielson eventually challenged him for the title, although the feud originally felt like a bit of a rehash.
MJF suggested that he force Danielson through his usual gauntlet, before he could face MJF. The same fate befell Cody Rhodes, Chris Jericho and Wardlow, so the concept felt a bit samey.
However, Danielson was smart. He simply refused. He know that, if he wrestled enough matches (and he knew was good enough to win) he would top the rankings and earn his title match.
This angered MJF. He lost his cool, offering Danielson a choice. He runs his gauntlet, and Danielson could choose the stipulation for their match at AEW Revolution 2023.
Bryan Danielson accepted, beat the opponents MJF had for him (and handily) and picked the stipulation that gave him the best chance to win the AEW Championship from MJF – a 60 minute Iron Man match.
The match was not no-DQ, so any disqualifications or count-outs would count as a point for the other team. This added an extra element and stopped MJF from cheating his way to victory.
The AEW Champion forced Bryan Danielson to tap out in overtime, retaining his title and showing the world he is one of the best in the world. The match lasted 67 minutes and is the longest match in AEW history.
The pair drew 3-3 in normal time, with MJF using a kick to nuts (costing him one fall) to pin Danielson twice, going 2-1 up. Danielson then pinned him for another fall, before the pair traded submission to level it 3-3.
MJF then sneakily hit Danielson with a fire extinguisher to stun him, before forcing him to tap out with The American Dragon’s own LaBelle Lock.
This has been called the best Iron Man match ever, as well as the best match in AEW history.
The Four Pillars Matches Outdid Expectations At Double Or Nothing
Four of AEW’s top young stars battled in the AEW Championship match at Double or Nothing 2023, in MJF’s toughest test yet.
In this four way match, he did not need to be pinned to lose the match. This added more jeopardy, and forced him to truly fight to keep hold of his gold.
MJF was forced to defend his AEW Championship against the rest of the four pillars at Double or Nothing, facing off with Jungle Boy, Darby Allin and Sammy Guevara.
After being bumped from the main event, the AEW Champion MJF and his fellow four pillars had a lot to prove at Double or Nothing 2023.
They left it all in the ring, working at a lightning pace, not stopping for breath in all-time great match.
MJF won the match by pinning Darby Allin after a headlock takeover, echoing his win over the star at Full Gear 2021.
The build for the match had exposed Sammy Guevara and Jungle Boy’s credentials as main eventers, but they proved everything wrong with the incredible title match at Double or Nothing.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.