How Maxwell Friedman Turned Into Pro Wrestler “MJF”

“What I think is that he’s a cocky kid, very self-confident, very self-assured, and he has the skill and talent to back it up,” said WWE Hall Of Famer Jim Ross

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Max Friedman grew up in Plainview, New York and has become somewhat of a hometown hero now that he’s officially begun his pro-wrestling career. Friedman goes by Maxwell Jacob Friedman, or MJF, when he’s in the ring, and now that he’s signed to All Elite Wrestling (AEW), the main competitor to the more mainstreamed World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) network, there’s no stopping the 23-year-old from becoming one of the greatest of all time. 

Friedman’s been watching wrestling since he was 5-years-old and would go to the video store with his father to pick up some classic WWE pay per view matches, it was in those moments that Friedman recalls falling in love with the sport for the first time. 

“I was immediately hooked, and then I just started digging deeper, you go on YouTube, you search the catalogs. I found this guy whose feet were up on the desk, he was chomping on gum real loud, you could tell he was talking to someone that was his boss but he didn’t seem to care,” Friendman is referring to legendary wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, “Once I saw Roddy Piper I knew exactly what I was going to be doing when I grew up,” explained Friedman in a recent interview

Friedman went to Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK High School and beyond the wrestling team, MJF spent his high school years singing in choir and a cappella. However, football soon became his passion towards the end of his time at JFK High School. Friedman recalls one of his favorite parts of playing football included playing in another team’s hometown and “enjoying every second of anger on the crowd’s face” whenever he scored, which he did quite often.

“He put on a show, he let people know that he was there … And the way he would walk over people after he made tackles. He wasn’t the biggest guy, you know. For a kid that was probably about 5-10, 190 pounds [he would] tackle some of the biggest kids in Nassau County football. And he’d stare at you. He was one of those kids,” Plainview-Old Bethpage head coach Chris Rogler said of Friedman’s time with the Hawks.

Friedman went on to graduate high school in 2014 and began his college football career at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York. However, after the head coach of the team wanted to start Friedman as a freshman, he realized he was barely enthusiastic about an otherwise amazing opportunity. It was at that moment that he decided to drop out of school to pursue his true passion of becoming a pro wrestler. His parents were less than enthused, but they would soon learn that their son made the right decision. 

At that point, Friedman’s father said that he would have the four years he would’ve been spending at Hartwick to make it as a wrestler, after that he’d be kicked out of the house. MJF then enrolled at Create a pro Wrestling Academy in Hicksville, which at the time was run by WWE Superstars Curt Hawkins and Pat Buck.

“The first day, when we were done rolling around we had what was they call ‘promo class,’ and I went up there after six other guys went up there, and they were bumbling and fumbling, and their hands were shaking and saying, ‘When I see you on Friday I’m going to give you a whuppin’. It was brutal, and then I went up there, I did my thing, and I’ll never forget, my trainer looked at me, and said, ‘Huh, all right, we’re about to print some money,’ and that was that.”

It wasn’t long after that in which Friedman would be signed to AEW and wrestling along his mentors as one of the newest and biggest heels in the industry; a heel refers to a competitor in professional wrestling who the audience is actively rooting against. Like every good story has a hero and a villian, every wrestling match has a face and a heel (good guy and bad guy), and Friedman has no problem playing the villain.

“I look at it like this: I’m being myself, everybody else in my industry is faking it. There’s nothing fake about me. And I think there are some people that appreciate that. Even if they hate me, they appreciate the fact that I’m 100 percent authentically me,” Friedman said.

Friedman recently hit a major career accomplishment, for only being 23 and so fresh in the industry, with his victory over Cody Rhodes; son of the late WWE Hall of Famer “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. He defeated Rhodes at AEW pay per view event “Revolution” and his victory has granted him a spot as one of AEW’s headlining stars at “Dynamite,” the first AEW pay per view event to be held in New York. 

In pro wrestling, the “character” and personality you exude in and out of the ring is just as important as the athletics of it all. Friedman is branding himself as one of the greatest heels in the industry currently; he has online merchandise that replicates his now signature Burberry scarf which he wears as he enters into competition. His scarfs sell for $40 and have the words “I Can’t Afford A Real Scarf” embedded on the pattern. 

On Twitter MJF has over 100,000 followers, and he makes sure he maintains an intimidating digital presence to remind his followers who the real boss is, tweeting his rivals things like “You insufferable fat slob behind a keyboard.” 

Friedman is so good at his performance because as he said, he really is just being himself. In the same interview, MJF recounts a recent time in which his father was recovering from open heart surgery and he was in the room with him. 

“[The] surgeon walks in, makes eye contact with me, and he goes, ‘MJF, what are you doing here?’ I said, ‘Mind your business.’ And he turned around and he left. And my dad looked at me. He said, ‘That guy just saved my life, you can’t talk…’ ‘And I’m like, “Dad, whatever,’” MJF recalls. 

Even his family members agree that MJF may not have the softest personality out there, but its part of what makes him such an amazing pro wrestler.

“Well, he [MJF] is a jerk to be honest,” Steven Friedman, MJF’s father, admits. “Whether he’s good or bad, he’s just, he’s Max. You know, in school, out of school, in the ring, on camera. He knows what he’s all about, and that’s who he is, so love it or leave it, I guess.”

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Eric Mastrota

Contributing Editor

Eric Mastrota graduated with a degree in English, Creative Writing, and Journalism. His goal is to create content that readers find entertaining, informative and most importantly, beneficial.