Wardlow debuted in AEW on November 13, 2019 as MJF’s bodyguard and attack dog. Since then, he’s had 7 singles matches on Dynamite, the most notable being his cage match against Cody ahead of 2020’s Revolution. Currently, Wardlow is a member of the Pinnacle alongside FTR, Shawn Spears, Tully Blanchard, and MJF. Despite the relatively little amount of spotlight he’s been given, Wardlow has shown himself to be a real powerhouse in the men’s division.
Wardlow’s personality has remained mostly unexplored in AEW. We can assume– since he’s willing to work for MJF to support his family– that he loves his family very much. During the brief moments we’ve seen Wardlow on his own (on Being the Elite with the Dark Order, for instance) he’s been relatively laidback and genial. This suggests that, if it wasn’t for his position as MJF’s employee, he’d be much more pleasant.
The bottom line is that, if AEW wants it, there’s a clear storyline for Wardlow to turn face that could be set in action at any time. Here’s how and why I think it could be done.
Like I said before, Wardlow’s personality is mostly unknown in AEW. The depth we have gotten has shown that Wardlow doesn’t necessarily support MJF’s moral standards, but needs to keep his job to support his family. Any slight disobedience could cost Wardlow his paycheck. MJF’s promo on the episode of Dynamite after MJF lost his title match to Jon Moxley at All Out is one of the most important promos for understanding Wardlow.
After ordering his “campaign staff” to leave the room, MJF turned to Wardlow and venomously told him:
“I’m sorry, do we have a problem? Because the last time I checked, ‘War Dog,’ Tony Khan doesn’t sign off on your checks, I do. Oh, yeah, you just remembered that. Anyone in their right mind after this Saturday would’ve fired you, but not me Wardlow. Because I’m the only person on this planet who sees your potential. I’m the only person on this planet who cares about you, quite frankly I’m your only friend. So I’d appreciate it if you got it together, because if you don’t, I’m gonna have to put you and your whole family out on the street.”
This promo shows us that Wardlow is wholly dependent on MJF. Even if Wardlow didn’t approve of his boss’s cruelty, he can’t do anything to stand up to it without putting his family in jeopardy. But what if MJF’s disrespect became too much for Wardlow to bear?
Before coming to AEW, Wardlow was a member of the IWC (International Wrestling Cartel) roster, an independent promotion based in Pittsburgh. Within IWC, Wardlow is a beloved babyface. For instance, in 2017 and 2019 he won IWC wrestler of the year and is a 3-time champion.
He and Britt Baker, another former IWC roster member, sometimes make appearances at IWC shows to pay homage to where they came from. I think IWC provides the most effective setting for Wardlow to turn face. Here’s how it plays out in my head:
AEW sends cameras over to an IWC show under the guise of recording matches for Dark. Wardlow puts on a standard match against a current roster member and wins. The Pinnacle then come in, giving Wardlow a slow, cocky applause. MJF enters the ring and takes the mic. He proceeds to call Pittsburgh and IWC a dump, full of illiterate coal miners and nobodies (or whatever other MJF-type insults you can insert). Wardlow, fed up, smacks the mic out of MJF’s hand and hits him with an F10. This segment then airs on the following episode of Dynamite after commentary explains that the Pinnacle had a falling-out.
That’s a rough outline, but it’s hopefully enough to get the picture. This storyline would make Wardlow a hometown hero and strengthen AEW’s relationship with the independent scene. In my opinion, one of the best things to come out of AEW was a revival in the independent scene as wrestlers who appear on TV bring notoriety (and more importantly, ticket sales) to their local companies.
I see a lot of potential in a babyface Wardlow; he could be a good representative of the working-class man, oppressed and forced to work under an immoral boss. Given the current economic situation of the US, fans would very easily gravitate toward a figure like that.
This storyline could be pulled out at any time, so it could be a while until it ever comes to fruition, if it ever does at all. Seeing as how the Pinnacle was just recently formed, I think it would be for the best if any in-fighting within the group was held off until later. Once the Pinnacle establishes themselves as a stable team, Wardlow’s separation from the group could be explored. Personally, I’m an absolute sucker for face turns. I hope we do eventually see Wardlow prove his worth on his own.
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