In between making fun of people in the audience, bragging about driving a Porsche and refusing to shake fans’ “filthy hands,” Maxwell Jacob Friedman was downright gracious when he was honored Monday at a special ceremony at Oyster Bay Town Hall. He signed autographs, posed for pictures with fans and even encouraged young students to persevere through adversity.
But the nice guy routine didn’t last long.
“If you tell anyone I was nice today, I know where you live,” Friedman told those in attendance. “And I have a key to your house now.”
Friedman was speaking about the Key to the Town of Oyster Bay, presented to him by Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino, who also proclaimed Wednesday, April 5, as “Maxwell Jacob Friedman Day.”
The Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK High School graduate and Glen Cove resident received the honors for winning the All Elite Wrestling world heavyweight championship in November. Friedman, better known as MJF, is renowned as one of wrestling’s most despicable villains — even his mother says he’s a “jerk.” But Oyster Bay town officials and residents were proud to call MJF their jerk.
“He’s a generational talent. On the mic, he’s untouchable . . . He’s the guy to watch,” said Greg Riso, 31, of Bethpage, among several dozen fans who came out to celebrate the man who regularly boasts that he is “better than you.”
“I wanted to be a wrestler as a kid. I didn’t follow those dreams. He followed those dreams. I have a lot of respect for him. He went for it,” Riso said.
Saladino noted that, in addition to his “incredible stage presence” and determination, Friedman is also involved in charitable activities through AEW and regularly speaks out against antisemitism.
And, although MJF regularly talks plenty of trash about his opponents, he never has a cross word for Long Island, “the most magical place in the world.”
“I’m 100% a hometown boy. I’m proud to be from here,” said Friedman, who will return to a Long Island wrestling ring on Wednesday when AEW holds its televised program, Dynamite, at the UBS Arena — “the only place that truly matters.”
The ceremony followed a particularly newsworthy few days for AEW’s pro wrestling competition, WWE. The company shattered records over the weekend at its annual WrestleMania event in Los Angeles, then announced Monday that it would be sold to UFC’s parent company, Endeavor, to create a $21 billion sports entertainment juggernaut.
“I think both companies right now are white hot,” Friedman said of AEW and WWE. “To me, a rising tide lifts all ships. And the more professional wrestling is in the media, the better.”