Last night on Dynamite, Maxwell Jacob Friedman whipped Wardlow a little north of 10 times. It ruled.
The last time MJF whipped somebody, his victim was Cody Rhodes. Back then, there was a two-fold objective: show off Cody’s new neck tattoo, and establish the fact that Cody would preserver anything for a shot at MJF. It was fine, something from the Tommy Dreamer/Sandman school of establishing somebody as a babyface through extreme punishment, but Cody’s a (somewhat) normal human being who could only take so much, so there was some family drama while Cody did some acting and the Young Bucks did some acting, and if I’m being honest Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks are pretty much the last people in wrestling who I want to see acting.
Wardlow stood there and took it. Hoss stuff. Man stuff.
I’ll say it again: it ruled. The MJF/Wardlow beef has intentionally mirrored the MJF/Cody beef, but they’re purposed differently. Cody was meant to make it through by the skin of his teeth. Wardlow’s refusal to so much as flinch is meant to make MJF crumble psychologically, and it has. After Wardlow took a few lashes, popping his pecs after one, MJF lost his cool and burned through all but two of his remaining licks. Wardlow stood there and took it. Man was that rad.
I think a big part of what made this segment good, what makes this angle between MJF and Wardlow so compelling, is that their dynamic is, frankly, perverse. A young rich man takes out his frustrations on a servant, calls him a piggy, has him handcuffed, and whips him with a belt. This is a breakup angle that wouldn’t be out of place on a rack of 1970s gay pulp romances. It may mirror a prior feud, but it’s wholly unique. MJF seething rage is impotent. Wardlow’s cool in the face of the ordeal he’s going through is heroic. You want to see Wardlow win, but there’s a thrill to watching MJF try to torture him. Against anyone else, the point is discomfort. Here, it’s not quite the opposite, but you are meant to look. And you did. And it ruled.