Maxwell Jacob Friedman has cemented himself as one of the top stars in the professional wrestling world, but just like many of today's biggest grapplers, he began his journey in the shadows of the big shows. Before she was D.M.D., Britt Baker was getting squashed by Nia Jax on an episode of Monday Night Raw. Before he was a TNT Champion, Scorpio Sky appeared in Daniel Bryan and Kane's anger management session as "Harold." Before he was the Salt of the Earth, MJF was a bodyguard escorting Samoa Joe to the ring ahead of an NXT Title defense.
While Joe shoving a young Friedman has gone down as his most infamous early cameo, MJF had more unaired backstage work in WWE.
"In the words of one of the greatest wrestlers of all time – John Cena – never give up. I met him one time. It was back in the day I was 18. I was doing extra work for WWE and they wanted to paint me up like a Finn Balor cause they were trying to figure out what paint should look like for the show," MJF told Barstool Rasslin' (h/t Ringside News). "So they painted me up. They took a photo of me. Finn Balor comes into the room, he was like, 'Yeah, this is good.' And I was like, 'This is wild.' Like what a wild contempt interaction. Like, couldn't you guys just like, did like a mock training, like a cartoon?"
Balor has had multiple "demons" in his alter ego entrance before, but that was not the case with this particular MJF moment, as he was strictly there to model the war paint.
"I was quite literally the paint dummy for Finn Balor. So I leave the room and I wash off as much of it as I can. But obviously I'm doing extra work, so I showed up in a suit," MJF continued. "So the only thing I was wearing was dress pants and dress shoes. Basically I looked like Darby Allin. And you never wanna look like Darby Allin."
It was here when MJF encountered Cena for the first time.
"So obviously Cena looked at me and he was like, 'Interesting, interesting choice of clothes,'" MJF revealed. "And I said, 'Thank you John.' and I walked away. And that was our interaction."
Despite not having an announced segment, MJF is expected to appear at AEW Dynamite: Grand Slam tonight.