MAF is indeed hooked up and working.
since there's no error codes, i'm pretty sure it's not in safe mode flooding the engine.
i've tried slightly revving and flooring the engine while starting.
the idle is set by the computer, and that works becasue the car worked and idled before
i don't think the lack of backpressure would do anything, especially since there's supposed to be only another 4 feet of 2.5" pipe, and i think the turbo would add enough backpressure.
everything is sealed on the intake track, so i'm pretty sure it's nothing like a leak after the maf sensor.