Nick Mondo was one of the greatest wrestlers in CZW history and was inducted into their Hall of Fame. But since retiring in 2003, he has turned to filmmaking and was instrumental in creating Jon Moxley's viral videos.
Mondo spoke to Wrestling Inc. on our WINCLY podcast about his relationship with Moxley and how he got involved with this project.
"I didn't meet Jon until he was in WWE but I heard about him in CZW," said Mondo. "I think the first time I heard about him was right when he got signed to WWE. His promos were just so legendary and powerful and impactful, I'm sure that's why he got signed to WWE."
Mondo mentioned that Moxley saw and liked his 2017 film, The Trade and they connected after that.
"He also wrestled for CZW and was involved in the Tournament of Death. I participated in the first and second Tournament of Death events and that was the starting point for us to connect," revealed Mondo.
Earlier this week Moxley appeared on the Talk is Jericho podcast where he expressed his frustrations with WWE. Mondo was asked if Moxley expressed similar frustrations with him while working on the videos.
"I try not to dig into that too much when I talked to Jon," stated Mondo. "As he described on Talk is Jericho, it was just a text that caught me off guard, 'Hey man. You do music video trailer-type work?'
"'Yeah, what's on your mind?' It was just real quick. I had already seen the rumors that he might be leaving WWE and as soon as he asked that first question I thought it was related."
With Moxley knowing lots of media people in WWE, the fact that he contacted Mondo indicated that he was already planning his next steps. Mondo then revealed his reaction as Moxley laid out his idea for the videos.
"I was immediately excited," Mondo said before adding that his recent focus was on doing stunt work. "So, when Jon hit me up for this video, I dropped whatever else I was doing and said, 'I'm listening.' As he described what he wanted to do, I told him, 'Jon, this is going to make waves. This is huge.'"
Moxley knew well in advance that he was going to leave WWE, but he didn't want to stir up any issues or burn any bridges.
"He carried out all of his duties and let everyone assume that he was gonna retire or take a break, but no, he had a different idea. So, I was tremendously excited to be a part of this," said Mondo.
Mondo was then asked if there was pressure on him or others involved to keep all of this a secret.
"It was amusing. I couldn't believe, especially after this video dropped, all of the speculation swirling. …AEW produced this video. …This is WWE working with Jon to re-brand him and bring him back. …It was hysterical. I knew this was going to be big, but it was bigger than I even thought," said Mondo.
There was a small crew of four people that were involved in the shoot and Mondo knew that they wouldn't reveal any secret information.
"I knew they wouldn't talk, but boy we wanted to," exclaimed Mondo. "We got so much mileage out of it and I'm sure AEW sold more PPVs because everyone is wondering if Jon is gonna be there because they had no idea who made this video. So, it was beneficial to stay quiet."
The first video was shot a few months before Moxley left WWE so Mondo was asked if the plan was always for Moxley to go to AEW.
"With Jon I didn't really ask him those questions because you could tell that he doesn't want to feel nervous about secrets getting out," said Mondo. "I don't think he quite knew what he was gonna do but he wanted to let everyone know that he was available. I'm sure every wrestling company was hitting him up, but at the time we made the video in late February, I don't think he even knew what he was gonna do."
Mondo is a CZW Hall of Famer and current independent filmmaker. For more information about Mondo you can follow him on Twitter @NickMondoMedia or visit his website NickMondoMedia.com. Mondo's full interview with Wrestling Inc. was included as part of Thursday's episode of our WINCLY podcast, which can be heard via the embedded audio player at the bottom of this post. In it Mondo discusses becoming friends with Moxley, the original pitch from Moxley about the "prison break" video, his desire to keep working with Moxley, NJPW and AEW and more.