The new All Elite Wrestling Podcast, AEW Unrestricted debuted last week with their first guest Jon Moxley. AEW referee Aubrey Edwards and broadcaster Tony Schiavone looked back with Moxley on the start of his career in Heartland Wrestling Association. Moxley had talked about how he wasn't popular early in his career, but it was not until he started working for Gabe Sapolsky, who now does work with Evolve, WWE and NWA. Moxley talked about how his opportunity to work with Sapolsky would lead to his popularity in the American independent wrestling scene.
"I started working for a company called Dragon Gate USA. The booker was a guy named Gabe Sapolsky who everybody knows. Once he got a hold of me, he wanted me to do some stuff with them. I remember he first brought me down to Tampa and they had a team CZW thing like a tournament called the Jeff Peterson Cup that was in Tampa. He wanted to bring a CZW team down.
"That was the first time I worked for him, and I cut some promos down there and everything," Moxley said. "I remember he was immediately like, 'you need to come to Philly next weekend and do this Dragon Gate USA ppv.' I was like alright. I knew working for him would be important because he's kind of a guy who's kind of championed and pushed and kind of made like a PR guy for all the really big indie names like Bryan Danielson, Punk and Joe and all those types of guys. I knew if he started squawking about me, it would get my name out there even further so I started working for him."
As Moxley tells it, his time with Dragon Gate USA eventually led to a call from WWE. He gave credit to Joey Mercury who led the charge in recruiting Moxley to WWE.
"It was like not even that much later, I randomly got a call from WWE. It took so long to get any buzz going, but once I did, it all snowballed really really quickly. I had enough of a buzz that somebody saw something and passed some tape along whatever," Moxley said. "Joey Mercury, he was in FCW at the time, was the impetus to be like to the talent relations guy who's not there anymore, 'hey, we gotta get this guy.' He was like alright give him a shot. It wasn't like they scouted me out like I was the biggest deal in the world or they backed a truckload of money to my house or anything like that. It was sort of randomly like hey let's give this dude a shot, and they randomly gave me a call."
Moxley emphasizes how "random" the call was since he talked about how he grew into popularity at a fast rate. He talks about how he initially thought the call was a joke. It was not until Mercury called him about his WWE signing that Moxley knew it was real.
"At first I thought it was a joke because people will screw with you like, 'hey, this is Vince McMahon and wants you to come to Monday Night RAW.' This dude called me, and I didn't think it was real. But I was like, 'is someone screwing with me?' I got off the phone with me and was like I think someone is screwing with me. Then a little bit later Joey Mercury called me who I worked with once before so I can recognize his voice on the phone," Moxley said. "I knew he was down there, and he was like, 'hey man, did you get a call today?' I went like, 'oh yeah, it was real. Oh s--t.'
"He was like, 'congratulations man. We're trying to get some good guys down here. Can't wait for you to come down here.' I was like trying to process it real quick like, 'oh s--t. I'm going to WWE.' I was doing good but I was making a lot of poor life decisions, getting in trouble doing stupid stuff, not in a good place at that point. Soon as I got that call, I knew this was my one shot, and I wasn't going to screw it up."
Moxley saw this opportunity as his one shot because of his living conditions at the time. He talked about his financial situation and the moving bonus he got and how that was the only money he had at the time.
"I was living in Philly at the time with my boy Dev, and I had no possessions to my name. I literally had my wrestling bag, a few books and this really crappy beater car. They give you like a moving bonus. They give you like $1500 or something to pay for your move like a moving truck something like that," Moxley said. "So that was basically the only cash that I had, and I couldn't even cash the check because I didn't have a bank account at the time. My buddy's girlfriend, I had to go to the bank with her, and she had to like co-sign it for me and cash it out of her account because I didn't have a bank account. I literally just had a wad of cash."
Moxley also described the living conditions he was living under while training at WWE developmental at FCW. He described the apartment he found on Craigslist as a "crack den".
"I drove down there like 24 hours straight, got there in the morning. I've been up for 24 hours. The sun in Tampa is beating on my face. I'm all confused, and I couldn't get an apartment because I didn't have credit and I had an eviction on my record from years ago," Moxley said. "I didn't have any luck getting an apartment, and they're like, 'there's some guys that need some roommates. We'll put you in touch.' But I was like too proud and embarrassed just too antisocial to ask for help or anything so I was like I'll figure it out myself. I somehow acquired this room on Craigslist that was like in this house where they're renting rooms for $100 a week in cash. It was a little room that was about the size of this room but smaller in this dumpy house. It was a tiny little bed that was probably riddled with disease. Luckily I didn't catch anything. There'd be cockroaches scurrying across the floor, and I had a door that just opened up to the backyard. It was basically a giant crack den."
The lifestyle Moxley lived continued through his run with The Shield. Moxley talked about not knowing when the run would end, so he would save up money to buy his dream truck. He also talked about knowing when it was time to part ways with WWE. He calls the split "mutually beneficial" and does not express any regret over finishing up with WWE.
"For the first couple of years, I didn't even own a car because I'm like never home. We did Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday [and] Tuesday for two years straight, so I was like home for like 36 hours. I'm like I don't even need a car, I'll just rent a car for $20 at the airport for a day. Until I saved enough money, then I bought my dream truck.
"When that run was time to end, it was definitely time that we parted our ways," Moxley said." That place was very good to me, and the universe was very good to me for giving me that opportunity, but it was time for us to go our separate ways. It was a mutually beneficial relationship for a while. Then it ran its course. Now I'm sitting here talking to you."
You can listen to the podcast by clicking here. If you use any quotes from this article, please credit AEW Unrestricted with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.