AEW World Champion Jon Moxley was a recent guest on Wrestling Observer Radio, and during the discussion, Mox opened up about how he felt debuting with AEW. He also gave some details on the hectic 2020 he had planned as AEW World Champion, prior to COVID-19 putting a delay on many things.
“It was literally like dropping chains off that I had been carrying for a long time, it was like literally shedding skin. And you don’t know what it’s like to be out there in the world, in front of the whole world, and not be in your own skin, as strange as that sounds,” Jon explained. “And I’ve talked about it over and over in every interview for the last year or so, but I’ve just been grateful and happy for everything over the last year.
“… My 2020, had it not been for this pandemic, was going to be nuts. It was very ambitious. The first two months of it, before all this happened, were pretty crazy, especially February. I was going back and forth from Japan so much. I went from Memphis, to Sapporo, to Cleveland, to Osaka, to Austin, Texas,” Mox continued. “I remember that I was like, I’m doing pretty good at this. When I’m scheduling all this out – and it’s between two different companies, so it’s not like they’re all scheduling it for you. Like, during a crazy WWE tour, you just show up, and you’re a zombie, and you just walk in, and fall and get hurt, and they just basically figure it all out for you. I had to figure this all out by myself and make sure I had time to do all of this.
“The rest of the year was going to be obviously Dynamite every week, all of the pay-per-views, we had an AEW UK tour we were going to do that got nixed, I was going to go to Europe, to Japan back and forth a bunch, I was going to do a bunch of cool indies, like the cooler indie shows, a bunch of stuff, a bunch of opponents outside of AEW I had in mind. I was going to be touring the world, bringing that belt everywhere, and I just had a very ambitious year laid out.”
Moxley also noted that his WWE contract was originally set to expire in September 2018. However, due to having to take some time off to rehab an injury, WWE decided to tack the 9 months he missed back on to his contract, causing the deal to end just a few weeks before AEW Double Or Nothing in 2019. Jon initially believed that he was headed for the independent circuit after WWE, intending on reestablishing himself as someone far from the ‘Dean Ambrose’ persona.
“I knew I was leaving in July [the previous year] before that was even a thing. I had however many months on my contract, plus they added – another weird thing is that it ended in September of 2018 but they tacked on 9 months because I was out with an injury, so it ended up where it expired on April 30, which is 3 weeks from Double Or Nothing, which is 7 minutes from my house. So, that was another crazy coincidence,” Mox explained. “I knew I was gone in July but I was going to finish it out, you know? I didn’t want anybody to say that I did bad business, I didn’t want anybody to have anything negative to say about how I did things. I finished it out until the very last day, and they worked me like a dog until the very last day. It’s all good.
“Yeah, I knew I was gone the whole time but I was thinking to myself, okay, since I have however many months left, I’ve never done a heel turn. I’ve been a babyface for years and I know I can be a sick a– heel if they would let me just go. And I’m thinking, I don’t know why I’m thinking this naively in my head, and I’m thinking that when I turn heel, they’ll let me be a vicious bastard, and get some heat, and draw some money. It didn’t go like that at all. It only got worse by leaps and bounds when I turned heel.
“I was open to the idea of possibly staying, but I pretty much knew I was gone,” Jon continued. “Within weeks, I was like, ‘I cannot wait to get the hell out of here.’ At first, I was thinking I was going to – because I was so beaten down and miserable at that point, I was thinking I was going to take myself ‘off Broadway’, so to speak. I’m like, I need to completely revamp, I need to completely change, I need to go away because the last thing I wanted to do was be on an indie show as, like, ‘former WWE superstar’. I wasn’t going to try to make any money off my name. I was going to leave all of that in the past.”
Moxley looked back at winning his AEW World Title, as well as the first time he won the WWE Championship. He emphasized the differences between the two title victories, noting that WWE only put him in that position because other plans they had ultimately fell through.
“To me, it felt like the culmination of another journey. It felt like the culmination of the whole journey that started from the day I dropped that video and figured out how to use Twitter, and it ended or hit a high point on [the night I won the AEW World Title]. That was the culmination of a singular journey of Jon Moxley got out of jail, and he’s back, and he’s better than he’s ever been,” Jon said. “That’s how it felt to me – it felt right. 100% this is my spot and this is where I should be.
“Having other titles in the past, like, I was WWE Champion and that was back when there was only one Champion, before that brand split,” Mox explained. “That was cool because, you know, you grow up and you go, ‘I want to be WWE Champion someday’, and that’s some ridiculous, far off dream that’s so impossible? But I did it, and that’s surreal. But [WWE] was a different situation because that was indicative about how most of my run went there, which was like it was an emergency situation. They needed a guy to main event all the shows, and carry the Championship over the summer in a bad situation. And whose always the guy that’s there? It’s me. I’m the guy that headlines all the shows, I’m the guy you turn to in dark times. So it was cool, you know, I got to run around with that thing for a Summer.”
Jon didn’t mince words when giving his opinion on what could improve WWE’s product. He believes that the current CEO, Vince McMahon, needs to take more of a backseat role in the company if they intend on improving their ratings. He also questioned what his role would be in the company if he was still signed there.
“We know what their problem is. It’s one person, three letters: VKM. That’s the problem. Until he’s gone or relinquishes control, it’s not going to change. When I watched the show during the pandemic era – not that I haven’t seen the show before – but especially in the pandemic era, I’m like, ‘Oh, thank God I’m not there. Jesus Christ.’ Like, what would I be doing on that show right now? Can you imagine? Do you think it would be any good? I mean, come on.
“I really don’t want to get into a bashing them thing, but all the LED boards and s–t in their ThunderDome isn’t going to fix their problems. We know what their problem is. I saw a picture of the [ThunderDome]. It had a – it was like a Zoom call with all the faces on the wall… I hope it’s awesome because I have friends there. I have so much great talent there that I want WWE to be awesome. Honestly, when WWE sucks, at this point, I don’t get excited about it like, ‘Haha, you suck’, it kind of pisses me off because they’re the #1 brand of the sport. They represent the sport to a lot of people, and when their product is embarrassing to watch, it makes all of wrestling look bad.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Wrestling Observer Radio with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.