Jon Moxley on His Passion for AEW & Facing Chris Jericho at 'Revolution'
When Jon Moxley unexpectedly appeared at All Elite Wrestling’s Double or Nothing last year, it sent shockwaves through the industry. The former Dean Ambrose had shed his WWE cloak and the creative restraints he felt under during his time there. He was reborn. Free to explore and challenge himself in a new environment. Having someone of such name value also helped attract audiences, as well as send the message AEW can be a viable alternative.
Moxley, reigning IWGP United States champion in New Japan Pro Wrestling, remains a popular attraction on Dynamite. The TNT show was recently renewed through 2023 with more programming on the horizon. This month AEW’s resident renegade is gearing up for arguably the biggest match in his run so far. At the promotion's next big pay-per-view event, Feb. 29's Revolution, he challenges for the top title against Chris Jericho.
“Right now, Chris Jericho — whether he stabs me in the eye with a spike or not — is right up there with the greatest of all time,” Moxley said. “He has been doing this at such a high level for so long. He reinvented himself and always seems to be at the right place at the right time.
"Jericho continues to become a bigger star. This only helps the profile of AEW. Anyone he get in the ring with makes their star shine brighter…I’m going into the match looking to defeat essentially the greatest of all-time. It’s about staying focused on the task at hand...I lash out in the ring, but it’s more of a mature, veteran version of it.”
Fresh off his travels on Chris Jericho’s Rock ‘N’ Wrestling Rager at Sea, the 34-year-old Moxley looks back on the AEW run so far and previews his big showdown with Jericho.
Over the last couple of months you’ve been able to work with a variety of different opponents in an assortment of match styles. What has it been like for you to challenge yourself in this way?
Jon Moxley: I feel like it’s a smorgasbord of opportunity to go out there to the ring with no plan or any kind of strategy and see what happens with two different combustions. It’s fun because you see what happens. One of the cool things to watch is not only the top tier talent that people knew going in. But to watch so many young guys like Jungle Boy, Joey Janella, Sammy Guevara, Darby Allin. Seeing them get a shot on a national platform, worldwide platform where they are not encumbered by anything.
When you first signed with AEW you probably weren’t sure how this was going to evolve or maybe to the extent it has in such a short time. When was the moment you thought this was a brand and company that is here for the long haul.
There are so many promotions that have come and gone and tried to make a go of it and failed. Over the years there are people who make a lot of big promises wherever I’ve been. First time you hear something like this you initially think, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” A lot of the stuff was in play, top secret, before even people knew about it. There was infrastructure being built before the public knew this would be a thing.
When I first came into the fold, it became real. I thought how this was where I want to be and do with my career. My goals aligned with theirs, so we were all on the same page. A lot of people think we are in some honeymoon period and the hot thing right now, but we already proved we are not going to go away. We have this audience that was underserved for so long. When we started, they [WWE] were starting to counter-program right out of the gate without us getting a foothold or established in the market. Now we are here. That was gratifying to see us on top. Kind of like a middle finger.
The main thing that is driving all this forward is the fans. There is a bigger fan base for wrestling than people maybe ever thought. You have wrestling fans in the closet so to speak. Now there is this alternative, it’s cool to be a wrestling fan in 2020. There is an audience for this.
The energy and passion and excitement we get from the fans whether it’s in an arena or a f---’in boat in the middle of the ocean, they are all there for us. That is what is driving this whole thing forward. That last show of the cruise everyone was just hanging out and hugging and high-fiving. It really felt like we are all on the same team and in this together as wrestling fans. We come together from different walks of life because we love this crazy thing called wrestling.
A great thing about AEW lately has been its storytelling and character development. You've been telling this great story with Chris Jericho over the past few months heading into Revolution. How much have you enjoyed the process of putting it all together?
It’s what it’s supposed to be. That’s pro wrestling. That’s the kind of wrestling I enjoyed as a kid. That’s the thing. The difference for us is we don’t have to have 37 pay-per-views a year and 600 network specials every year. We have Dynamite every week but four or five pay-per-views a year. We can keep those high-quality, big matches for those. A big fight feel. I think some of that has been missing over the last few years when you have to rush through stories and car crash stuff and give away so much on TV. The gratifying part for me is that it’s so much easier. You don't have to overcomplicate things.
The story is simple. You have professionals who know what they are doing, veteran guys. Sometimes you can take risks and try something out. Maybe it works or doesn’t. It’s always great to be willing to do that. The lack of 30 writers buzzing around with all this weird f---’in energy is the biggest difference. Instead of a 10-minute sports entertainment segment, at AEW I don’t have anyone bugging me with 40-page script to memorize or drilled to me how it’s supposed to be done. It’s very stress-free when you just let guys do their jobs. It’s easier when you have more in command of the rudder of the ship. Better than having the wind blowing in 50 f----’in directions.
How has the transition in schedule been for you compared to WWE? Not only AEW, you’ve had the freedom to work in Japan. Do you feel you have more quality time to spend with your wife [Renee Young] even though she works for another company?
The schedule for me hasn’t really let up at all. Other than that initial month after I put my foot on the gas pedal. I did shows in Japan and AEW starting going into the summer. I also had to deal with injuries too on top of that….I just went from Jacksonville to Tokyo to Memphis to home for like 30 seconds and to Cleveland and Japan and back to Alabama. I’m all over the place, but I feel more in control of that. It’s less someone put a trip to Japan or Australia or England because I have to. I’m excited. Even today on my day off doing media, it doesn’t feel like something I have to do because I’m passionate about this product. I want to get people in the building and help out.
I do have to be mindful not to overextend myself. When you work for AEW and Japan and do movies and other projects not related to wrestling, I have to make sure I have enough energy for it. But it’s all stuff I’m passionate about and stuff I would essentially do for free. I was wasting time the last five or six years. I don’t want to waste any more time.
There is a balance. I do have to factor in my wife and where she is at and make sure we meet up and I can be with her. We figure out a way to make it work. It’s ingrained in my head at this point to go, go, go. I’m older, smarter, and made all these mistakes. I’m not going to blatantly work through injuries or break my body down until it’s purple. I can take a few days off and be in control. It’s a transition but a positive one.
All Elite Wrestling Revolution, Saturday, February 29, 7/6c Live, Pay-Per-View