By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Jon Moxley was interviewed on the latest edition of Chris Jericho’s “Talk Is Jericho” podcast. The following are among the highlights of the interview, which can be heard in full at Omny.fm/shows.
-Moxley noted that it had been five months since word leaked that he was planning to leave WWE once his deal expired. He said WWE issued a press release and the broadcast team was talking about it and he said nothing. He added that he delivered a line during a promo about being at the casino for eight years and cashing in his chips as a precautionary move so the company couldn’t come up with a different narrative for his departure.
-Moxley spoke positively about taking part in the Make-A-Wish program and said he was grateful for the experience. He had some good things to say about his time in WWE, including that he met his wife (Renee Young) in WWE. “The last eight years couldn’t have been any more successful and full of gratitude for that,” Moxley said. “Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s just bury the company for the next two hours.”
-Moxley said he knew he was leaving WWE in July 2018 while he was recovering from a triceps injury.
-The WWE creative process was major a source of frustration. Moxley told stories about being handed scripts for promos that didn’t fit his vision for his character. He said he had a lot of conversations with Vince McMahon about his frustration with the promos that were written for him, and Vince’s response was typically that “this is you” and “this is what makes you different.”
-Moxley recalled being handed a script that included a line about a pooper scooper. He said the script included notes from Vince that said he needed to read his lines verbatim. Moxley said he went off on the writer even though it wasn’t the writer’s fault. He also took issue with a scripted line about Roman Reigns’ battling leukemia. Moxley said he went right to Vince. “Basically, he gave me the Vince Jedi mind trick,” Moxley said. He noted that he is usually immune, but he bought in once in a while, and knew as soon as he said the line that he regretted it.
-Moxley noted that Vince personally wrote the promo in which the Ambrose character asked what the smell was (the fans) while wearing a surgical mask. Moxley said he met with Vince and was exhausted from having these types of conversations with him for six years. Ambrose said he left the building as soon as he was finished and spoke of the frustration he felt.
-Moxley said it always bothered him when Attitude Era wrestlers claimed that today’s wrestlers are afraid to speak their mind for fear of being fired. Moxley said he never had that fear.
-Moxley recalled Raw taking place in Milwaukee. He said a writer friend of his texted him details of the plan for his character that night, which included him getting rabies shots. Moxley let the writer know he wasn’t pleased. Moxley said that once he met with Vince, he ended up telling him that if this is what he wanted on his show then he was the best man for the job. He said he would give it his absolute best to make it good. Moxley said he had a feeling that it was the last time that he would have that conversation with Vince. Moxley said he told friends that night that he couldn’t work in WWE because it was so embarrassing. Moxley also recalled shooting down another line about Roman’s leukemia battle. He said it was so bad that he wouldn’t even say the line on the air and feared that it would have led to sponsors being upset and someone being fired, perhaps even him, if the line had been said on the air. Vince agreed to pull the line since Moxley was uncomfortable with it.
-“They take wrestling away from you,” Moxley said of WWE. He said he feels like he has it back now. Moxley said promos were once his favorite part of being a wrestler, but he ended up dreading them in WWE because of being handed scripts.
-Moxley said he didn’t know how to be a babyface initially. He said it was 90 percent John McClane from Die Hard and the other ten percent was a combination of Dusty Rhodes, Bret Hart, wrestlers in Japanese death matches, etc.
-While recovering from surgery, Moxley said he scheduled a meeting with Vince in New York with the goal of pitching his ideas for his return. Moxley said he wanted to do something new and had a lot of ideas, but Vince wanted to bring back The Shield and go with the usual Lunatic Fringe character. He said the company pretended like they were going to use his ideas, but they ended up making the same pitch that Vince originally mentioned. Moxley vented about how they overproduce everything in WWE.
-Moxley said he was thinking about going to Japan before AEW became a reality. He said he would have left WWE even if there were no other promotions or wrestlers in the world, and he would have started his own company, trained his own opponents, and reinvented the wrestling business.
-Moxley said he waited for the company to offer him a new contract at the Royal Rumble before telling them of his decision to leave. He said he was approached by a writer an hour before the show and informed that there were some script changes. He said he was scripted to take a bump for Nia Jax. He said he was hot because of the last minute addition. He didn’t have a problem taking the bump for Jax, but he felt the late addition was a slap in the face.
-Moxley ended up meeting with Vince, who acted surprised that he was upset with the creative plan for his character. Moxley said he took the chance to say everything he had to say, but it was also emotional on both sides. One of the things he vented about the writers writing words for his character. Moxley said he was hoping that Vince would write him off television that night. Instead, Vince said they would go through WrestleMania and they wouldn’t job him out. Ambrose said he thought that’s what they were doing with the Jax segment, but Vince said Jax is an attraction, and Moxley went along with it and had fun with it.
-Moxley recalled WWE putting out a press release to announce that he was leaving once his contract expired. Moxley was surprised, but he thought it was awesome and noted that it’s never been done before. Moxley said he assumes they were getting backlash, but he has no idea what the motivation was behind the press release. He assumes it was the company trying to control the narrative, and that it bothered Vince because he had no control.
-Moxley said he told Vince that he didn’t care how many zeroes he added to his pay, he was leaving. “He’s got the million dollar man complex,” Moxley said. “He has to be able to buy everything, that’s why he pays Brock (Lesnar) billions of dollars to come in and ruin his company, because he wants to own Brock… A guy he has no power over, me, he didn’t know how to handle it. It went in a bunch of weird, crazy directions over the next five months.”
-Moxley said he never looked at the new contract the company offered him. He said it didn’t matter how lucrative it was because he already has everything he needs.
-Moxley said he wants to prove that the WWE creative process sucks and does not work. “It’s absolutely terrible,” Moxley said. He noted that he’s said as much to Vince, Hunter, and Michael Hayes. “It’s killing the company, and I think Vince is the problem,” Moxley said. “Not so much Vince, but Vince and whatever the structure that he’s built around himself probably starting in 2002 after the sale of WCW and he started building this infrastructure around himself, this team of writers and whatever and producers… The product sucks. Great talent, amazing talent. None of this is their fault. So I’m hoping, if I had a goal with AEW its we can prove that Vince’s way sucks.” Moxley added that it won’t be his focus and they’re not trying to compete with WWE. He said they want to put on their best product, but he hopes that a byproduct of that is making WWE reevaluate its creative process. Moxley and Jericho agreed that micromanaging is Vince’s flaw. “I’ve never been micromanaged more than in the last four months once I turned heel,” Moxley said. “It was so weird.”
-Moxley recalled EC3 being scripted to beat him in less than two minutes. He said the live crowd didn’t like it and EC3 unfairly got the backlash. Moxley said a writer approached him and the plan was for EC3 to beat Moxley in two minutes again. Moxley and the writer agreed that it made it look like the company was trying to bury him on the way out. He said that once he got to television, they had him and EC3 switch babyface and heel roles without any explanation.
-Moxley said he was paid $500 for his final match on “The Shield’s Final Chapter” special that aired on WWE Network. He said that’s the bare minimum that people get for just showing up even though the show was built around his departure. He joked that he should frame the check.
-Moxley spoke about putting himself in uncomfortable positions within the next year. He said there are new styles to learn and he can’t wait to get started.
-Moxley said Tony Khan is the exact opposite of Vince McMahon. He said he likes him because he’s a wrestling fan. He said Vince loves sports entertainment and promoting, whereas Khan is a fan of pro wrestling.
-Jericho wondered what could reignite Vince and whether it’s even possible when he’s spent every day for 40 years thinking about wrestling and never gets a chance to recharge. “I’ll put a challenge out to him right now,” Moxley said. “Your creative process sucks, change it.”
-Moxley spoke about the video he released once his WWE contract expired. He said he reached out to Nick Mondo, who came up with a script. He said they filmed the video in February in Los Angeles while he had two days off. He said the video cost $8,000 and he feels it was totally worth it. He said Vince actually reached out in the middle of the night while they were filming to ask him to sign an extension so that they could have The Shield work the European tour. Moxley said he considered it, but quickly decided to pass and told Vince that he was committed to a film project.
-Jericho asked how Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins reacted to his decision to leave. Moxley said they were cool. He said Rollins was bummed, but Moxley compared it to the end of Harry and the Hendersons in that he’s a wild animal who has been domesticated for too long.
-Moxley said nothing he does going forward will be about money. He is motivated by passion, creativity, artistic satisfaction, and fun. He said he believes the financial reward will come with that.
Powell’s POV: A terrific podcast. As much as many of us have complained about the WWE creative process, Moxley lived through it and thus it packs a punch to hear him sound off about how bad things have become. This is not a case of an undercard wrestler who felt underutilized in WWE. Moxley was in the WWE main event mix and could have made a fortune had he re-signed with the company, so it says a lot about the process that he became so frustrated that he chose to walk away to do things differently.
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