By Will Pruett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@itswilltime)
Wrestling has been cruel for most of my life. I became a fan around 1996, watching through the Monday night wars and staying around for the 20+ year aftermath. In this time, I have mourned countless wrestlers. I have watched as wrestling companies (not one, but most) mock addiction, destroy wrestlers’ bodies, and ignore them in death. Watching AEW Dynamite last night, I was amazed by the kindness surrounding the entire Jon Moxley situation.
Tony Khan announced via Twitter on Tuesday night that Moxley will be entering an inpatient alcohol treatment program. I wondered if that would be the only mention of the situation and Moxley in AEW until Moxley returned. What happened instead was a top-of-show address from Excalibur extending thoughts and well wishes to Moxley and his family.
Then CM Punk’s promo happened and I was floored. Punk encouraged the crowd to chant for Moxley, praised his actions in getting help, and used the moment to encourage others to get help themselves. This was so different from anything I’ve seen in wrestling before, I had to pause the show because I was tearing up.
No one on the show said a bad word about Moxley. No one tore him apart for missing his scheduled (and anticipated) match with Orange Cassidy. No one used his battle with addiction for cheap heat. There was not an unkind word said about him, nor was there the sense that AEW as a company is anything but supportive of Moxley getting healthy.
Jon Moxley’s bravery in getting help can be inspirational to so many people. Moxley is a hero to some. He’s been on national TV for almost a decade and I can promise you there are people who look up to him. Some of those people may need help, not just for struggles with addiction, but anything related to mental health. Moxley can be an inspiration for many to get the help they need and AEW, in standing behind him, is encouraging this.
One of the first stories Jon Moxley tells in his just released autobiography (“Mox”) is about his dad telling him “we’re the good guys” and boiling this down to acting the way a protagonist should act. Jon Moxley, in getting help and inspiring so many others to do so, is definitely one of the good guys here. I hope he gets healthy and mentally and emotionally well. I hope we see him in the ring again, but not until he’s ready.
The kindness surrounding Moxley was not a one-time only thing. This is the company that kept Brodie Lee’s illness a closely guarded secret, then created a beautiful wrestling show for his grieving family. In the two and a half years AEW has existed, kindness has been a hallmark.
Wrestling has been cruel for most of my life, but now it is changing. Wrestling, as bloody and violent as it can be, is becoming kind.
And now for some random thoughts:
– It’s been a goal of mine to get back to writing about wrestling regularly. It has also been a struggle. Even as I’ve found myself watching shows in real time, each thought I think will make for a good piece of wrestling writing disappoints me two paragraphs in. I’m out of both practice and confidence here. Hopefully I write more in the very near future, even if I rely on the random thoughts format more than an essay.
– Did Kenny Omega vs. Alan “5” Angels happen on this show as a troll to everyone who criticized the match the first time around? Angels and Omega work really well together and this was a great way to open the show.
– I find myself both happy with the build to Kenny Omega vs. Adam Page and ready for Kenny Omega to move beyond whatever his character is right now as a heel. Perhaps it’s just how strange Kenny Omega is as a person, but I have never been more convinced that Omega is an actual alien (and not in the Kris Statlander way).
– There is not a story in wrestling I’m more excited about than “Hangman” Adam Page vs. Kenny Omega for the AEW Championship.
– Malakai Black promos always bring some weird goth energy. I think this is a compliment.
– CM Punk’s promo didn’t just discuss the Jon Moxley situation, it also worked in the angle and confrontation with Eddie Kingston. This was a necessary followup to last week and building to the two of them in a confrontation on Friday is a solid move.
– Miro’s pre-taped promos continue to be gold. God’s favorite champion might be my favorite nickname and character of the year.
– The Young Bucks and Adam Cole promo-turned-beating from Luchasaurus, Christian Cage, and Jungle Boy was super awkward for a while. The promo felt long. The physicality felt longer. Even the end had some confusion with the fairly popular babyface delivering a devastating double chair shot to the insanely popular heel. If it gets us Christian Cage vs. Adam Cole, I’ll be happy, but this could have used some refining.
– I loved the two video packages for the upcoming TBS Championship tournament matches. Ruby Soho and Kris Statlander quickly sold me on their match and I can’t wait to see it.
– FTR vs. Samuray Del Sol and Aerostar was not as fun as I had hoped it would be. Aerostar’s athleticism is still in tact, but his timing in this one seemed off to me. Samuray Del Sol was as good as ever here.
– I just can’t find it in myself to invest in the Inner Circle vs. American Top Team feud. I know Dan Lambert is supposed to annoy me, but I want to fast forward any segment he’s in. Chris Jericho, in all of his attempts to be funny and turn the clock back to his 2001 segments with Stephanie McMahon, is less likable by the week. No one is better off because this feud is happening and I cannot say I’m interested in some MMA humans doing pro wrestling either.
– Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky are consistently well dressed, which is as positive as I can be.
– Anna Jay vs. Jamie Hayter was an example of AEW’s worst booking instincts as work. While I love how AEW avoids disqualification finishes, they also rely heavily on distractions and/or interference instead of letting a babyface take a loss. Anna Jay did not need to be protected at the end of this one and Jamie Hayter could have used a strong win.
– Thunder Rosa is insanely popular and should be in a story on TV every single week.
– I don’t know if any duo has less chemistry than Mark Sterling and Jade Cargill.
– Darby Allin and MJF have done a good job of selling me on their match at Full Gear. The running start Allin had when finally assaulting MJF was absolutely frightening.
– Does it bother anyone else that Cody Rhodes’ first entrance theme in no way leads into his second? They’re just two pieces of music next to each other, not a cohesive entrance.
– Andrade El Idolo vs. Cody Rhodes was really fun to watch. I’m more understanding of the interference in this one, considering Cody’s place on the card and the recent clean losses he has taken. Andrade is on quite a roll in AEW after a rocky start.
– I can do without John Silver (who is delightful and charismatic) trying to bring Being The Elite jokes to Dynamite. That one was too inside for me to enjoy.
– Nothing in life lasts as long as a Matt Hardy feud in AEW. They just go on and on and on…
– Miro vs. Orange Cassidy was exactly what I expected it to be. It was nice to see Orange get aggressive early on, but Miro getting the dominant win was never in question.
– Miro vs. Bryan Danielson will be fantastic.
AEW produces the easiest to watch wrestling show in the world. I hardly noticed that almost two hours had passed before the main event. This show, more than many others, needed to leave us feeling positive. AEW rallied around Jon Moxley tonight and produced a kick ass wrestling show at the same time. I’m glad to see it.
Will Pruett writes about wrestling and popular culture at prowrestling.net. Of interest to him are diversity in wrestling and wrestling as a theatrical art form. To see his video content subscribe to his YouTube channel. To contact, check him out on Twitter @itswilltime, leave a comment, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.