Just under a month after his contract with WWE expired, the former Dean Ambrose, who has resumed using the name Jon Moxley, opened up about his WWE departure on the May 29th episode of the ‘Talk is Jericho’ podcast and signing with the AEW. The discussion between Moxley and Chris Jericho was actually recorded a week or two prior at Moxley’s home in Las Vegas, coincidentally the city that hosted AEW’s recent ‘Double or Nothing’ event.
It was very clear from the outset of the podcast that Moxley had a lot to get off his chest as he almost immediately began talking at length about things that had transpired in WWE, particularly after his return from injury in 2018 and subsequent heel turn. In past podcast interviews Moxley has been something of a reticent speaker, and unlike most wrestlers today he hardly utilizes social media at all. But on this occasion, he was very verbose, and at times host Jericho laid back and let him speak, only interjecting questions to follow up on things already said.
While Moxley’s comments were not as contentious or negative to the same degree that CM Punk’s were during his infamous appearance on the Colt Cabana podcast following his WWE departure, Moxley had some very pointed criticisms for his former employer. He expressed a great deal of gratitude to WWE for the platform they gave him, the money he made and the opportunity they gave him to do positive things like Make A Wish events and meetings. He also said that he never considered asking for his release or walking out, and instead waited patiently for his contract to expire. He did not want to be unprofessional, he did not want to create legal problems for himself, and he was also mindful of the fact that his wife Renee Young is still a WWE employee.
When it came time to talk about why he decided to leave WWE he was clear that what bothered him most was the creative process there. He repeatedly expressed his love for the wrestling business, not just performing in the ring but crafting promos and storylines, describing it as an artistic endeavor. His comments made clear that the WWE method, whereby wrestler are given scripts by writers, was stifling and made him feel like an actor just reciting lines. Over the years there were numerous occasions where he was very dissatisfied with what the creative team were writing for him to say and frequently met with Vince McMahon the day of shows to express that dissatisfaction.
Based on his comments, it seems he decided he was going to leave during rehabilitation from surgery from his triceps surgery. He realized during that time he was off that he was burned out from doing WWE television every week, not the wrestling but having to battle with creative and the storylines he was being put in. However, his decision was cemented after his return due to the direction taken with his character after his heel turn. He had frequent battles with writers and discussions with McMahon because he found his heel personas promos, which focussed on calling the fans smelly, dirty and disease-ridden to be ‘goofy.’ In particular, he did not like the sketch where he received a rabies vaccination from a doctor. He wanted to be a dastardly heel and he felt much of the scenarios he was put in were comical. He was also very bothered that his scripts included lines that commented negatively on his friend Roman Reigns’ battle with leukemia at the time.
While deriding the comic aspect of his heel promos, he also alluded to the fact that during his babyface run he was not overly pleased with being the ‘prop guy,’ doing segments involving mannequins, ketchup and mustard, and potted plants. He felt he was the Carrot Top of WWE. Interestingly, he asserted that, after the Shield broke up, he believed that WWE had no long term plans for him beyond his program with Seth Rollins, but that by battling the Authority and embracing a character that was influenced by Bruce Willis’ John McClane character in the ‘Die Hard’ movies he ‘got himself over’ and forced their hand.
In discussing his last few months after he notified WWE right after the Royal Rumble that he would not re-sign, he said he was not buried on his way out. However, he was bemused by the fact that the day after he told WWE this was the night he was punched out by Nia Jax on Raw. He and Jericho were both surprised that WWE took the unprecedented step of posting about his impending departure on their website almost right away. He noted that this backfired on them to an extent because not long after he lost to his old friend EC3 on Raw in two minutes. He feels that fans saw that and felt he was being buried on his way out, and as a result, reacted negatively that night and during matches between the two on house shows. EC3 was supposed to be the babyface, but instead, fans threw all their support behind Moxley (Ambrose at the time) at these shows. Apparently, McMahon was very irritated about that when he heard about it from house show reports.
While deriding the WWE process of having writers prepare scripts for wrestler instead of allowing creative freedom, he also aimed some pointed criticism at Vince McMahon, describing him as out of touch, and questioning if final creative decisions should come from an ‘old man.’ Near the end of the podcast, he added to this by contrasting McMahon with AEW owner Tony Khan. He said Khan is a real wrestling fan, where McMahon is more about the entertainment aspect. Jericho asked rhetorically whether McMahon is still a wrestling fan after being consumed by WWE for decades.
Moxley also spoke about the now famous video he posted on Twitter that showed him escaping from prison. He revealed that the video was made after he reached out to an old friend, former death match wrestler ‘Sick Nick’ Mondo who now works in film production. Mondo was actually the one who conceptualized the video. Moxley actually paid to produce it himself, and his vision was to create something akin to a movie trailer.
At the conclusion of the podcast, Jon Moxley spoke passionately about his future with AEW and away from WWE. He has a bucket list of opponents he wants to face and creative things he wants to do. He is also excited for the opportunity AEW presents for him to have creative freedom. Jon Moxley expressed his hope that AEW would push WWE to change, that they would prove ‘Vince is wrong,’ and that ‘WWE’s creative process sucks.’ His message to McMahon was ‘Your creative process sucks, change it!’ Jon Moxley is now AEW and WWE is now a part of his past.