As you’ve probably already heard, Chris Jericho’s Talk is Jericho podcast just dropped an explosive new interview with Jon Moxley, the AEW wrestler formerly known as WWE Superstar Dean Ambrose. Moxley doesn’t mince words in describing his experiences with WWE. Although he first makes clear that he’s grateful for everything the company gave him, from working with Make-A-Wish to meeting his wife, he then reveals how frustrating he found it dealing with WWE creative, and especially the conflicts he had with Vince McMahon.
As Jon explains early on, he knew for sure that he was leaving WWE for about nine months, but chose to wait out his contract rather than ask for a release:
I knew, pretty much knew, that I was gone in July of 2018. And at that point I was out with an injury. I tore my tricep. Normally that would only be like a four month thing but it was so banged up and bruised because I had been working on it hurt for a long time. And it was just— the tendon was all mangled and everything, so I mean it was like minimum six months. Then I got a staph infection, then I had to go in for surgery again. It turned into nine months, it was a mess. Very miserable time in my life. Very challenging. In July is when I knew.
Even though I knew in July, I knew the whole time I wasn’t gonna quit. I wasn’t going to ask for my release, I wasn’t going to try to get fired, anything like that. I was just gonna ride it out to the very end, for a couple of reasons. One, I’d just rather not do business like that if I don’t have to. My wife works there. It would have been unfair to put her in a position of any awkwardness, you know? And you know, we get to April 30 and the clock strikes midnight, I’m just free and I get all my royalties. So if they’re gonna sell a Shield DVD in Cambodia two years from now, I’m getting my 2.7 cents.
Then he tells a story about a time he came into conflict with Vince McMahon about how his character should behave, which he describes as typical of his time in WWE:
So one day I come into TV like normal, at this time I think I’m on Smackdown. I’m a good guy, a babyface. A pretty major good guy on the show, basically the lead good guy on the show at this point. I come in and I get a backstage promo handed to me from a writer. “Writer” is going to be a key word in this podcast, you will find, and the word “script.” I get a script handed to me by a writer. And it’s a backstage promo and it’s me describing the things I did on the way to the arena that day. I can’t remember exactly what the things were, because they were so ridiculous. And this isn’t an isolated incident, there’s hundreds of these promos that have happened over the years that they all get lost in the shuffle. But it was three or four things, they weren’t things that a cool person does, that a relatable person does, that a guy you wanna have a beer with does. Not even things a guy you would root for does. These are things that an idiot would do. Like things along the lines of driving backwards on the street in a unicycle or, you know, sharing a pizza with a homeless man on the street, just weird stuff like that. So I’m like, “I’m not saying any of that.” Alright, so I’m like, “Change all of that. Rewrite it just to something normal.” Go about my business.
Writer comes back to me later. Vince redid it, put all that stuff back in. So I’m like “Ugh, oh god, now I have to go in and talk to Vince.” So if you can’t get it through without going in there, now Vince has rewritten it himself. Now it’s out of the writer’s hands, now I gotta go in and talk to Vince. Alright. I go in and talk to Vince, I’m like, “Yo, I can’t say all this stuff. It’s ridiculous.” And he’s like, “Oh! It’s such good shit! Oh, this stuff! This is the reason people like you! It’s why they connect to you! You’re different! This is you!” And I’ve had a million conversations with him that are almost this exact same conversation about similar promos or things. You know, “This is you! It’s such good shit! This is what makes you you!” And I said, “So I’m an idiot?” And he goes, “No, hahaha! It’s you! You’re different!” And I’m like, “Okay.” And I don’t know where we landed on that particular promo or whatever, but that kind of sums up the battle I’ve been fighting for six years.
After that, he goes into a very involved story about a particularly bad day he had after returning from injury and turning heel. He was supposed to deliver multiple promos on one show, and he was trying to get a line about a “pooper scooper” removed from one of them, because the line was so stupid. After being chided by Vince for always trying to rewrite his promos, Jon exploded at one of the writers.
I was like, “Why do I work here? I’m a professional wrestler who can tell stories and come up with promos and I believe that I have the abillity to talk people into buildings, I learned those skills years ago and wanted to bring them here to WWE and you just want me to say your stupid lines. If you want somebody to read your stupid lines, hire an actor. Cause they’ll probably do a better job of it than me. I’m not interested in doing it.”
It turns out the “pooper scooper” line was an unfortunate distraction, because that same day he’d end up bringing up Roman Reign’s cancer in a different promo, which he regrets.
Earlier I had to go into Vince, because in this promo there is a line, that’s a very distasteful line taking a jab at my friend who had leukemia and is now going off to recover from that, Roman Reigns. Something, I don’t remember what the line was, but I went, “I’m not saying that, are you kidding me?” I’m going right into Vince on this one, this is clearly a mistake.
So I go into, I think he was in a production meeting at the time, and I’m like, ‘Hey, real quick, This is— surely you don’t want me to say this.” And he’s like “Oh no, but Roman’s part of the story, we’ve got to make sure he’s still included, you turn on him and Seth,” and he kind of explains it to me, “You know, you just say the thing about Roman, just include him.” And he said it in kind of an innocuous way, where it kind of didn’t seem so bad, and I was just like, “Uh, okay,” and all the writers were like “Oh, you gotta say it” and basically he gave me the Vince Jedi mind trick. Which I’m pretty immune to at this point, but every once in a while he still gets me. It’s my fault, I got Jedi’d, whatever. So I’m like, “Oh okay,” right? So I think this one we did live, I cut the promo. As soon as that line left my mouth, I went ‘Oh my God I can’t believe I just said that.
Jericho: Do you remember what the line was?
It was just something about like “He’s got cancer, it sucks to be him,” something like that. Not cool, especially like with… I mean come on! You know, like, dude! And in the middle of all this, trying to get “pooper scooper” lines out of the script, I don’t even realize that this horrible thing that I shouldn’t be saying, that I said, it’s like “Oh my god.”
He goes on to say that he was given a much more offensive line about Roman’s leukemia later on, which he refused to say. After all that, he knew for sure that he was out, no matter what.
Whether AEW exists or not, I was still leaving WWE. It was good to know the wrestling business was doing so well outside of WWE, but even if it wasn’t, I still would have left. If there was no other promotions to work for in the world, I still would have left WWE. If there were no other wrestlers, I would have just started my own promotion, started my own training school, and trained my own opponents. I would have reseeded the wrestling business from scratch if I had to.
Moxley claims that he never even looked at the new contract WWE offered him. He says he doesn’t know how much money it would have been, but it doesn’t matter, because he has plenty of money for the kind of lifestyle he wants to lead. For him, the more important thing was being able to enjoy his work. Now that he’s out, he gets to do that again. He goes on to describe his feelings about AEW, how well he gets along with Tony Khan and Cody Rhodes, and how excited he is about the future. The whole interview is well worth a listen.