Jon Moxley was fed up.
The former heavyweight champion, who had spent the better part of eight years as one of the faces of the company while performing as Dean Ambrose, knew that his time in WWE was coming to an end.
While his contracted expired in April, Moxley explained during a recent appearance on Chris Jericho’s podcast ‘Talk is Jericho’ that he knew last July that his time in WWE was finished.
“I knew pretty much knew that I was gone in July of 2018,” Moxley explained. “At that point, I was out with an injury. I tore my tricep. Normally that would only be 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 so it was like a minimum of six months. Then I got a staph infection and I had to go in for surgery.
“It turned into nine months, it was a mess. A very miserable time in my life, very challenging.”
When Moxley returned from injury he was transitioned from a babyface to a heel for the first time since he was a founding member of ‘The Shield’ alongside his friends Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins.
Unfortunately, Moxley says the creative direction that WWE took his character was just abysmal with several promos that eventually sealed the deal that he wasn’t going to renew his contract with the company.
Moxley points to two specific incidents that burned the bridge between himself and WWE where he could no longer see himself performing there after his deal was up.
“The first one I’m going to tell you is the day that I physically looked at the calendar and started counting down the days,” Moxley explained. “The other one will be the day that I absolutely knew, no turning back, I am gone. A day I almost walked out.”
The first incident involved a set of promos that had Moxley saying things that made absolutely no sense to him whatsoever and it forced him to go speak to WWE CEO Vince McMahon in hopes of having the scripts rewritten before saying them on video.
“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 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, right? 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. They all get lost in the shuffle.” Moxley said.
“These are things that an idiot would do. Like things along the lines of like driving backwards on the street in a unicycle or 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.’ So I’m like, ‘Change all that. Rewrite it just as 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, “Uh, now I have to 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 cause 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. ‘This is you! This is such good s—t. This is what makes you, you!’
“And I said, ‘So I’m an idiot?’ And he goes, ‘No! It’s you! You’re different.’ And I’m like, ‘OK.’ And I don’t know where we landed on that particular promo, whatever, but that’s just an example, that kind of sums up the battle I’ve been fighting for six years.”
The next incident that had Moxley counting down the days until he could get out of WWE for good was another promo that involved a ‘pooper scooper’.
“All the things that are on these scripts, it’s a typical WWE script. It’s a bunch of words, a bunch of big words, a bunch of goofy words, none of it makes any sense to me. We’re not telling any kind of tangible story. We’re not doing anything to get any kind of characters over. Nothing that makes any sense to me,” Moxley stated.
“But the one I’m most concerned with is the in ring promo at the end of the night. We go into the writer’s room, I start reading this promo and again not trying to pass judgment, but to my eye in my opinion, this is absolute hot garbage, awful crap.
“The main gist of it is the people are smelly, disgusting people and they’re foul, disgusting [people]. You can kind of just see Vince saying these words ‘oh Liverpool, sounds like a skin disease!’. You can just picture the Vince face.”
“The thing that catches my eye the most is a joke about a pooper scooper. Like something along the lines of ‘I wouldn’t come out there without a pooper scooper’. And I’m like ‘I’m not saying that’.”
While Moxley was able to get rid of the ‘pooper scooper’ line, there was another part of the promo that had him turning Roman Reigns’ real life battle with leukemia into part of his story on television.
That definitely crossed a line in Moxley’s mind but through some convincing from McMahon, he ended up cutting the promo as written.
“I go off to do another promo and I believe this one was live and again it doesn’t make any sense to me, I’m just saying stuff and earlier I had to go into Vince because in this promo there’s 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. I don’t remember what the line was but I went ‘are you kidding me?’ so I’m going right into Vince on this one. This is clearly a mistake.
“I cut the promo and as soon as that line left my mouth I went ‘oh my god, I can’t believe I just said that’. “
The last straw was a final promo that Moxley was ordered to cut where he was going to be backstage with his ‘personal doctor’, who would be giving him injections to protect him from rabies and other diseases that could come from the WWE audience in the building.
“Keep in mind during all this, this is a billion-dollar company run by a man who’s allegedly a genius and keep in mind, we’re all adults and we’re talking about stuff like this,” Moxley said.
“This is the day I knew 100-percent I was gone and there was no turning back. I actually almost walked out. Not really, I’m glad I didn’t cause I could have ended up in some legal stuff or whatever.”
In the end, Moxley did as he was ordered but there was no turning back and his time with WWE was going to come to an end no matter what.
At the end of his eight year run with WWE, Moxley says the world’s biggest professional wrestling promotion actually took away his passion for professional wrestling and that hurt him more than anything else.
“It’s like they take wrestling away from you,” Moxley said about WWE. “Wrestling is my first love, my only love besides my wife, the thing I’m most passionate about. I love it. I feel like now I’ve got it back finally. Since I was a little kid, I was obsessed. Just watching tapes, always watching tapes, always thinking of promos, watching all the wrestling. I loved pacing around my house just thinking of promos. Waking up in the middle of the night cause you just thought of a cool line, a way to tell a story in a match or whatever, and then I’m just pacing through the house cutting promos to myself in a mirror.
“Promos used to be my favorite part of wrestling. I loved it. They ended up becoming my least favorite part. The part I dread.”
As much as his WWE career ended on a sour note, Moxley is still able to look back with fondness for the good times he had with the company. In particular, Moxley enjoyed working with the ‘Make-A-Wish’ foundation and WWE also allowed him to meet his wife — on air talent Renee Young — and that is something he will absolutely never regret.
“If nothing else, over all these past eight years, I met my wife in WWE, who’s my best friend and my soulmate,” Moxley said. “If we got nothing else out of this run, I got her. I always tell her, if things get too weird, we’ll just sell all this stuff, we’ll hop in an RV and we’ll hit the road babe cause all we need is each other.
“Needless to say the last eight years couldn’t have been any more successful and full of gratitude for WWE for that.”
Now Moxley is beginning the next chapter of his career after inking a multi-year deal with All-Elite Wrestling and he will also be performing in promotions such as New Japan Pro Wrestling as he moves on without WWE.
Listen to “The Emancipation of Jon Moxley” on Talk Is Jericho: