or STRENGTH IN THE SPIRIT OF STRANGERS
Sometimes I’m late to the party. Sometimes traffic is jammed on the ‘ol space-time continuum and you end up fifteen years late – or right on time, depending on who you ask.
I won’t go into all of the ins and outs of what kept me from following wrestling but I had no idea who Jon Moxley was until I started dabbling in AEW in late 2019.
I didn’t really know much of what was going on, who was who, or what had happened for the last decade and change in wrestling – and probably a bit in my actual life as well1. I was three months off the sauce, working in the taproom of a small brewery in a Northern Alabama war town where the only thing to do is drink, serving up poison and faking interest in the goings-on of Southern dramas to try and make an extra buck2.
Drink had been the demon I’d been dancing with since I was of age to start getting it myself. I didn’t have my first drink until just before I turned 21 but it made me weak at the knees. I liked the ways that it opened me up creatively and, maybe more-so, how it drowned out a lot of the sadness I was feeling – for a time3.
Listen.. I’m not really sure what to do here because I know you probably know how addiction works and chances are, you didn’t find yourself clicking about on a wrestling site looking to read about such things. Hell, I don’t really want to write about it. It’s not something I’m all too proud of.
I could just type “Insert Addiction Story”, kick the can down the block, and just jump into what I really want to talk about – which is how Jon Moxley makes me feel – but to just sort of mention it in passing feels wrong since it’s a piece of it4.
1 Life being a series of existential crises and Talking Heads lyrics, as it goes.
2 Which until I quit, what little extra was mostly going toward more liquor. A snake eating itself.
3 I had a Sunday school teacher when I was a teenager that often tried to warn us wayward youths to learn from his mistakes- but he reminded me too much of Yosemite Sam to take him seriously.
4 Here I take a break to go and watch Jon Moxley vs Filthy Tom Lawlor at Defy Wild Ones in April 2022. What an amazing match this is. It’s been one that I’ve gone back to a few times since it first aired. These two guys beat the ever living shit out of one another all over Defy. I lived south of Seattle for a few years and not once did I know that Defy existed while I was there, but I wish I had. Mox challenged Filthy Tom in late 2021 but the match was well worth the wait. The crowd is hot and ready to see these two guys brawl – and what a bloody brawl it becomes. Both men beating respect into one another the only way they know how – as hard as they can, leaving clouds of sweat and blood to dissipate. Moxley has an aura unlike anyone in the wrestling industry today and I feel like there’s something extra special when he turns up on these smaller independent shows. All of his fights have that “big fight feel” because it feels like he is going in to every match trying to figure out how he can make each one feel like the most important. Like each one could be his last. Mox fights like a man that’s seen the devil and spit in his face because he wants more blood.
So I’m going to touch on it a little – Alcohol wasn’t ever in my house growing up. My Grandpa was an alcoholic and so my mom was very against any idea of it. We never talked about it – it was just a known fact that there would never be a drop of alcohol in the house5 – but I guess it also made drinking something of a forbidden fruit. Why shouldn’t I be allowed to partake? What’s the worst that could happen?6
5 So even when I started drinking, I did my best to try and keep it to myself as to not disappoint my mother – a regular anxiety I keep even as a man in my mid 30s.
6 Here I take some time to watch the match Mox had at Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport 8 (March 2022) against Biff Busick. Another beautifully violent bout. If you’re not familiar with Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport, it is a special event put on by GCW and Barnett in which every match must end either by submission or knockout. The wrestling ring has a canvas with no ropes or turnbuckles and matches end up being more “worked shoot” that can have some catch wrestling and early MMA vibes. Everybody works really stiff and the blood is inevitable.
Moxley’s 2022 has been drenched in blood – his own and his opponents – and that includes this match. This is Mox’s 4th Bloodsport Appearance. He defeated Chris Dickinson at Bloodsport 3 (October 2020) and Davey Boy Smith Jr at Bloodsport 5 (February 2021). Moxley has only been defeated once, at Bloodsport 6 (April 2021) by Josh Barnett, himself, via knockout. Those dudes beat the absolute fuck out of one another.
I’m not as familiar with Biff Busick’s work but this match definitely made me take notice. The fellow has some good fight in him and holds his own against, arguably, the best brawler in professional wrestling. Busick was formerly featured on NXT as Oney Lorcan, but I wasn’t watching often so it wasn’t until after his release that I was properly introduced. Which seems to be the case for a lot of these folks that find themselves in similar situations. It can be hard to get a proper feel for some wrestlers until they are outside of the confines of WWE. Not that what they do in that company is bad, it’s just that they can often get locked into a particular style or move-set or feeling or whatever and we, as viewers, don’t get to see the wild things that live inside of some of these folks. Then when they leave that company, by their own choice or someone else’s, they are given the opportunity to be themselves and refocus on the things that they love about what they do and that can often bring out a new spark in them.
I think that happened with Mox. He was sanitized and kept at bay and under wraps as Dean Ambrose in the WWE. Yeah, he got some pushes, had some great matches, and a run with their World Title, but once you see what this maniac is doing when left to his own device – it’s a new animal.
Like I mentioned earlier, my introduction to Jon Moxley was in AEW, and at that point I knew nothing about “Dean Ambrose”. It was actually a nice surprise when I went back and started watching a lot of what I missed in WWE and out of nowhere Moxley is hanging out with a couple of other wet guys in tactical vests and powerbombing folks through tables as The Shield.
I have a couple of pals that weren’t into his WWE run at all and didn’t really want to give him a chance in AEW but I think Mox finally changed their minds when he and Eddie Kingston started teaming up in 2021. However, for me – I was all in on Mox pretty quickly, once I stopped trying to assign roles and peg wrestlers as trying to be newer versions of legends and let them just show me who they were.
My drinking was fun and relatively innocent at first – maybe hitting up an Irish Pub with my pals once a week to watch a lovely blind woman named Nancy play the piano and sing “Sweet Caroline” and other singalongs. Eventually, a few of my bandmates and I moved into a house together and in turn our social drinking became more of a nightly affair. We had a couple of bars that were close to our house that we would frequent and have a time in. I’ve got a lot of great memories from that period – but several not so great ones as well and more that are lost with brain cells to ashtrays and porches.
I can remember there being something of a turning point when I started getting more nihilistic and began self medicating with the booze after a high school friend passed away after complications from child birth. That was one of those moments where I started feeling like life was a cruel joke and feeling like there was nobody watching out for us.
I was becoming damned good friends with the bottle.
Eventually floodgates of past trauma and present sadness would open up and I’d drink to try and shut them. It worked for awhile and I felt like I was writing some of the best music and lyrics that I had written up to that point because the drink allowed me to separate myself from the work and look and write about it as an onlooker – almost out of body to a degree. I was able to address some of the depression and anxiety through my music in a way that I hadn’t been able to before.
Over time, though, you build up a tolerance and need more to get by and then you get disappointed in yourself for how much you’re drinking, so you drink more to try and forget about the disappointment. It’s a sick cycle7 and it became pretty masochistic where I knew the pain I was inflicting on myself. The poison I was forcing down my throat to feel.. to not feel.. to remember.. to forget.. in anger.. for faux happiness.. 8
7 I’m not saying this is everyone’s relationship with alcohol. I’m not here to judge anybody. I don’t dare speak for anyone else but myself – just laying out my own sickness.
8 Some real happiness for me is everything that Moxley is doing with the Blackpool Combat Club – a group of fighters forged in blood that began when William Regal brought together “The American Dragon” Bryan Danielson and Jon Moxley by slapping some sense into the two men following their amazing match against one another at AEW Revolution 2022.
I think that match is maybe sitting on the top of my “Match of the Year” board right now because of the match itself, the story leading into it where Moxley told Danielson that he doesn’t team with anybody until he bleeds with them first, and the stories coming out of the match that are continuing to be told. Danielson is the greatest wrestler of our generation, maybe of all time – Moxley is one of the best brawlers, and it’s been so much fun getting to watch them interact and fight one another and kick in the heads of others. They got to work together some while both men were in WWE at the same time, but seeing them in AEW without the restraints has been a thing of violent beauty. They feel unique and classic at the same time.
With Regal, they have already started taking in younger talent, like Wheeler Yuta – who had a notable run on the independent scene before finding his way into AEW and the Blackpool Combat Club. The BCC has helped to bring out the brutality in the young lion and I think Yuta is going to be a competitor that we continue to see for years to come, carrying that bloody banner and leaving everything he’s got in the ring. The growth he’s shown even in just the last few months has been something to behold.
I can’t wait to see where the story goes and grows with this group of violent gentlemen roaming the territories in search of pure glorious wrestling violence.
The years continued slipping in and out of consciousness – through relationships good and bad. I could feel it becoming a problem and strain when instead of opening up to anyone – even those very close to me – I would just drink to keep it down. If I was happy, I drank. If I was sad, I drank even more. Whatever I had to do to pretend that the loneliness I was feeling, even surrounded by people, wasn’t really there. I didn’t know how to be out in public or hanging out with people without a drink in my hand.
I didn’t really know how to be alone with myself without my brain being soaked by slugs of cheap vodka I snuck in between whatever stiff punch I was sipping9.
9 Speaking of stiff shots.. the trilogy of matches that Moxley had with Wheeler Yuta leading to his joining the Blackpool Combat Club was full of them. In their first match back in October of 2021, Mox squashed the poor lad in under a minute. Mox was a mad man looking to take out all of his aggression on whoever was standing across the ring from him.
The second bout in February 2022 lasted a fair amount longer. Wheeler was in better form and put up more of a fight but Moxley was still tougher and beat the hell out of him. Yuta was palling around with The Best Friends at this point but you could tell that Wheeler wanted more and didn’t quite fit in with that group. Moxley was still a lone wolf on the hunt for blood.
Danielson came out after the match to speak with Mox for the first time since joining All Elite Wrestling to propose that rather than fighting against one another, he and Moxley should be fighting together. Together they could run AEW. What if they were to join forces and take someone like Wheeler Yuta under their wings?
Danielson made a damn fine point.
Moxley and Yuta’s third match, and best of the trilogy, started with a bang. “Wild Thing” hit and Moxley made his way to the ring through the crowd but as soon as he got to the guard rail, Yuta leapt from the top turnbuckle to the outside onto Mox. The young lion was the most prepared I’d seen him to this point. Yuta put up a strong and fiery fight, never letting too much time settle – always staying on target. Yuta got busted open pretty early in the match but the crimson mask that made its way over his face didn’t slow him down. It gave him more to fight through and more reason to swing harder.
Mox gave him a King Kong Lariat, leaving a bloody imprint of Yuta’s face on Moxley’s bicep before Mox goes for the pin – but Yuta kicks out at 2. Yuta finds himself going for a big splash from the top rope, but Mox catches him with a kick to the stomach and delivers his finisher, The Paradigm Shift, to Yuta – but Wheeler kicks out at 2! The look on Moxley’s face is just complete disbelief. How is this little bastard still going? Wheeler sits up as Mox jumps into the referee’s face – furious that it wasn’t a 3 count.
Mox puts him in the bulldog choke, as blood continues to pump out of Yuta’s forehead – but still Wheeler refuses to give up. This is by far the most fight we’ve ever seen out of Yuta. He gets the upper hand on Moxley briefly, putting Moxley in a bulldog choke of his own before Mox fights his way out and delivers a Regal Knee off the ropes and a second Paradigm Shift – that Yuta kicks out of at 2 again! At this point I’m pumping my fists in the air and almost willing to see my favorite guy take a loss because Yuta is showing so much soul and fire!
Mox wastes no time and goes right to putting Wheeler in another rear choke, this time latching to Yuta, keeping him from going anywhere. This is all that he can take and the ref calls the match in favor of “The Blue Eyed Battler” Jon Moxley – but even Mox can’t deny the fight that Yuta has in him.
Regal and Danielson join the two fighters, still covered in Yuta’s blood, to celebrate and welcome him to the club.
The loneliness increased when I found myself at the end of a long relationship with someone I was still very much in love with, whom I had moved across the country to grow old with. So now that it was over, what was I supposed to do? Move to Iowa?
I moved to Iowa. Just for a month really – enough time to drink myself into oblivion and yell at God in an open field.
I’d soon make the rest of the trek back to my hometown in Alabama, in hopes that I might stumble upon some joy amongst family and friends who were glad to have me back – but like somebody said, “You can’t go home again.” The home you left isn’t there anymore, you’re always coming back to something different – for better or worse.10
10 I’m going to stop trying to find cute segues to give me an excuse to cut the tension and just talk about more great Moxley matches.. Just before his partnership with “The American Dragon”, Mox got the opportunity to team up with CM Punk to wrestle one of my favorite tag teams FTR (they’re tied with Butcher & Blade because it’s Butcher & Blade. I shouldn’t have to explain any further). This is another one of my favorite matches so far from this year.
In the build up to one of Punk’s matches against MJF, he was tasked with finding a partner to take on Living Legends Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler. AEW built to the match throughout the night but it wasn’t until “Wild Thing” hit and the crowd lit up that we knew Mox was going to be stepping in to help out Punk.
The four men put on a wrestling clinic from start to finish. When Mox and Punk went for the Doomsday Device I popped off of my sofa. I loved ever minute of it.
People forget that Mox is a great tag team wrestler because he is one of the top singles competitors in all of professional wrestling – but I’m glad that he’s gotten the opportunity to remind people that he’s still got all of that history in his pocket to pull from.
AEW has given him the chance to tell those stories with a variety of amazing partners, each one offering different story telling elements that we couldn’t get elsewhere. Like a Mox/ Eddie Kingston tag story is going to be different from a Mox/ Danielson tag story – both of them wonderful in their own ways.
Within a few months of my being back home, my father’s cancer also returned after having gone into hiding for a couple of years. This added to my depression and anger and drinking. I wasn’t emotionally set to handle all of this sort of heartbreak at once, so I did what I could to numb myself.
Working at the brewery obviously only exacerbated these things because there was no one to hold me accountable for my intake. Hell, most of them didn’t really know about the oversized bottle of rum or whiskey in my bag or that I was pouring it into my Sprite cans. Thinking to myself, “How else am I supposed to manage being around a bunch of other drunk assholes?”11
11 The Anarchy in the Arena Match of Double or Nothing 2022 – What a spectacle this was – another Match of the Year contender. On one side, representing professional wrestling, we have the Blackpool Combat Club’s Jon Moxley and Bryan Danielson teaming with Eddie Kingston, Santana, and Ortiz. On the other stands the Jericho Appreciation Society – Chris Jericho, Daniel Garcia, “Daddy Magic” Matt Menard, “Cool Hand Ange” Angelo Parker, and Jake Hager – representing “Sports Entertainment”.
Going into this match, I figured it would be fun but I kind of had low expectations for it. Boy was I ever wrong – of course I was – look at who’s involved! This was a constant energy filled brawl all over the arena from start to finish.
The JAS came out in all white, looking like they’d fallen through a Backstreet Boys video circa 1999, complete with backwards Kangol hats – while our badass baby faces made their way out through the crowd to “Wild Thing” and proceeded to let it keep playing all the way through twice before Jericho broke the sound board to stop it.
It harkened back to those WCW street fights from ’94-’95 that would find folks like the Nasty Boys and Harlem Heat beating the shit out of one another in a concession stand but this time, it’s Daddy Magic covered in blood from Eddie Kingston, who’s covered in mustard, stabbing Menard in the forehead with a fork (Menard showed up a few days later on Dynamite with the puncture wounds proudly on display) – and now Garcia’s pulling Eddie down the hall by the neck using his belt.
Meanwhile Moxley and Jericho are busting one another open with bottles and a cooler. Jericho tried to put Mox into the Lion Tamer on a fold up table but it collapsed before he could – pancaking poor Moxley. (It’s also worth noting here that Jericho has once again reimagined himself and created another classic Jericho variant. He looks healthy and like he’s still having fun throwing fireballs into peoples faces.)
The entire layout of this match from start to finish was a thing of beauty and worth going back and studying. It was the highlight of Double or Nothing and definitely one for the history books. There are some great and interesting stories coming out of that match and I look forward to seeing where they go with it all.
After another failed relationship, that certainly wasn’t helped by my own ineptitude to keep my demons under control, and seeing the continued degradation of my health and others around me putting themselves through something similar – I made the decision to quit.
Cold turkey on a disappointed Tuesday morning after a Monday night war with the bottle.
I’d hit a wall. I was tired of feeling like shit all of the time. I was tired of feeling like a disappointment to my family and friends and myself. I was ready to take some responsibility and try to find some other way to fight the pain that was inside me. I was tired of slowly killing myself.
Music had been my escape for years and years, but it hurt way too much to listen to most of my favorites because I had too many memories and feelings glued to these songs and bands that I loved. So I started looking to other things from my past that used to bring me joy – which ultimately brought me through a portal12 back to my love for wrestling.
Jon Moxley was in the early stages of his feud with, then AEW World Champion, Chris Jericho13. They weren’t re-designing the wheel – they were telling an interesting story in an old school way that even a casual viewer could pick up on pretty quickly and be entertained by.
I enjoyed a lot of the other stuff on the show, even though these were mostly new athletes to me and I didn’t know the years of history or the stories that were waiting in the past14.
It was really the Moxley story that was keeping me coming back though. He was preparing to challenge Jericho for the title at AEW’s Revolution Pay Per View and I was invested. I wanted to see this tough son of a bitch get his moment and win the title.
That’s exactly what he did on February 29, 2020 – right before the world stopped.
COVID hit and everything shutdown15. From there, wrestling really became a constant for me again. It was already something that I enjoyed – but now it was becoming a weird life force and one of the only joys I had to latch onto throughout my week. Had I not had that to look forward to, and kind of throw my consciousness at – I feel like I would have probably fallen off of the wagon and back into my pit of sadness and helplessness16.
12 The Butcher
13 Who I definitely knew from the many years I watched in my childhood and teens
14 I’d learn more as the COVID lockdown gave me a lot of time to catch up on what I’d missed
15 Here I was, fresh on the wagon and eager to turn my life into something better and put my drunken past behind me – and the world changes. It’s like that old joke “Do you know how to make God laugh? – Make a plan.”
16 Not that the sadness has magically gone away or something – it’s still a fight every day
Instead – despite the sadness and the conscious decision every day to not go back to my old habits, I replaced that with one of the only other things that could offer me some joy and comfort – professional wrestling. Jon Moxley was a massive part of that because he was telling interesting stories and having phenomenal matches – setting up his legacy as, in my opinion, the greatest All Elite Wrestling World Champion17. It was a battle filled title run that ended with him being robbed of the championship by “the best bout machine” Kenny Omega and his creepy uncle figure, Cyrus the Virus18, at the end of 2020.
Moxley continued having banger matches all over AEW, New Japan Pro Wrestling19, and other independent promotions. He turned up in Game Changer Wrestling where he won their world title from Matt Cardona and later defended it against his old friend and rival, “the King of the Death Match” Nick Gage, in a violent affair that left both men bloody, scarred, and covered in glass and spooky dust particles.
In the Fall of 2021, Mox was having a hell of a run in AEW making his way through the World Title eliminator tournament where he was working toward getting another shot at what he had never fairly lost. He was on one side of the tournament brackets while Bryan Danielson was on the other side, and it seemed like both of these men were on track to win their side of the brackets and face off against one another to see who would become the number one contender for the championship.
But we weren’t going to get that match just yet..
In early November of 2021, it was announced that Jon Moxley had entered himself into an inpatient rehab center to seek help for his issues with alcohol abuse.
The strongest, most bad ass guy that I knew of was now showing new levels of courage by admitting that he had a problem. A problem that I knew about. That I struggled with. That I was fighting on a daily basis.
And he wasn’t too proud to ask for help. He saw that there was an issue and knew that it was going to take more than he had in him to beat it on his own. So he had the bravery to ask for help.
17 I even drove to see him defend the title against MJF at All Out 2020 when AEW allowed a limited amount of fans to come to the show.
18 Don Callis
19 he was the IWGP United States Champion for 564 days – which seemed to be a big part of the relationship growth between AEW and NJPW.
It’s almost unheard of in the wrestling industry and history books to find someone that was at the top of the game, like Moxley was, and have them be willing to take a step back for their health – both mental and physical.
I remember the first Dynamite after it was announced that he would be taking a break and how the crowd chanted his name and how I teared up at how sad I was for his struggle and how proud I was of this stranger, ultimately, that has made me feel something through the art he creates in the ring and on the microphone. I was happy that he was seeking help but sad that he was having to fight a similar demon20 to my own – so I felt for him. I just wanted for him the same thing I want for most people21 – peace, love, and happiness. Whatever that was going to take for him to find.
A few months went by and there wasn’t a lot of word. Moxley deserved all the time and space out of the public eye that he needed to get to wherever he wanted and needed to get. If he never came back, that would have been understandable, and we would have to accept that it’s what’s best for him.
But by God, he did come back.. and better than ever. Seriously.. and that’s saying something because the guy was already fantastic but he came back lean22 and mean and as he put it, in one of the best talking segments23 ever, thirsty for blood!
Moxley returned to AEW Dynamite on January 19, 2022 in one of the most special moments in wrestling and television24. He tells an amazing story about facing off against his demon25.
20 big ugly motherfucker
21 things I wasn’t always so kind as to want for myself.
22 I want to take a second to note that everyone’s recovery is different. I remember seeing pictures of alcoholics a year after they’d stopped drinking and how thin and nice they looked. What a change! That was not the case for me and I beat myself up over it for a while because I hadn’t lost a lot of weight or gotten better looking – but over time I have been able to accept myself more and try to remind myself that everyone is different. Every recovery is different.
23 I struggle to call it a promo because that’s not what it was. This was something more.
24 I just queued up the clip on YouTube and as soon as “Wild Thing” hits, I get a big grin and feel a welling up of happy tears from my chest. I’m just so happy for the guy.
25 Typing it out doesn’t do it justice. Just watch the entire thing (it’s probably just below this:)
It’s heartfelt and honest and poetic and gritty and unafraid and so many more adjectives that I could write but the key takeaway, for me, was him saying:
“Nobody’s perfect, alright? If everybody was perfect the world would be a very boring place. So nobody – no matter who you are should be afraid to stand up in front of the whole world and bare it all. Everything that makes you the person that you are, scars and all, and say, hey – (flips bird) this is me!”
I don’t know Jon Moxley. I don’t know that I’ll ever get to meet him, wouldn’t know what to say if I did outside of, “Thank you.” – but there was/is something so freeing having this stranger that I happen to have admiration for give permission for me to share myself and not be ashamed of my struggles. Hell, my victories, even. I’ve been so ashamed of the demon that I carried that I felt weak sharing that I’ve been kicking its ass for 985 days26. That’s a triumph! But I’ve been too afraid to really talk about it.
But since Jon Moxley had the courage to lay his heart and soul and flaws and scars out there – that’s given me the courage to share about my own struggle in a way that I don’t know if I’d have gotten to otherwise. Maybe somebody reading this has been afraid to share their story or their struggle with addiction or mental health or whatever it is you’re going through or have gone through – maybe this will offer some courage to share your own story.
Maybe you’re dealing with addiction, and if so maybe this will let you know that you’re not alone. There’s a lot of us that are fighting these demons on a daily basis. Some days are easier than others – just don’t be afraid to fight and spit in the face of the ugly surly bastards. You are stronger than you feel on your worst days and there is nothing wrong with asking for help.
“I don’t run from demons – I just beat the shit of them. For everybody in thisbuilding and everybody all around the world that’s had my back, that supported me through thick and thin – thank you – and buckle up and get ready because we’re going on a ride, baby, in the year of 2022. I am going on a pilgrimage! I’m going to grab the world of professional wrestling by the balls and do whatever the hell I want! Because now, more than ever – more than anybody in this business – I am truly free.”
We’re only halfway through 2022 right now and – let me tell you – Jon Moxley wasn’t bullshitting when he said all that. Since his return he has looked better than ever, sounded better than ever and shows no signs of stopping. When he had to step away, I remember having conversations with pals about how we just hoped he came back and not knowing if and when he would – and then once he got back who knew to what degree he’d even want to be.
Then as soon as he returned and put it all on the line like this, it was obvious that we were in store for something special27. Jon Moxley is on an all time ride with multiple match of the year contenders – with just a couple of exceptions, the majority of the matches I’ve talked about in this essay have been from the first 6 months of 2022.
26 at the time of this writing. 1000 days as of June 20, 2022.
27 I want to note here that I’m not putting Moxley on a pedestal or anything for what he’s done – I know I don’t want to be put on one, that just gives something to fall off of. This is just admiration for the courage and bravery to face off against something that is doing harm to one’s life. This demon isn’t one that necessarily dies just because you defeated it once. Like I mentioned, it takes a conscious effort to fight it and there’s nothing to say that I, or someone else that’s going through it, won’t have a moment where the sickness takes over and we might slip. That doesn’t mean that all that has been accomplished was for nothing. That doesn’t mean that we were any less brave for having had the strength to face it before. I just hope that if I find myself there again, that I would have the strength to reach out for help – and having someone that my brain can point to, like Jon Moxley, who has done such things in the past will hopefully remind me that it’s brave to ask for help and doing so doesn’t make me weak. Sometimes we need help to fight off demons and there’s nothing wrong with that – we just have to have the courage to ask for it.
There’s even a new wrinkle in the story because, as of a week or so ago, the current AEW World Champion – CM Punk – announced that he is going to be sidelined with an injury and AEW would be having a series of matches, culminating at Forbidden Door, AEW’s joint PPV with New Japan, to crown an interim World Champion while Punk has to be out of action to get surgery and recoup.
The Dynamite following Punk’s injury announcement began with a Casino Battle Royal, where Kyle O’Reilly of the “Undisputed Elite/ reDRagon” beat out twenty other men to gain a chance to face Moxley in the main event, deciding who would go on to battle for the interim AEW World Heavyweight Championship at the Forbidden Door PPV.
O’Reilly and Moxley had a great match and you could tell that Mox was enjoying himself in there with the feisty fighter. It took a moment for the two to sort of feel each other out and get acquainted, feedback building before the chords kick in, but it wasn’t long before they were locked into a steady tune that kept getting louder and hitting harder. As William Regal, on commentary, put it “two warriors of the canvas” going at one another with everything they had. Moxley daring O’Reilly to hit him as hard as he could, and Kyle bringing it. O’Reilly taking just about everything Mox could throw at him – which included Moxley getting Kyle in a chokehold of some sort while O’Reilly was on the top rope and Mox proceeding to Superplex him to the canvas. Kyle wasn’t without his own great moments, like when Moxley set O’Reilly up in a Gotch-Style Piledriver, which was the perfect setup for O’Reilly to pull Mox into an armbar submission. The bout was unsparing and had some similar moments you might see in a Bloodsport match, to a degree – with both men working stiff and putting up one hell of a fight.
Moxley came out of the match the victor after keeping O’Reilly in the bulldog choke, giving him some deep knees to the head, a Regal knee for good measure, and then finally the Death Rider, an elevated Paradigm Shift, to get the pinfall – Moxley laying and putting as much of his weigh on O’Reilly to keep him down – knowing he’s emptied his arsenal on the lad.
This sets up Moxley to take on Hiroshi Tanahashi at Forbidden Door on June 26, who just defeated Hirooki Goto to gain his spot, to see who will become the interim AEW World Heavyweight Champion. I’m very excited about what this could mean for Jon Moxley. Him against Tanahashi has been a dream match that many, including Moxley, have been waiting on for a long time, but hasn’t happened in a one-on-one capacity yet – and this feels like a perfect opportunity, with Moxley being an integral part of the elusive “forbidden door”.
I’m biased, but I’m obviously hoping that Moxley comes out of the match as the interim World Champion. Proving himself, once again, as the true “Ace” of All Elite Wrestling and getting to have a championship run in front of fans, after previously carrying the championship – and the company – through the “no/minimal fans” era, and only getting to defend the title in Jacksonville.
The man has been through Hell and back and he’s not about to slow down for anyone.
I think Mox is already proving himself as the wrestler of the year – and we’re only about halfway through 2022. I didn’t even get into some of his other great matches with Will Ospreay, Daniel Garcia, and others.
I’ve been enjoying everything that’s been going on with the Blackpool Combat Club and getting hyped for Blood & Guts, which is coming up the Wednesday after Forbidden Door, that Moxley being a title contender wasn’t penciled in for me until maybe at All Out this year, when I felt like we might get Mox vs CM Punk – but I’m all for Moxley being given a chance to carry gold again sooner.
I think that history will be kind to Jon Moxley but also feel like he maybe doesn’t get enough credit for how great he is at what he does and the legacy he is creating both in and out of the ring. No matter what happens in the rest of 2022 – which I anticipate will be more of Mr. Mox’s Wild Ride – and I am 100% along for it. I am so thankful that we are getting more from a fired up and passion filled Jon Moxley on the hunt to quench his thirst.
Thanks to the wonderful West Smith (@1800WestSmith) as well as DEFY Wrestling for the incredible photos.