It’s fair to call Jon Moxley an All Elite Wrestling OG despite his unique path to stardom. He wasn’t at All In, the Young Bucks and Cody Rhodes self-promoted show that started as an online bet and ended up the first non-WWE or WCW event to sell more than 10,000 tickets on American soil in 25 years. Maybe more importantly that show was the impetus for AEW. Moxley didn’t travel to Japan, Europe and all over America with the cast of Being The Elite and never appeared for Ring of Honor, where many BTE storylines truly crossed over into the squared circle.
Of course, Moxley wasn’t contractually allowed to. He was busy performing as Dean Ambrose back then, stagnating on WWE’s main roster and patiently waiting for his chance to break out of the dwindling relevance. As his intentions to leave McMahonland became public, with WWE making the rare move to recognize his exit in storyline, the company decided to give countless sendoff matches, teaming him with fellow members of The Shield for a final time! Wait, now it’s the final time! And one more time for good measure.
Moxley wasn’t with AEW from the beginning and attended neither the Jacksonville or Las Vegas press conference introducing the company’s roster. He was the first true outsider to join the fold, entering as its inaugural show ended, tossing Kenny Omega off a skyscraper stack of enlarged poker chips onto the stage. And throughout the last three years, when the company has needed someone to step up to battle through adversity or be at the top of the card with limited options because of injury, Moxley has been turned to more times than not. And he’s thrived in that role, giving indefatigable effort to a cause he didn’t found, but one Moxley no doubt set the standards for.
On a long list of accomplishments in AEW, maybe his most meaningful contribution is in the present. The company’s creative plans called for CM Punk to beat him for the AEW World Championship at All Out. After the post-show backstage brawl that saw several wrestlers suspended indefinitely including Punk, Moxley’s six-week vacation and time away from the company never happened. He stayed around. He did the mundane grunt work, despite his superstar status and gave stability to a chaotic time within AEW’s walls. And it’s the second time he did it this summer. After Punk got injured the first time in early June, Moxley was named interim champion. He’s been there to pick up the pieces from whatever mess, intentional or not, Punk created.
Moxley’s only extended absence from AEW since Double or Nothing 2019 was the last few months of 2021, when he entered a rehab facility for alcoholism. I see that as a sign of strength. Mox needed help and removed himself to not hurt others in the company to get it. And he’s looked incredible in the ring since his return. That’s also a positive repeated pattern for him. During the summer of 2020, when he was in his first reign as AEW World Champion, he had secondhand exposure to COVID-19. And he didn’t enter AEW’s bubble. It’s a good sign he was able to get that information before an outbreak occurred in the locker room.
For a majority of the unvaccinated era of the pandemic, Moxley was the company’s champion. He defeated Chris Jericho two weeks before the world shut down. And for a heavy majority of his first title reign, no one was in the crowd outside of extras from the AEW roster just beyond the barricade. That exchange between fan and wrestler is what makes the live art form of professional wrestling unique. And to lead the company in-cannon during that period was an extremely tough task that would’ve strained a normal person. Not Moxley.
To those shocked by Moxley’s drive, take a look at what he was up to before joining WWE. He wasn’t purely an athlete, a model, or a weightlifter. He cut his teeth in the deathmatch world of Combat Zone Wrestling. Moxley knew how to roll up his sleeves and get through tough work because he did it with almost no spotlight on him. For all the above, Moxley needs his flowers. He needs to be recognized as nothing less than one of the best professional wrestlers in the world today. He’ll never claim his status because he’s focused on lacing up his boots and kickin’ ass. And that’s precisely why he deserves it.
Coinciding with his efforts to help AEW through turbulent times, Moxley was slighted by the PWI 500 on Wednesday at No. 12, a ranking of the best wrestlers in the world as perceived as real sport, maybe because of his time away from WWE. That list is stupid, it’s low-hanging fruit. How on Earth do you leave him out of the top 10 though? His nine months are stronger than most wrestlers’ full years. Not everyone disrespects Moxley and I’m sure he doesn’t care or know. Either way, AEW is better with Mox at the helm. Hopefully there’s enough talent around him soon where he gets that vacation.