The Jon Moxley Story: Uninspired To Unchained

Mox is one of the hottest things in professional wrestling, here's how it all came to be.

Jon Moxley

A resuscitation is reviving something that was lifeless. In the world of pro wrestling, a wrestler’s career can get to a point of needing revitalizing in order to move forward. This has happened to many former wrestlers’ careers, including: Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, and even The Rock, just to name a few. The definition of insanity is trying the same things over and over and expecting different results, and that’s exactly what happened to Jon Moxley throughout his eight-year tenure in WWE as ‘The Lunatic Fringe’ Dean Ambrose.

Jon Moxley grew up in Ohio and had a keen eye for professional wrestling. He would watch all the matches from WWE, WCW, ECW, as well as any other promotion he could get footage of. In June 2004, while enjoying time in a flea market, he came across a flyer for Les Thatcher’s Main Event Pro Wrestling Camp. In June 2004 after only a year of training with Thatcher and Cody Hawk, he made his debut in Heartland Wrestling Association and dropped out of high school so he could solely focus on becoming a pro wrestler.

He would wrestle in HWA for five years, wrestling in bingo halls and armouries with the dream of one day becoming a WWE superstar. Moxley won the tag team titles four times and the World Heavyweight title three times. He would tag with Sami Callihan another Ohio native, where the duo would form a faction with Pepper Parks known as The Crew.

Moxley continued his quest by working for several other independent promotions, most notably Combat Zone Wrestling, which is known for their insane hardcore/deathmatches. Moxley joined up with Callihan and Joe Gacy to form the Switchblade Conspiracy. The trio wreaked havoc over CZW as wild rebels who played by their own rules with little regard for bodies or other talent. Their matches – both bizarre and crazy – would even at times, make ECW look like a cakewalk. Moxley found great success and by the end of his first year, becoming the #1 contender at Cage of Death XI and toppling B-Boy at the 11th anniversary show.

By 2010, he had captured the Full Impact Pro World title, defeating Roderick Strong, while also keeping the CZW championship at the same time. Shortly after, Moxley debuted in Evolve, an uncertified testing ground for up and coming WWE Superstars such as Brodie Lee, Johnny Gargano and Rich Swann.

In 2011, Moxley’s life would be changed forever, as he was offered a developmental contract with Florida Championship Wrestling. Debuting under a new name, Dean Ambrose’s first match would be against future Shield brethren Seth Rollins, who was the current FCW 15 Champion. The two put on some incredible iron man contests, with fifteen and twenty-minute intervals but would both end in draws. With no conclusive winner, their rivalry would have its epic rubber match. Rollins and Ambrose would fight one last time for the gold, but this time for an unprecedented thirty minutes of non-stop action.

Both competitors gave all they had to one-up each other at every turn. The champion and challenger shared one fall each, but Rollins would ultimately win the contest and retain his championship. This incredible match helped revamp the whole division, however not too long afterwards, FCW dissolved and became the NXT brand we all know and love today. Ambrose was not included in this new territory, but Rollins and a newcomer, Leakee (Roman Reigns), would continue to hone their craft on the developmental scene.

At the 2012 Survivor Series, a trio of men — three young and hungry athletes who were tired of waiting for their time to shine — would take their future into their own hands. They called themselves The Shield. Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns burst onto the scene and would change the landscape of WWE forever.

Less than a year after their debut, all three members of The Shield would claim gold for the first time in WWE at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view. Reigns and Rollins captured the Tag Team Championships and Ambrose won the United States Championship, which he then held for an impressive total of 351 days. The Shield would dominate the main roster and dish out their own version of justice until the faction imploded from within in 2014.

24 hours after the trio defeated one of the greatest factions in WWE history – Evolution – one of the most shocking betrayals took place. Rollins was revealed as Triple H’s ‘Plan B’, who would be used to systematically destroy The Shield, and viciously attack Reigns and Ambrose with thunderous chair shots heard around the world.

Rollins, with the help of ‘The Authority’, became the most hated man in WWE and would reach the top of the mountain by hook or by crook. He won the 2014 Money in the Bank briefcase and become the first and only superstar to cash-in at WrestleMania. Meanwhile, Ambrose would be hell-bent on revenge for his former partner’s dastardly actions. For most of 2015, Ambrose would get closer than ever before to the coveted World Championship.

Rollins and Ambrose shared several fantastic matches for the title. Their biggest encounter was a ladder match at the 2015 Money in the Bank pay-per-view. Ambrose would have his hands on the gold for only a split second, but as both men fell from the ladder after a brutal game of tug of war, the champion barely managed to keep hold of the title long enough to rip it down.

A few short months later, Rollins would suffer an unfortunate injury that required surgery, forcing him to vacate his championship. A huge tournament was created with winners battling in the main event of 2015 Survivor Series for the vacant title. The two final competitors were former Shield members, Ambrose and Reigns. Despite the deafening crowd responses Ambrose would receive, he was not the man they wanted to carry the company.

Reigns always had the look of a strong and resilient badass, while Ambrose was deemed the “Lunatic Fringe” with a Jekyll and Hyde personality. Reigns defeated his best friend to capture the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Throughout the remainder of the year, Ambrose would fall down the ranks and challenge for the Intercontinental Championship, while Reigns remained in the main event picture.

At the 2016 Roadblock event, Ambrose would challenge HHH for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, in a spectacular match that was as intense as much as it was hard-hitting. He would come so close to realizing his dreams and becoming the top champion, but was eventually defeated. Ambrose would be included in the triple threat match between him, Lesnar and Reigns with the winner facing HHH at WrestleMania 32. Once again he would be overlooked despite the crowd support he had, and Reigns would yet again be given the spotlight, while he went on to feud with Brock.

Ambrose’s time to shine would finally come later in the year at the Money in the Bank pay per view, as Rollins had made his return from injury and would challenge Reigns for the championship that he never lost. Ambrose won the Money in the Bank briefcase and cash-in on Rollins straight after his title win. A memorable night for all three members of The Shield, where they would all hold the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in under 5 minutes.

Dean Ambrose
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cagesideseats.com

The next month, all three men would battle it out for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at the Battleground pay-per-view; Ambrose won the match and took the championship home to SmackDown Live. His first and only championship reign came crashing down at the Backlash pay-per-view, when he lost to AJ Styles.

Over the next year, while Ambrose was scratching and clawing for opportunities, his former teammates would be eclipsing him. With no direction in sight for the ‘Lunatic Fringe’ a return to Monday nights was imminent. He paired up with a familiar comrade in Seth Rollins. The former Shield members took the Raw Tag division to new heights, after their triumphant victory at the 2017 SummerSlam against The Bar.

Shortly after joining forces again, the Tag Team champions aligned with Reigns to even the odds, and The Shield were reborn. Picking up right where they left off, the dominant trio was once again riding high with momentum, until Ambrose needed shoulder surgery and would be out of action for nearly a year. During his recovery, Rollins became a grand-slam champion, after capturing the Intercontinental Championship from The Miz at WrestleMania 34.

The ‘Lunatic Fringe’ made his anticipated return with a more rugged look and more muscle, just in time for Rollins’ highly-anticipated IC title rematch against Dolph Ziggler. It was the same old shtick for Ambrose, despite rumours swirling that he would eventually turn heel. On the same night, Reigns culminated his over three-year rivalry with Brock Lesnar and claim the Universal Championship.

The following night on Raw, Braun Strowman was preparing to cash-in his Money in the Bank briefcase, but a familiar tune played through the arena. Once again The Shield reunited for the sole purpose of keeping the championship on Reigns.

Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose
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Bleacher Report

On October 23, 2018, Roman Reigns iopened Raw with a sombre announcement, revealing that his leukaemia had returned and would need to relinquish the Universal Championship to battle the biggest fight of his life. The image of all three members of The Shield embracing in a hug made this moment that much more emotional. Later in the evening, both Rollins and Ambrose dedicated their Tag Team Championship match against Ziggler and McIntyre to their Shield brother and real-life best friend.

The main event was an instant classic to close out the show, finished by a genuine feel-good moment as Ambrose and Rollins defeated their foes to capture the Raw Tag Team Championships. But as the song goes, anything can happen in a New York minute. When all was right with the world it all came crashing down for The Shield, when Ambrose delivered an earth-shaking Dirty Deeds to his partner and friend.

He would get the heel turn that was long overdue but it was a huge flop. Instead of breathing new life into a tired and exhausted character, WWE sucked whatever passion was left inside of the ‘Lunatic Fringe’. His new persona failed to connect with the WWE Universe, after weeks of forced promos about hygiene.

The former partners clashed for the Intercontinental Championship at TLC where Ambrose promised to take everything away from Rollins, including his title. The highly anticipated match would finally happen, but something was completely off. Their bout was slow and uninspiring. Neither competitor could find the chemistry they shared with each other in their exhilarating feud back in 2014-2015, Ambrose won the Intercontinental Championship that night, but it didn’t matter at this point. He quickly lost the championship to Bobby Lashley within a fortnight.

Ambrose was a shell of himself; completely uninspired and going through the motions during the last month, in what was supposed to be a rejuvenation of his character. In early 2019, a ground-breaking announcement was made by WWE after weeks of speculation about Dean Ambrose’s situation.

Dean Ambrose [Jonathan Good] will not be renewing his contract with WWE when it expires in April. We are grateful and appreciative of all that Dean has given to WWE and our fans. We wish him well and hope that one day Dean will return to WWE.”

In the weeks to come, Ambrose wouldn’t be booked in any direction. He interrupted A Moment with Bliss and challenged EC3 to a match. The following week, Ambrose became involved in a ridiculous segment with Nia Jax; 24 hours after she shocked the world with her entrance in the 2019 Men’s Royal Rumble Match. With only a handful of people knowing about Ambrose’s exit from the company, WWE stuck the knife in deeper in an attempt to humiliate him on his way out.

On May 29, 2019, Dean Ambrose (Jon Moxley) sat down for an in-depth interview with  WWE veteran and current AEW superstar Chris Jericho’s Podcast Talk is Jericho, where he opened up about the creative differences in his eight-year tenure with WWE and what led to his departure. He goes into extreme details about the Jax storyline; and how it became the final straw for him.

On April 30, 2019, minutes after the clock struck midnight, his contract officially expired and Moxley released an 87-second teaser trailer foreshadowing his return to the indies. In the video, Moxley breaks out of prison and escapes whilst being chased by rabid dogs, wrapping himself up in barbed wire as he re-enters society.

Moxley made his shocking return to television at AEW’s Double or Nothing. After Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega obliterated each other in the main event, he viciously attacked both men. The lasting image of Moxley on top of the poker chips was a sight to behold. Shortly after the ground-breaking event for professional wrestling, it was announced that Moxley had signed with AEW for a multi-year contract, however, this last week, the news broke out that he also would also be wrestling for NJPW.

After Moxley’s debut at AEW “Double Or Nothing,” he will making another debut in New Japan Pro Wrestling on June 5th. NJPW began hyping a mysterious challenger for the “Best of the Super Juniors” show, and that individual would challenge IWGP United States Champion, Juice Robinson. After a teaser vignette was shown on May 3rd, with an ominous man holding a knife in a dingy bar, the challenger was revealed as none other than Moxley.

Moxley is the talk of professional wrestling now, his teaser trailer added much hype to his debut in AEW, and now with him battling one of NJPW’s finest gaijin, the future is bright with WWE in his rear-view. There’s no telling how much of the old Moxley will return, but the new version is naturally going to be a success.

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