In his first ever interview since leaving WWE, coming off the heels of a shocking surprise debut at AEW Double or Nothing, Jon Moxley sits down for a tell-all conversation with the legendary Chris Jericho on this week’s episode of Talk is Jericho.
The former world champion started out the interview expressing appreciation for his time spent in WWE, in particular working with the Make-a-Wish foundation, and of course meeting his wife, Raw commentator and former backstage interviewer Renee Young.
“I have never been happier. I am at the absolute apex of life right now. I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders. Nothing but gratitude towards WWE. Nothing but positivity over here. I’m so grateful for my run there – that place changed my life. When I walked in there I was a kid, and now I’m an adult. I grew up there in a lot of ways. In a lot of ways I’m a different person than I was when I started there, and I’ve learned a lot of life skills, and grown as a person.”
“I got to live my dream. I got to do so many amazing things in the ring in WWE. I got the opportunity and the real blessing to be a big part of the Make-a-Wish program, and to connect with so many fans around the world. It’s something I took real seriously, over my whole time there no matter what I was mad about. Until you are one of those guys doing Make-a-Wish stuff, and you meet these fans who tell you these stories about how you helped them persevere through whatever – I always took that responsibility very seriously. I was always very grateful for that.”
“If nothing else, I met my wife in WWE, who is my best friend and my soulmate. If we got nothing else out of this run, I got her. I always tell her, if things ever get too weird, we’ll just sell all this stuff, hope in an RV and we’ll hit the road, because all we need is each other. Needless to say the last 8 years couldn’t have been more successful, and I’m full of gratitude towards WWE for that.”
Photo Credit: Ricky Havlik
Moxley then quickly changed gears, jokingly that with the warm and fuzzy positives out of the way, he and Jericho could “bury the company for the next two hours.”
He also confirmed that he knew he was leaving WWE all the way back in July 2018, nearly a full year before his contract actually came due.
“Even though I knew [I was leaving], I knew the whole time that I wasn’t going to quit. I wasn’t going to ask for my release, or try to get fired. I was just going to ride it out to the very end. I would just rather not do business like that if I don’t have to. My wife works there, and it would have been unfair to put her in a position of any awkwardness.”
“April 30th, the clock strikes midnight, I’m just free and I get all my royalties. If they’re gonna sell a Shield DVD in Cambodia two years from, I’m getting my 2.7 cents, you better believe that.”
Moxley then told a long story about a string of his worst days behind-the-scenes in WWE, which many fans will recognize as his critically panned feud with Seth Rollins after returning from injury late last year. The former SHIELD member recalls being frustrated by the promos he was forced into doing on each show, and talks about a particular incident he had trying to keep Vince McMahon from including a “pooper scooper” in the story.
“So I get to the arena and immediately a bunch of writers come up to me with a bunch of scripts. The thread throughout the show is that Seth will be challenging me to come out and fight, and I’d pop up on screen and cut a promo. I’ve got like six promos throughout the night, and at the very end we finally have a big fight in the ring. So it’s gonna be a long day. A lot of running around. Even pre-taped [promos]that should be 30 seconds can take 40 minutes.”
“They hand me these scripts, and to my eye, it’s a typical WWE script. A bunch of goofy words, and none of it makes any sense. We’re not telling any kind of tangible story, or doing anything to get any kind of characters over. Nothing makes any sense to me. Typical.”
“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 and I start reading this promo. Again, this is absolute hot garbage. Awful crap. You can’t make any sense of it. The main gist of it is that the people are smelling, disgusting people. You can just see Vince saying these words. I don’t know who wrote this, but if it’s you, be ashamed of yourself. It’s a bunch of crap about the people being smelly, and insulting the audience. It doesn’t make any sense, and it doesn’t get anything over. 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.’”
“So here’s how the creative process works in WWE. It doesn’t make sense, and I still don’t know how it works. So Vince is in a meeting, so we have to try to re-write it, send it into [Ed] Kosky, have it reprinted, and put it front of Vince without the pooper scooper line, because if he sees it he’s going to fall in love with it.”
“So he writes something along the lines of, ‘I wouldn’t come out here without a gas mask.’ We’ll worry about it later. Just get it in front of Vince without the pooper scooper line, because it’s too embarrassing. I can’t say that. So we get it in, cross our fingers that Vince sees our version and not the original version.”
“I’m exhausted from the insanity, and I’m going off to do the next promo that was in a hallway, with another writer. Again, it doesn’t make any sense. I don’t really know what I’m saying, or what points I’m making, or how I’m supposed to be getting any heat or telling a story. I told the writer, ‘You know, if we didn’t have to run around trying to make ourselves not look like idiots, we could actually sit down and tell a story. We’re all just in self-preservation mode trying to not look like idiots, instead of creating good things.’”
Photo Credit: James Musselwhite
Moxley was then given a letter by one of the writers containing “notes from VKM” which stated, among other things, that he needed to read the promos given to him “verbatim” instead of rewriting them. At that point, the insanity of the day apparently became a bit too much, as he lashed out at the writer.
“The writer, it’s not his fault, but I yelled at him. I was like, ‘Why do I work here? I’m a professional wrestler, who can tell stories and come up with promos. I believe that I have the ability to talk people in buildings, and I learned those skills years ago. You just want me to say your stupid lines. Hire an actor, because they’ll probably do a better job of it. I’m not interested in doing it.’”
In addition to his frustration over some of the “hot garbage” included in his promos, Moxley revealed that he was completely against the controversial segment where he brought up Roman Reigns’ battle with Leukemia, but it was Vince McMahon who convinced him otherwise.
“Earlier I had to go into Vince because in this promo, there was a very distasteful line taking a jab at my friend who had Leukemia, and is now going off to recover from that. Are you kidding me? This is clearly a mistake. Surely you don’t want me to say this. And he says, ‘Oh no, Roman’s part of the story, we gotta make sure he’s still included!’ And he says it in kind of an innocuous way where it kind of didn’t seem so bad. Basically he gave me the Vince Jedi Mind trick, which I’m pretty immune to at this point, but every once away he still gets me. I cut the promo, and as soon as the line left my mouth I went, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe I just said that.’ Not cool. Come on!”
Unfortunately for Moxley, his pooper scooper problems weren’t over quite yet…
“In the middle of all this, trying to get pooper scooper lines out of the scripts, I don’t even realize this horrible thing that I shouldn’t be saying. So I go back into the writer’s room – if you’re having trouble following all this, imagine what it’s like to be me. So I go back into the writer’s room, and success! We got our version of the promo in before the pooper schooler line!”
“Keep in mind, during all of this, this is a billion dollar company led by a man who is allegedly a genius. And keep in mind we’re all adults, and we’re talking about stuff like this.”
“Now I read the new promo, and this is written by Vince. It says, ‘Dean Ambrose enters wearing a surgical mask.’ Like a mask a doctor would wear to protect you from the ‘smelly, disgusting people’. I’m so embarrassed. Are you kidding me? He saw the gas mask. You gotta watch out for nouns, because Vince will turn a noun into a prop real quick. So now I’m wearing a surgical mask, and next week he wants me to come out with a gas mask, and next week a full hazmat suit.”
“I remember leaning on a road case feeling actual exhaustion. Emotional, physical, mental exhaustion – not so much of that day, but because of six years of this. Six years of having to go into this man’s office, this old man, and having to explain why wearing a surgeon’s mask is a stupid idea. Why carrying a little red wagon is a stupid idea. Why naming a mannequin in the ring is a stupid idea. I was just done.”
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