Jon Moxley, f.k.a. Dean Ambrose, appeared on Chris Jericho’s podcast, Talk Is Jericho, which dropped today. The episode was recorded a couple of days before Double Or Nothing.
Moxley said that “it was time to talk, finally.” He said that he has been quiet the last few months, even though WWE had sent out press releases and mentioned on commentary that he was leaving. Moxley brought up that his only real comment about leaving was during The Shield’s interview with Michael Cole last month, and that was because he felt like he was being set up with them saying he couldn’t hack it in WWE so he would be going to the minor leagues.
Moxley noted that he’s never been happier and that the weight of the world has been lifted off of his shoulders. He said that he has nothing but gratitude for WWE, and that WWE changed his life. He said he grew as a person there and learned a lot of life skills, adding that he got a chance to be a part of great causes like Make A Wish. Moxley also noted that he met his wife, Renee Young, in WWE and that the last eight years could not have been more successful.
“With that out of the way, let’s just bury the company,” Moxley joked.
Moxley knew he wanted to leave the company in July 2018 when he was out with a triceps injury. He was supposed to be out for four months but it turned into nine months because of all the complications. Moxley said he did not want to walk out of the company at the time, partly because his wife works there and he would get all of his royalties if he waited until his contract expired on April 30th.
Moxley recalled once getting a scripted promo about him describing the things that he did getting to the arena that day. He said that they weren’t things that a cool or relatable person does, but things that an idiot would do like driving backwards on a street or eating pizza with a homeless person. Moxley refused to do the promo and asked for it to be rewritten. Vince McMahon re-did the promo but put all of that material back in. Moxley met with Vince, who thought that “it was such good sh-t” and that it was why people liked him. Moxley replied, “So I’m an idiot?” McMahon laughed and replied, “No, that’s you! You’re different!”
He went on to recall the day when he started to count down the number of days that he had left. Moxley was back from injury last fall working as a heel against Seth Rollins, and as soon as he got to TV, several writers approached him with scripts. The theme was that Rollins would be calling him out into the ring throughout the night and that he would have various promos on the screen before leading to a fight at the end of the show. He knew it was going to be a long day with the various promos, noting that pre-tapes can take up to 40 minutes.
“They hand me these scripts,” Moxley recapped. “To my eye, it’s typical WWE script. They’re 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 trying to tell any tangible story or do anything to get any kind of characters over. Nothing that makes any sense to me. So, typical.”
Moxley said the promo he was most concerned was at the end of the show in the ring, which he felt was “absolute hot garbage off of a crap.” The gist was that the people were smelly and foul, and Moxley could see Vince enjoying it. The thing that caught his eye the most was a comment about a “pooper scooper.” Moxley said he wasn’t going to say that. There was a process they had to go through to get it changed but without having Vince see it because Vince would love the “pooper scooper” line. One of the writers tried to get it changed to be more about needing a gas mask because the town was disgusting. Moxley told a writer that it would be much better if they were trying to tell a story instead of saying stupid things. Later that evening he got “notes from VKM”, who said that “Dean needs to understand why he’s insulting the audience” and read the promo verbatim and not try to re-write them.
“Why do I work here?” Moxley exclaimed to the writer. “I’m a professional wrestler who can tell stories and come up with promos. I believe I have the capability to talk people into buildings, I believe that I developed those skills years ago and wanted to bring them here to WWE and you just want me to say your stupid lines. If you want somebody to read your stupid lines, hire an actor because they’d probably do a better job. I’m not interested in doing in.”
He’s still hoping that his version of the promo got through before the “pooper scooper” promo. He said that one of the promos that day had a distasteful remark about his friend, Roman Reigns, who was recovering from leukemia. Moxley said that he thought it was a mistake and the writers pushed him to say it. Moxley went ahead and said the promo and regretted it as soon as he said that line. Moxley went back into the writers room and they were able to get their version of the promo in before the “pooper scooper” got to Vince.
“Bear in mind that this is a billion dollar company, run by a man who’s allegedly a genius,” Moxley said. “And keep in mind that we’re all adults and we’re talking about stuff like this.”
The new promo was written by Vince which had Moxley in a surgical mask, followed by a gas mask the following week and a full hazmat suit the week after. Moxley went into Vince again and felt exhausted, not just about that day, but the six years of explaining to an “old man” why the material was bad. They came to a compromise where Moxley wore a handkerchief instead. Moxley said he had no creative license and was just doing terrible crap. Moxley took off right after the show, had a drink and recalled what a waste of time the ordeal was.
Moxley rejected the notion that talent today are afraid to go off-script or get fired. He said that he’s never been afraid to get fired and always goes in and gives his opinion. He said that he tries to convince the company that his ideas are better, but if he can’t, then he goes with what’s scripted because they sign his paychecks and he tries to make it the best he can.
Moxley then discussed the day when he knew 100% that he was gone from the company. He said he thought about walking out, but he didn’t. This was the angle where he got shots and vaccinated during a backstage promo. He got to the arena and was staring at the promo seething during a sexual harassment meeting that the talent needed to attend. After the meeting, Vince wanted to meet with him over the promo because he wanted to make sure that it wasn’t played for comedy. Vince met with Moxley and said that the promo was so well written and will get him a ton of heat. Moxley said that he will do whatever he can to make it good, and felt that it would be the last time that he would say it again. Vince loved the segment.
Moxley noted that day that he felt that he could not work there. He left for the airport feeling depressed.
“This promo also had a line about my actual friend who’s going through leukemia that Vince wanted me to say, that he tried to talk me into saying,” Moxley stated. “This is where I absolutely drew the line. I said, ‘absolutely not.'”
Moxley said that Vince tried to talk him into saying the line a little bit, but he absolutely would not.
“It is the worst line,” Moxley revealed. “I’m not going to say it on the air, I’ll tell you after we’re done. It would have been like a thing where someone would had to get fired, maybe me. They might have like lost sponsors, like the Susan G. Komen and all of that.
“I don’t know who wrote it, I don’t know if it was Vince himself. If it was a writer and he’s listening right not, ‘you should be ashamed of yourself.’ You wouldn’t believe it!”
Moxley said that he would have left WWE even if there were no other options.
Moxley also spoke in depth about the problems with the creative process in WWE.
One of the major creative hurdles with the company is their over-scripting of promos. Moxley noted that promos used to be one of his favorite aspects of pro wrestling, but he was dreading them by the time he left the company.
“They take wrestling away from you,” Moxley said. “Wrestling is my first love and my only love besides my wife. It’s the thing I’m most passionate about, I love it. I feel like I got it back finally. Since I was a little kid, I was always watching tapes, always thinking of promos. I wanted to watch all the wrestling, I loved pacing around the house thinking of promos, waking up in the middle of the night and just thinking of a cool line or a way to tell the story of a match.
“Promos used to be my favorite part of wrestling. I loved it! They ended up becoming my least favorite part, the part I dread. Because now it’s not me coming up with ideas and coming up with ways for me to hook you into our story, it means me trying not to look like an idiot… Sitting down with a writer, that is not how it is supposed to be!”
During the interview, Moxley discussed his return to WWE last summer from injury. He said that he was motivated to return and was working out profusely, even though he felt “shackled” creatively at the time. He said that he was thinking of ideas for his return, only to realize that the company wouldn’t go for it.
“I was so excited to come back to wrestling, but I was not excited to come back to WWE,” Moxley said. “I was picturing myself in other places, I was picturing myself coming back to like CZW. I was picturing myself in Japan. Anywhere but WWE.
“My particular type of charisma, Vince [McMahon] just can’t just let me be. He’s got to put a hat on me or put me in a goofy vehicle. For whatever reason, me and Vince are like Mentos and Diet Coke together, we just create this explosion of goofy nonsense that I detest.”
Moxley flew to Stamford, Connecticut to meet with Vince about his return. He had said that he wanted to come back as a heel to change his character because he hated it. He looked at the return as an opportunity to reinvent himself. He met with Vince again later to discuss his return as it was getting closer about, but was told that The Shield was already advertised for a show in Australia in October so there’s no way that he’ll be a heel before that. He was also told that he would basically be returning as Seth Rollins’ partner, which he loves doing, but it was more of the same.
“Basically their idea of me coming back was exactly what everybody expected,” Moxley said. “No shock, nothing different, just good ol’ Lunatic Fringe. That’s it.”
WWE wanted Moxley to return the week before SummerSlam, but Moxley convinced them to have it be at the pay-per-view. Moxley said he was deflated with how he’d return, but he continued to train hard and then got a call that it would be the week before SummerSlam, as they originally discussed. Moxley also mentioned Rollins’ promo introducing him back where he told Dolph Ziggler that if Ziggler’s going to have a “Scottish Psychopath” in his corner, then he’ll have a lunatic in his. Moxley felt that the verbiage cheapened the original pop as opposed to if they would have just hit his music.
“It’s a small example of they ruin everything!” Moxley exclaimed. “How do you screw that up? Hit the button, play the music! It’s like they have to get their hands in it, they have to justify their jobs or something. It’s a great example of overproducing everything.”
Moxley said that he was leaving WWE regardless of what other companies were out there. He said that he would have left even if there were no other promotions in existence.
When it was time to renew his contract, Moxley said that he was “relishing the opportunity” to say that he wasn’t interested. When he finally was told over Royal Rumble weekend this past January that he would be presented the new contract that Monday at RAW, Moxley said that he couldn’t hold it in anymore and exclaimed that he’s gone as soon as his contract expires. He said he wouldn’t change his mind, it was something he thought about for a long time, it wasn’t an emotional decision, but he was done.
Moxley talked about WWE issuing a press release after rumors of his departure started, which was unprecedented. Moxley doesn’t know why it was sent, other than Vince probably wanted to control the narrative.
“[Vince] has got the Million Dollar Man complex,” Moxley stated. “That’s why he pays Brock [Lesnar] billions of dollars to come in and ruin his company. Because he wants to own Brock. He wants to be like, ‘Brock’s my attraction!’ A guy he has no power over (me), he doesn’t know how to handle it.”
Moxley revealed that he never looked at his new contract when it was offered. Moxley said he felt something akin to a physical depression during his time, because the company “takes away something that you love.” He said that they take away the talents promos because they have writers, they can’t come up with cool things in matches because of the producers and they can’t come up with intriguing storylines because of the writers.
Moxley said that there would be days where he would just lay in bed because he’d be dreading the conversations with the writers. He said that once his departure became real, he feels like a new person. He added that he’s excited with his opportunities with AEW and plans to prove that the WWE creative process is wrong.
“I want to prove that [WWE’s] creative process sucks,” Moxley stated. “It does not work, it’s absolutely terrible. I’ve said that to Vince, I’ve said that to Hunter, I’ve said that Michael Hayes. I can’t even tell you how their system works, it’s some kind of system of meetings that take place in Stamford, then there’s a home team. There’s writers and producers and production meetings and nobody knows what’s approved and what’s not.
“The bureaucratic red tape that you have to go through to get anything approved is crazy! It doesn’t work! It’s killing the company and I think Vince is the problem. And not so much Vince, but whatever the structure that he built around himself probably starting around 2002 after the sale of WCW and this infrastructure of writers, producers and this is what the WWE is and what the product is, and the product sucks. [They have] great talent, amazing talent. None of this is their fault.
“If I had a goal with AEW, that’s that if we can prove that Vince’s way sucks. That’s not what I’m going to focus on, because it’s not about competing with WWE. We’re just going to be over here doing our best and putting on our best product. If a byproduct of that is that it pushes WWE to re-evaluate their creative process and it makes Vince – not that he’s going to step aside because we all know that he’s going to die in the chair – but maybe he’ll listen to someone else’s ideas. Maybe he’ll be open to doing it a different way.”
You can listen to the full podcast at this link HERE.