It was big news recently that Jon Moxley signed a brand new five year deal with All Elite Wrestling. It was in 2019 that he first signed with the company, going back to his Indy Wrestling name, Jon Moxley. But before that time, he had quite the run in WWE; his greatest storyline there was as a member of The Shield alongside two very prominent roster members still in WWE. Why did he leave? Today we’ll be looking at just why.
His early independent run
His pro wrestling journey started in 2004. It was under Les Thatcher that he trained. He worked at Thatcher’s Heartland Wrestling Association from 2004 and continued making appearances for that promotion well into 2011. A run at multiple Indy promotions would follow from 2006 until 2011.
Hitting the big time
WWE is known as the big time in professional wrestling (or at least until the inception of AEW), and it was after only 7 years on the independents that he would be granted a chance at the company that at the time, was the only major player in town.
Like so many of his generation—some of which are still in WWE: Sheamus, Drew McIntyre, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, etc.—he started at FCW, which after Ohio Valley Wrestling and before NXT, was a developmental territory for WWE. A farm league if you will.
Interestingly enough, it was also at FCW that Ambrose would have a run-in and subsequent match with a visiting member of the main roster…CM Punk. Punk would win that match and would leave the developmental platform of WWE, but not without first showering the young Mr. Moxley with heavy praise. He was indeed impressed.
Also at FCW, he had run-ins with William Regal and even went as far as to challenge the legend that is Mick Foley…calling him out on what was a then viral video…viral because it looked real, Ambrose accosting the hardcore legend at some sort of event, and stating that Foley needed to make up for the youth he tarnished with his hardcore style.
It wasn’t real of course, and was a glorious work, but what a work it was. Sadly it never went anywhere, but it put people on notice, and what happened next in his career would take him to heights earlier than most….
WWE’s main roster—The SHIELD debuts
One of the greater factions of the modern era of professional wrestling, many would say. These three men were exceptional together and worked well as a team and all because they were so different from each other; each one of them played his part and played it well…Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and of course Ambrose himself.
It was as this faction that Ambrose would debut, and the three of them would debut together naturally. They made quite the statement: A triple power bomb to none other than Ryback. Here, Ambrose and Punk had yet another brush along their respective timelines; it was that power bomb that would allow CM Punk to win the match he was having at the time, pinning John Cena.
The Shield was a dominant group of men and one that will be remembered by many of their fans and even their detractors.
A Solo run in WWE
His solo run would result in championships yes, but his ‘lunatic fringe’ gimmick didn’t do him or his potential justice. After Seth Rollins betrayed the other two members, Moxley was kind of fizzled out of the big picture in essence. Some wouldn’t agree, but the focus was primarily on the other two.
Again, Ambrose did have championship runs and decent storylines, but not at all the best or perhaps ones he could have definitely handled. He did the best he could with what he was given, but ultimately this run would lead to frustration.
Exit from WWE—the birth of an Elite Icon
He would leave WWE yes, and before we get to the specific reasons why, let’s state that he did sign on with AEW just recently and for an additional five years.
He is a dedicated member of the roster. He, Jericho, MJF, and Bryan Danielson, among many others, stayed the course while many that were prospected to have great runs when signed faltered; he is a rock, for lack of a better term, and one Tony Khan has awarded with yet another reign at the title.
Of course when he signed on with AEW, he signed on and started going by Jon Moxley. His debut and initial run was something many pro wrestling fans got excited about, and they’re all enjoying his run with the company and obviously so is he.
Why did he leave WWE?
He can answer that best. Here are some comments Moxley made while speaking to Chris Jericho on Talk Is Jericho back in 2019.
“Whether AEW exists or not, I was still leaving WWE. It was good to know the wrestling business was doing so well outside of WWE, but even if it wasn’t, I still would have left. If there was no other promotions to work for in the world, I still would have left WWE. If there were no other wrestlers, I would have just started my own promotion, started my own training school and trained my own opponents…
I would have re-seeded the wrestling business from scratch if I had to. But the timing of it is just so crazy…If there’s one thing I want to do…I want to prove that your creative process – the WWE’s creative process, sucks…It does not work. It’s absolutely terrible. … It’s killing the company and I think Vince is the problem. Not so much Vince, but Vince and whatever structure he started building around himself…
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 to hook you into our story. It’s me trying to not look like an idiot. Me trying to appease all these people. Me sitting down with a writer, that’s not how it’s supposed to be.”via ESPN
So there you have it folks…and from the horse’s mouth, as the expression goes, and he is a horse, a workhorse that is. That creative ceiling in WWE that I’ve often talked about. Now Triple H is head of creative, but after seeing a few recent episodes of WWE programming, there is still a bit of an issue with creative; not all has been resolved and apparently Moxley saw that as well, hence his re-signing with the company that has quite evidently treated him well so far, and has known how to book him perfectly.