On May 25, 2019, at AEW’s inaugural Double Or Nothing show, Jon Moxley shocked the wrestling world when he appeared after the main event to attack both Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega. He oozed a confident swagger with calculated mannerisms that saw fans from all over the world in unison get behind his new, revamped character.
Moxley, in typical Moxley fashion, underwent two unsanctioned matches; one against Joey Janela and the other against Kenny Omega, which was a particularly ruthless match. With these two matches under his belt, Moxley entered his first main programme with Chris Jericho. With that being said, in this piece I am going to be reviewing how Jon Moxley got to being AEW World Champion, his main title defences thus far and how his reign has been going.
Jon Moxley vs Chris Jericho
In December 2019, after a short feud with Kenny Omega, Jon Moxley entered into a feud against Chris Jericho. This originally started with Le Champion wanting to recruit Moxley into The Inner Circle but after some teasing with the stable, Moxley declined which escalated into a feud between the two. The segment where Moxley agreed to join but then ultimately declined was done perfectly. They had the crowd chanting “You Sold Out” proving it did fool people and the roar of the crowd when Moxley attacked Jericho was immense.
In an attempt to delay an inevitable match, at Bash at the Beach, Chris Jericho and the rest of The Inner Circle beat down Moxley. Jericho then took a spike off of his jacket and proceeded to jab Moxley in the eye, rendering him temporality blind within the feud. This was a unique way to progress this storyline and established Moxley as a clear face. It made Moxley seem resilient and relentless as he never backed down even with only one good eye.
Now, wearing an eyepatch, Moxley went for payback. After several post-match brawls between the pair which led to countless five versus one situations, Moxley managed to get his own back when following a win over Ortiz, he managed to isolate Santana in the ring and using the keys of the Ford GT, he stole off of The Inner Circle, he managed to jab Santana in the eye. The one-eyed pair then had a match on a subsequent Dynamite episode which saw Moxley win.
To place the odds against Moxley just that little bit more, Jericho hired a “bounty-hunter” to practically run through Moxley before their match at Revolution. That bounty-hunter being Jeff Cobb. This was an amazing use of using talent from outside AEW to create a shock. No one had seen this coming. It also gave people the chance to be introduced to Jeff Cobb if they were not familiar with him beforehand. Moxley ended up beating Jeff Cobb but only just via a roll-up.
After teasing The Inner Circle, to having his eye injured, to injuring someone else’s eye, to defeating an outside star in Jeff Cobb, we were finally at the long-awaited matchup between the two. The pressure was on to deliver after an amazing build; they did not disappoint. After 22 minutes of hard-hitting action, a busted open Moxley had pulled the wool over Chris Jericho’s eyes. His eye had been fully healed this whole time and with that, it led to Moxley winning the AEW World Championship.
Everything about this feud was amazing. Two amazing wrestlers created an intriguing and compelling storyline that was only complimented by the match they had. The right man won and having Moxley as the champion was emotional and gratifying to see considering the year he had just had.
Jon Moxley vs Jake Hager
Following his title win at Revolution, Jon Moxley was put out of action, within kayfabe, following a powerbomb by Jake Hager. Though it seemed it was instigated by Chris Jericho, this was a smart move within the long term booking having Jake Hager perform the move.
This is because, on March 25th, Jon Moxley returned from injury to confront Jake Hager. This lead to a No Holds Barred Empty Arena match scheduled for April 15th. This was the first gimmick match that AEW did within the empty arenas.
The build to this match was swift and consisted of sit down interviews that put over Hager as a threat in terms of his wrestling and his MMA offence. Moxley was portrayed as the resilient, lunatic antihero of sorts that we have come to know and love. The hype for this match was furthered when Tony Khan tweeted “I believe this will be known as the best empty arena match ever”. Either a smart marketing ploy or a legitimate claim, it caught peoples attention and for me, it assured me that I should tune in live to watch.
The match, however, was a bit lacklustre for me. It was a slow match that didn’t necessarily utilise the stipulation to its maximum potential. The decisive ending too was a surprise following Hager’s strong build. However, in terms of Moxley’s title reign, it was a fantastic win to show he can take on all comers. He proved he can implement moves to adapt to his opponent’s style and showed that this resilient, relentless depiction is legitimate.
Jon Moxley vs Brodie Lee
After sharing the main event spotlight with one Goliath within Jake Hager, Moxley didn’t make it easier for himself as his next Goliath turned out to be, the newly debuted, Brodie Lee.
Brodie Lee could be seen decimating his opponents each week and after he beat Christopher Daniels, he was thrust into the title picture against Moxley. It was after Moxley had beaten Frankie Kazarian on Dynamite, that The Dark Order ran out and attacked the AEW World Champion. Brodie Lee, who too was attacking Moxley, demanded a title match. He claimed it was not that he hated Moxley but just that he wanted to possess the AEW World Championship. A battered, yet cocky Moxley, accepted the challenge. This proved and cemented Moxley as a fighting champion who will accept anyone’s challenge. He was an irrepressible and determined champion.
During the build-up, we saw Moxley break the arm of 10 who is one of Brodie Lee’s Dark Order compatriots and we also saw Brodie Lee steal the Championship off of Moxley. This wasn’t a heated, intense feud like he had with Jericho nor was it a flash in the pan build feud like with Hager. It was a unique build that saw Brodie Lee just wanting to do business by winning the Championship but saw Moxley get extremely heated due to the disappearance of his title. It was a different type of build but within the realms of this storyline it worked perfectly and it got me engaged into the feud.
We then had the match at Double or Nothing. It was technically the main event as it was the last in-ring match to air before the Stadium Stampede. This was an awesome match which did wonders for both Brodie Lee and Moxley. It exhibited some rough moves, such as the Paradigm shift through the stage. It showed Brodie Lee to be a very dominant persona within AEW who can hang amongst the top of the card. The ending was the best part of this match as it saw Moxley incapacitate Brodie Lee with a rear-naked chokehold.
This ending proved not only can Moxley win with his typical finisher but he can win with his MMA offence that we learnt about in the build to his Hager match. This cemented him as an all-rounder. He is a champion who can beat anyone, anyhow, anywhere.
Jon Moxley vs Brian Cage
His next title feud will see him go from one newly debuted behemoth to another. This time in the form of Brian Cage. This match will happen on tonight’s episode of AEW dubbed Fight for the Fallen.
It came about during May’s Double or Nothing PPV when during the Casino Ladder Match, Brian Cage debuted as the special entrant. He, in turn, won the match meaning he had the opportunity for a future AEW World Championship match, which Cage
and Taz pounced upon instantly. They were originally meant to main event night two of Fyter Fest but due to circumstances it was postponed and will now take place tonight.
During this build, we have seen both Moxley and Taz take their place at the commentary tables to commentate over there respective opposition’s match. It has been a nice touch in this build as it has subtly put over both stars in a less obvious manner. Especially in the way Moxley has subtly dropped recognition towards Cage’s skillset and prowess during matches, it has helped fans become familiar with Cage and everything he is about.
Furthermore, we saw a rather painful segment on Dynamite where Cage planted Moxley through the window of a car, despite the hesitation of Taz. Brian Cage, like Hager and Brodie Lee, has been built as this unconquerable beast pitting Moxley as the underdog in a sense. Moreover, this past week, on night two of Fyter Fest, we saw the reintroduction of past ECW belt, the FTW World Championship which now belongs to Cage. It adds more pressure for Moxley as now, despite not earning it, Cage is also a champion. It will give Cage that extra edge of momentum and confidence.
Editors Note: Jon Moxley successfully defended the AEW World Championship at AEW Fight for the Fallen. Results can be found here.
My thoughts on the Moxley era so far
Within AEW, Moxley has been booked perfectly. He was not rushed into the title picture and when he was he overcame one the greatest of all time, in Chris Jericho within an extremely well planned out and intriguing feud. He has since fought off all comers and showed levels of determination, grit and fight that are unrivalled in AEW’s men’s division.
He was shown how adaptive his move-set can be proving he is not just a fantastic character but a fantastic wrestler. I have loved every step of the way as even if there have been a few potholes on Moxley’s journey it has certainly been all positives for the most part.
I am excited to see what’s up on the horizon in Moxley’s future.