As the hottest free agent in wrestling, Jon Moxley made a huge impact when debuting in AEW in 2019.
Having shortly before posted a video on Twitter hyping the resurrection of the grittier, more ruthless Jon Moxley character, he debuted at Double or Nothing – attacking a referee, Chris Jericho, and most memorably Kenny Omega.
This ultimately resulted in a feud between Omega and Moxley, which featured the former Dean Ambrose hitting a paradigm shift through a glass table on the first episode of Dynamite. This resulted in an unsanctioned lights-out match at Full Gear.
With this stipulation, the match felt more like a blood feud, with the use of extreme weaponry such as a barbed wire mop, a chain, and broken glass making this feel more real. In the end, Moxley managed to win, hitting NJPW’s ‘Cleaner’ with his elevated double-arm DDT on the exposed ring boards.
This win over an established name shot Moxley up the card, as within months, the beloved anti-hero had become AEW world champion by beating Chris Jericho. Moxley went on to be undefeated for nearly the year of 2020, fighting off-world title contender after another, including Darby Allin, Brodie Lee, Lance Archer, Jake Hager and MJF.
After being the undeniable star of AEW in 2020, it is likely Jon Moxley is set to take some time off after losing to Kenny Omega in an exploding barbed wire deathmatch at Revolution.
Shining Star Of The Pandemic Era
Moxley’s run on top of the company aided them in the ‘lockdown era’ of wrestling, working through what could have otherwise been a seriously damaging year due to the growth of the Covid-19 virus.
One of the more stand-out feuds during the former Shield member’s championship run was against Eddie Kingston.
A well-travelled veteran, the duo had fought many times before prior to reaching fame. As a pair of tough, hardcore brawlers, these independent stars had now risen to the heights of AEW – with Moxley at the top of the food chain. Kingston vied for Mox’s belt.
After a failed belt shot on an episode of Dynamite, the two had an emotionally-charged and intense ‘I quit’ match at Full Gear. This match was full of body-squirming spots and eventually ended with a sentimental Kingston having to admit defeat to Jon, who was choking out Eddie with barbed wire.
On that same show, Kenny Omega won an eliminator tournament in order to get a future shot at the AEW world title.
Omega followed this up on the Dynamite: Winter is Coming special on December 2nd 2020 by shockingly turning heel and prying the belt from Moxley’s hands due to aid from Don Callis.
Being busted open with a microphone and having been hit with a one-wingéd angel, Moxley was written off storyline TV, whilst Omega went on to announce the shock AEW/Impact Wrestling working relationship.
Return of The Mox
Moxley returned on the January 20th Dynamite, easily dispatching an enhancement talent. It was obvious that the only WWE and NJPW US titleholder was set on revenge – having his mindset on regaining the title belt.
Over the next few weeks, Moxley started to engage with some of Kenny’s allies such as Kenta and The Good Brothers (Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson). After an assault, Omega announced he would face Mox in an exploding barbed wire deathmatch, further cranking up the animosity of this feud.
This was a call-back to their first brutal lights-out match, this time with the roles reversed as Kenny was the heel whilst Mox was the valiant face.
The Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch
Taking inspiration from the famous match in Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (FMW), this new breed of talent reintroduced the stipulation popularised by hardcore icons such as Terry Funk, Atsushi Onita and Cactus Jack.
The set-up of this was with barbed wire coiled around the ropes – contrary to the previous ‘spider web’ or stranded barbed wire without ropes format. The referee was also put in a protective suit – not only keeping the officiator safe but adding a dimension of true danger to the match.
When the match started, there was a lot of teased violence, but no explosions until Omega threw powder in Mox’s face and threw him against the ropes, which promptly exploded. Omega worked over Jon with objects for a long period before Moxley used a barbed wire steel chair on Omega’s leg, Kenny was afterwards able to move out of the way, allowing Moxley to crash through a barbed wire board.
The former Ambrose followed this up by knocking ‘The Cleaner’ into the exploding ropes multiple time before putting him through another barbed wire board. Moxley side slammed Kenny on a wire-wrapped chair before tangling his arm in wire before hitting a lariat.
The former AEW world champion then hit the current titleholder with a huge paradigm shift off the apron onto a barbed wire board on the outside; Omega eventually hit the one-wingéd angel, but Moxley kicked a rope, exploding it in KO’s face before the 3. With aid from the Good Brothers, Omega won, winning after hitting Mox with an exploding barbed wire bat and one-wingéd angel through a chair.
In the aftermath, the ex-Bullet Club members assault Moxley, before handcuffing him and further using weapons on Jon. The timer suddenly appeared on the titantron, signalling the time until the largest bomb would explode.
With Moxley defenceless in the ring, long-time friend and foe Eddie Kingston ran out to try and save his colleague. A surprisingly sweet visual, a caring Kingston was ready to take the fall with Moxley in a signal of their brotherhood.
Now – it is the elephant in the room that the final explosion pyro was horribly botched. However, will this impact what is next in store for Moxley, as both men sold the spot, but will AEW find another way to do a similar angle in order to get Moxley off TV?
On the November 18 2020 edition of Dynamite, the then-world champion Moxley gave a throwaway line in a promo of “I’ve got a pregnant wife at home”. Soon afterwards, wife Renee Paquette confirmed the news on her Instagram, soon after posting a photo of her and her baby bump.
She also explained that she originally accidentally a message about her test – intended for Moxley – to WWE star Bayley. It was later revealed to be a girl.
It always seemed likely Moxley would drop his championship before taking some time off in early 2021 to be with his wife as she was giving birth. The explosion angle likely would have been the way that Mox was written off TV. However, the backlash over the botched PPV ending led to AEW having to re-explain the spot.
On the next Dynamite, Mox appeared in a backstage segment with Eddie Kingston, before later running out to make a save. All parties involved mocked the blown bomb – jokingly stating it was made by ACME supplies, Don Callis and Omega faking an explosion and saying the bomb was made by Impact.
Overall, Moxley is likely taking time off in order to recover from the wear of the last year and a half for AEW, as well as to be with his wife when in labour. After a near-year long run as AEW champion, it seems as if Moxley is taking some time away from wrestling for a few months, before his return (hopefully in front of fans). We can only wait to see what takes place in the absence of one of All Elite Wrestling’s biggest names.