New York Comic Con 2019 saw the stars of All Elite Wrestling -- which dominated the ratings with its inaugural episode of Dynamite -- gathered for a roundtable, at which CBR was present, to discuss all things related to the show. At the event, CBR caught up with Jon Moxley about working for AEW and how it compares to World Wrestling Entertainment, as well as his reaction to DC Comics collaboration with his new outfit and his reaction to Dynamite.
The first question concerned Cody Rhodes' emotional letter, which was released prior to Dynamite's first episode. Rhodes expressed how AEW was -- and would -- listen to fans. In regards to that letter, Moxley said, "I think the guys who are, you know, really at the head of this from day one, and have been here since day one, I think they're really in tune with what their fans want. So I don't think that that issue's going to come up all that much."
He added, "You can't just give the fans everything they want. They want the good guy to win. But you can't just have a good guy win on day one. You can't have the season finale on the first day. You've got to have a long term plan in mind. But I think that we're really in tune with what fans want… they tell you whether they like something or not. If you have experience and you're good at this, you know whether it was good or not. Usually by time you get feedback, you know, like, oh, that missed the mark, or that sucks, or that ruled."
Moxley then addressed Dynamite, saying, "The 14,000 people in the building the other night told us whether or not they liked the show, because they were going nuts the whole time... So you can pick the show apart and say this and that... give your annual analysis or whatever. But all the people in the arena, were going nuts. So you know, as long as they continue to that, I think we're on the right track."
Although he was a prominent figure in the WWE, Moxley has expressed in the past that he was unhappy with his time there. However, the same doesn't hold true at AEW. "Right now, I'm not like playing any kind of character or anything. I didn't have some big plan, like I'm gonna do this new thing, I'm going to be the magician when I get out of there... I was in a bit of shell shock when I originally left. I had to kind of like work the rust off. It was like I'd been asleep for f*cking five years. It feels really good. Over there, I tried really hard to do it their way… I just went brain dead. Literally. It's crazy. It's almost literally like there was another person that just ceased to exist. And I made a little thing with a prison metaphor or whatever. But it almost was like a guy who got out of prison that we haven't seen him for seven years. You know, it was like, Nick Gage got out of jail. It was like, 'Oh, he's back. Where's he been?'... I feel like a new person. It's crazy."
Part of what Moxley is enjoying so much is his creative freedom at AEW. After describing his path as a collaborative effort with the higher-ups at AEW, Moxley revealed, "I think since I left the WWE I don't think I've been told no once by any promoter. It's usually like, 'whatever you want to do.' For instance, with [Joey Janela], I said to them... 'We'll do some cool, nice stuff.' And I thought we'd be somewhere in the middle of the card. Then I realized we're the main event. Once I really started learning more about Joey Janela, I realized that, for the deathmatch set, this is like a dream match. And now we're the main event and now I realize the expectations are so high. I said, 'You realize just by putting me and Joey's names together, you've created an expectation for some insanity. And anything less than absolute balls out is going to be a disappointment. And I'm not going to be in the business of disappointing fans anymore.'"
"I did that for years when I had to read these stupid scripts where’s it’s like ‘I’m going to eviscerate your skull in the Hell in a Cell,’" he continued. "And it’s like, No, I'm not. I know I'm not gonna. I know there's not gonna be any blood. I'm lying. I'm lying to the fans. I'm selling this violence that's not going to happen... The expectations are so high... I want to take it right to the level where they go, 'Oh, my God,' and they have to look away. And then like one step further, which is exactly what we did."
Moxley then explained that they continued to support him doing what he wanted to do, and that he believes he could have asked for anything short of a "chainsaw," and "they probably would have given [it to] me... I don't want to do that every night. Believe me, I do not want to do that every night. That was a special occasion. But I think it's just every conversation I've had where I'm like, 'yeah, this is how I see it.' It's like, 'cool. That's how you see it, then that's how you want your character to be.'
Moxley also talked about his recent absence due to needing surgery on his elbow for an infection. "The way I saw it this past week is like, I didn't make it to the fight in Chicago," he said. "Where I come from, you don't show up to the fight, you kind of forfeit your ability to talk shit. So I gotta sit back and let everybody run their mouth and call me damaged goods or say whatever. Say whatever you want about me not being at All Out or whatever. OK until I see you again. And I'm going to slap you in your f*cking mouth [slaps hand]. And then I'm going to drill your head through a frickin table and I'm gonna leave you laying and put you in the hospital and then maybe I'll talk a little crap about you now and see how it feels."
He continued, "So there was no need for words for instance, on Wednesday for me, I didn't feel like it was a night of action. And that's how I saw it. You know? That's how they saw it, too. So like almost like we're on the same page, you know, and I haven't had to shoot down any bad ideas from anybody. Which is great. Because you know, I used to go on TV, and it's like a start in a hole. Like how bad is it? God maybe if we can just make this crap passable, it'd be a victory, but everything so far is great."
"It's almost too good to be true," Moxley added of the experience. "But it's so simple. You got some of the most, no pun intended, elite wrestlers in the world. All guys who are veterans in their prime with huge fan bases, understand their fan bases. We know what's good and what's not like everything put together at Double or Nothing. We don't need writers or producers or anything like that... We're all actively choosing to do instead [of WWE]. Because we agree with all these lapsed fans. I was kind of a lapsed fan myself. I didn't even like wrestling anymore, and I was doing it! It's like we're stepping on our own to give you what you want, which hopefully we know. It's like the wrestlers taking control. But luckily it's a bunch of goddamn good wrestlers... I think it's the right guys in control. And ultimately, the fans will let us know if we're doing our jobs right."
Moxley was then asked about the possibility of having any more videos done by Nick Mondo in the future, and he confirmed that he now works at AEW, so that it seems likely they're currently working on a movie that he described as "the greatest action film of all time. You guys just don't know it yet."
The question then turned to DC Comics and the recent art by Ramon Villalobos centered on Moxley. "It's pretty cool," Moxley said. "I wish I looked that good in real life. Yeah, that was cool, especially because I always was like a DC guy... I've been immortalized amongst Batman and so forth... It's surreal, and you just get used to seeing surreal stuff... Like the first time you're on Monday Night RAW is surreal. First time you see yourself as an action figure, at least for me, it's like that's so weird. After awhile you just go, 'That's so weird. I can't even.' ... I've been drawn by the Simpsons writer so I was a Simpsons character, not in the show he just gave me a copy. And a DC guy so that's pretty cool.
Moxley then reacted to Dynamite and his experience of the first ever episode. "It was a great feeling, man. It really became this like team atmosphere. It was almost like on the sidelines at a football game, running players in and out, people coming in and out and watching the the end of the show play out and watching the clock ticking down… We're all like, 'We did it! We got two hours in the can. We got one! Nothing bad happened.' Because I was thinking all these nightmare scenarios in my head. Because it's live TV, anything can happen. And you got a bunch of people with no experience in live TV, so for it to go off as flawlessly as it did the very first one, it was like a celebration backstage. The energy was high, man, and that's addictive. Now I'm like, I can't wait to get to next Wednesday, and I can't wait to keep this momentum going.
AEW: Dynamite airs Wednesdays on TNT.