It’s unorthodox, but I’d like to begin this feature a little differently than normal. It’s almost fitting in a way because the subject of my ramblings today is as lovingly unorthodox as they come. Since the day Jon Moxley sauntered through the crowd at Double or Nothing in 2019, he has arguably been the heartbeat of All Elite Wrestling. The turmoil surrounding AEW recently is no secret, but I believe the still young company will walk through the roaring flames in a better place then ever. Eventually. Why? Because Jon Moxley has faced worse, much worse, and he’s leading the charge. By example. Let’s examine why…
“This is ground zero. This is my site. I can still fix this.”
The above words are uttered by Robert Neville in the blockbuster movie I Am Legend. If you haven’t seen it, or read the 1954 novel authored by Richard Matheson, the plot centers around a man attempting to cure a virus that has effectively wiped-out humanity, infecting nearly everyone and transforming those it doesn’t kill into vampire/zombie hybrid monsters. At its core though, it is not a movie about monsters. It is instead a movie about redemption. About hope. About love.
The subject matter is still frightening, don’t get me wrong. As someone who scares easily, its not one I’ll ever be clamoring for again anytime soon, but the story offers beautiful insight into the human condition under incredible duress. It may seem a stretch to relate this to the current happenings in All Elite Wrestling and in the obvious ways, it is, but if you’ll humor me for a few minutes perhaps I can show you why the two relate.
AEW appears as though they are at a crossroads. It shouldn’t necessarily come as much of a surprise, as they’ve seemingly been on a collision course with themselves for some time for many reasons. Growing pains are not uncommon for new ventures to navigate, but you could easily assume that these recent events are not simply that. What occurred after All Out was a disaster. How it’s handled could go a long way in defining how this company attacks the next phase of their growth, which includes a new television deal – of which the importance of cannot be overstated.
I don’t need to go into detail on the post-show scrum fiasco and the physical scuffle that occurred after in the backstage area. At this point, we’ve all heard enough about both situations to last a lifetime. What can be said though is that there may not be a more polarizing story in wrestling in recent memory. The company that exists now, in many ways, doesn’t resemble the company that launched to much acclaim and joy in 2019. That’s not always a bad thing and it’s certainly not uncommon, but for many fans, it’s a glaring issue that cannot be ignored.
It's a personal opinion on when things began to shift, so I won’t get into any of that, but what we’re left with now is a tricky aftermath to both weather and move on from. I don’t believe All Elite Wrestling is sick. I don’t think the situation is one that cannot be overcome. You can’t do away with what has already happened, as much as they may want to, but you CAN control what happens next. That is their choice, and if the first few shows after All Out were any indication, they’re choosing stability. By giving the ball to those who have always operated with the best interests of the company at heart, the future seems not just safe but exciting as well.
So, that’s the backstory, in all the glory I’m willing to give it any longer. What role does Jon Moxley play in what comes next?
It’s simple really. He plays THE role. The lead. The hero. Both the company man and man of the people. He can do it all because he’s been it all. When AEW was but an itty-bitty baby, Mox sauntered in – as Mox does – and propped that company up and showed it how to walk. He wasn’t alone, mind you, but he was present and willing.
When the pandemic hit and the literal world was more than a little lost and uncertain, All Elite Wrestling was led forward by a champion who could shoulder an unthinkable weight – leading a company as world champion with no live fans to think of. He did his job with dignity and grace, and he LED as AEW gave us a weekly escape from the madness that seemed and sometimes still seems never-ending.
And now, facing yet another period of uncertainty under conditions less than ideal, AEW is forced to turn away from plans made and toss the ball into the hands of someone who may lead them out of the flames and into the valley. Even if Bryan Danielson happens to prevail on Wednesday at Grand Slam, there can be no arguing that the ball was given to Jon Moxley.
His speech after All Out was the rallying cry the company needed. It was the message to everyone backstage that everything would be alright. It was a statement to all of us fans – from his impassioned eyes to ours – that AEW wasn’t just one man. It wasn’t just a handful of them. It was everyone – all of us – every man, woman, child, employee, fan, and more. It was everyone who loved this business, and with him present, it always would be. His words left me teary eyed and full of hope.
You could make the argument that a few people could represent AEW’s heart. The Elite. Adam Page. Cody (at one time). I take no exception to any of that. But if you deny that Jon Moxley is the heart of All Elite Wrestling, I dare you to deny that he’s the company’s soul. What burns within him is something that you cannot teach or earn. It’s in you or it isn’t. You don’t have to search far for examples. He embodies them.
Here we are, two weeks post All Out. That night and the immediate days after, it felt as though we might be walking under AEW’s falling ashes, and in some ways we were. It was perhaps AEW’s peak of uncertainty.
Robert Neville claimed that “nothing happened the way it was supposed to happen.” Perhaps not. Perhaps so. It doesn’t matter really. The past is settled. The future is not. He took control of what he could and set forth to make the future a better one – even if it wasn’t necessarily going to be so for him. That takes heart. That takes soul. That takes GUTS.
That is Jon Moxley.
He’s perhaps not the prince that was promised. He’s not the king we clamored for. He didn’t sell out the United Center or help create an Elite empire from scratch.
Those things don’t make legends. Winning titles doesn’t go hand in hand with it either. I understand why it must be framed as such on television; I do. Jon Moxley is a legend for what he stands for and the passion for this thing of ours that burns eternally in his heart of hearts. You cannot convince me otherwise.
We may not have chosen him. But he sure as all hell chose us.
That is legendary.