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Jon Moxley: The Story of the Man Behind Dean Ambrose

Capitalization is a key element in media. It’s what keeps the proverbial and occasionally the literal ball rolling. Media outlets arrive on the scene of a murder to get you the latest scoop to feed your quench for information, with this I am going to capitalize on a topic I’ve desired to speak on since the early days of his signing, the man so many are enamored by, the one you call Dean Ambrose.

If you’re not familiar with that name you may just stand alone, because apparently Mister Ambrose is the new savior of wrestling, the new heir apparent to whatever throne is left unoccupied, a sure-fired future WWE Champion, a guaranteed Wrestlemania headliner, hell why stop there? Dean Ambrose is a sure-fired Hall of Famer if you care for the opinion of some.

But this editorial isn’t going to detail the man you know today, instead the man you probably know little about. See before joining the boys down in Florida to “develop,” where WWE officials felt necessary, Jon Moxley was a regular feature on the American independent wrestling circuit. Like Bryan Danielson, CM Punk, Samoa Joe, Austin Aries; wait, he was nothing like them.

Jon Moxley was a very different creature to the common independent talents of years gone-by or today. It wasn’t about having an arsenal of fifty moves, forty-five of which involved a cool flip or kick. Jon Moxley wasn’t going to headline any chain wrestling promotions any day soon either. Instead he made his name off his character, his style, his look; they all had an aura of “grunge” about them.

You’ll have heard a lot about him, I’m sure.

How many of you know much about him? My introduction to the guy promoters used to market as “Street Dog” was on a show featuring the tag team of him and Sami Callihan, fighting under the name “Switchblade Conspiracy,” sounds cool, doesn’t it?

Two scruffy guys, snarling and staring, menacingly taunting their opponents, Combat Zone Wrestling and violence go hand-in-hand, I can recollect Moxley holding a metal spike in his hand, tearing it across his opponents face, raising it into the air allowing the blood to drip freely onto his face; this is a pretty quick way of getting noticed.

The bigger Jon’s name got the more of his matches appeared on the Internet. I viewed several, some featured his body being pierced by ten thousand thumbtacks (ironically by a guy named Tack), scratched and sliced by the sharp edges of barbed wire, burnt and seared by the warmth of a lit match to lighter fluid which sat atop a wooden table.

My fix of Jon Moxley would soon intensify, through the medium of Dragon Gate USA.

Gabe Sapolsky saw something marketable and special in Jon many didn’t. He was paired off with the likes of Tommy Dreamer, Homicide, Jimmy Jacobs and during his release from WWE, a certain Bryan Danielson.

During this time the former CZW World Heavyweight Champion was given leverage to showcase his wrestling ability, and he was by no means bad.

His character drew people in, his promos caught the attention of viewers and left them wanting more. Jon never main evented where it mattered but he probably didn’t need to. His feud with independent veteran and Ring of Honor stalwart Jimmy Jacobs is to some the defining feud of Jon’s indie tenure, it is to him as Joe was to Punk, or McGuinness was to Danielson.

He knew how to control a crowd, bend and twist a match into any atmosphere he pleased. In an interview with InYourHead radio dated November 13th, 2010, Jon stated on his feud with Jacobs:

“Before Dragon Gate we’d yet to face each other, but it felt like I’d worked with him a million times. We wanted our second match to be much more psychological instead of senseless gore. We took a physical approach and tried to leave the toys where they be.”

As aforementioned his most hyped characteristic is his speaking ability. Its always been humorous to me that so many find it so good, by simply exclaiming “Nope,” it’s as though a majority of the Internet Wrestling Community as one entity creamed in their pants.

It always wasn’t like that. Jon Moxley didn’t have that inside him. There was a time when he had long ass-length hair, colorful spandex tights, a chain around his neck; had you seen him you’d have mistaken him for a Major Brother or an imitation of Chris Jericho. But somewhere along the line he obviously changed. Simply put, Jon decided to be himself.

“I didn’t have a grasp on what I was. I’d walk out, wrestle, walk back and leave. One day I decided to start being me. It didn’t feel… not as forced. I started to like it. I like expressing actual emotions instead of playing a character everybody else can play. Because I’m different.”

“I hesitated to address my real life story because I think when something is said in wrestling, it’s assumed to be fake. What people don’t get with me is, they don’t know what’s real and what’s not.”

It’s something very few will understand, but it didn’t take until the last couple years of his independent run to find who he was as a performer.

All good things have to come to an end, and today before you on television, Jon Moxley stands as Dean Ambrose, a character who still bears that aura of grunge that Moxley walked with but in a much more restricted boundary.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I’ve seen multiple people who legitimately followed him on his way up label him a “sell-out” to his roots.

But for every fan he used to have, it seems hes replaced with fifty others. They may be younger, more naive, less knowing on who he is but I guess that’s not a bad thing, is it? Well, when you have a few hundred people on the Internet claiming they know so very much about him, to a degree it’s a fifty-fifty situation, now isn’t it?

The Jon Moxley story of bloody brawls in “bingo halls” may have ended, but as The Shield continues its lamentation as regulars on WWE programming, the Dean Ambrose story of injustice may have just begun.


About Jason Patrick

Jason Patrick is an Irish writer and journalism student, he is the brain behind bringing Ring of Honor content to Wrestle Enigma and is an avid fan of the promotion, as well as others such as WWE, NJPW and some independent promotions. You can follow him on Twitter @JasonPatrickWE