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Jon Moxley: Bryan Danielson is the best pure pro wrestler who’s ever lived

Whether you want to call it the last year of the American Dragon or the final countdown for Bryan Danielson, the former multi-time World Champion announced on AEW Collision this past Saturday, that his in-ring career is winding down. At least in a full-time capacity.

Since making the move to All Elite Wrestling a little over two years ago, Danielson has become someone that CEO Tony Khan can really lean on it tough situations — both on-screen and backstage. Not unlike his Blackpool Combat Club stablemate, Jon Moxley.

As I wrote about last week, Mox has been the rock that Khan has been able to stand upon during times of instability these past couple of years. A literal Johnny-on-the-spot.

After last year’s unfortunate backstage altercation at All Out, Moxley willingly called off some much deserved vacation time to come back and carry the AEW World Championship until it was time to put over the current reigning Champion, MJF.

This year, prior to All Out, Mox was once again thrust into a big spot. CM Punk’s sudden departure from AEW, made it impossible for Tony Khan to put on his scheduled main event match for the fine folks of Chicago.

In case of an emergency, break glass, and let Jon Moxley do his thing.

“If you’re gonna have any success in wrestling, it’s very rarely gonna go according to plan. You gotta be ready to take opportunity when it’s there. When things go awry and the wave changes direction, you gotta be able to surf on it and stay on your board.”

I had a chance to catch up with Jon Moxley ahead of AEW Dynamite tonight in his hometown of Cincinnati. An interview that originally ran during Cincy360 on the Queen City’s all sports radio station, ESPN1530.

His International Championship match against Orange Cassidy was not originally supposed to close All Out, but CM Punk’s absence put Mox right back into the main event. A spot that he not only finds extreme comfort in, but one where he says he truly excels. Simply because he’s had a lot practice over the years.

“Every big opportunity I’ve had, probably in my career, has come completely outta the blue and like, you gotta be ready to get your s—- together and strike when the iron is hot. And I think Orange Cassidy did that a hundred percent.”

Even though he didn’t retain his Championship that night, Mox had nothing but praise for the man they call Freshly Squeezed, for handling the pressure and turning oranges, into orange juice.

Mox says closing a major AEW PPV is not an easy task. He doesn’t even like to do a ton of prep work when he closes a show, because the energy of audience tells him what kind of match he needs to wrestle.

“When you come out at midnight, there’s a sense in the air that it’s midnight. It’s like an indescribable feeling in the air of, I know these people have been sitting here for a long time and if I come out here and start goofing around, they’re gonna be like, ‘I should go home and beat the traffic.’”

If Jon Moxley and Orange Cassidy had wrestled the first match at All Out, Mox guarantees it would have looked much different than what the audience saw Labor Day weekend. But having to follow a murder’s row of great wrestling performances, that included Kenny Omega vs. Konosuke Takeshita and what many believe to be the greatest Strap Match of all time, Moxley knew it was best to slowly build up the drama and the intensity in his match.

It was an extremely important spot and an invaluable learning experience for Orange Cassidy, who was closing a PPV for the first time ever.

“All of a sudden, everything is now up to you. You have to take the game winning shot. I’m very calm in that situation. If I can take somebody else along with me and let them experience hitting that game winning shot at the buzzer, kind of thing, so that they can take that skill and then go on and use it themselves for the betterment of the show and the fans or give that skill to somebody else, that’s a joy to be able to do.”

While Moxley was called upon to close out All Out for the third consecutive year, it was Bryan Danielson who was pulled off the bench to pinch hit for CM Punk. Taking his place against Ricky Starks in the aforementioned, highly praised, Strap Match.

During the All Out media scrum, Danielson gave all the credit to his opponent. Going as far to say that Starks carried him to the finish line, in a match that was filled with a lot of smoke and mirrors, by Bryan’s own admission.

And for good reason.

Danielson was returning to action about a month ahead of schedule after he suffered a clean break of his forearm during his match with Okada at Forbidden Door. The American Dragon wrestled the final 10 minutes of that match without the use of his right arm and was still able to apply a modified version of his patented LeBell Lock — using his feet to secure the shock submission victory.

It’s those types of performances that Jon Moxley hopes, people don’t take for granted.

“We’ve seen people be here one day and their careers are over the next. I could go out there and get choke slammed by Big Bill through the freaking ring and not get up. And you could never see me wrestle again,” Moxley said. “So anytime you get to see these greats wrestle, you should really stop and pause and think of how fortunate you are to be seeing this. You know, because once Michael Jordan retired, you [couldn’t] turn on the TV and watch [him] play basketball anymore. You get a chance to see Bryan Danielson wrestle on Dynamite, stop and pause and really enjoy it while it’s here, because you’re watching something really special.”

Jon Moxley says it’s be a very humbling experience to work with Danielson. The two of them started the Blackpool Combat Club back in February of 2022, and being able to pick his brain and bounce ideas off of him and been an immensely valuable asset.

Danielson has also filled a void in Moxley’s life ever since William Regal left AEW to return to WWE last year. Bryan has taken on the role of the harsh critic of the BCC. Pinpointing the tiniest of flaws and constantly searching for ways to make each member of the group that much better in the ring.

Jon Moxley doesn’t put much stock into the “Greatest of All Time” debates. Agreeing with my own assessment that pro wrestling is far too nuanced to even begin nailing down the best to ever lace up a pair of boots.

That said, Moxley says he has three guys that he puts on a pedestal above everyone else. First and foremost, the late great Terry Funk. Right next to him, Bryan Danielson.

“If you just picked him up and stuck him in any ring in the world, whether it be the parking lot of an auto parts store in Tijuana, or the Tokyo Dome, or the main event of WrestleMania, or AEW Dynamite... You put him in any ring, against any opponent, with no context what-so-ever and just ring the bell... Anybody watching he will suck into that match. And they’ll feel like they’re watching a real struggle and be just completely sucked into [that] match for the duration of it. Against anybody, anywhere, anytime. He is like the most perfect pure pro wrestler that I think has ever lived. I’ve taken a great deal of influence and inspiration from him, as I’m sure many pro wrestlers have.”

Danielson is set to trade in his passion for kicking people’s heads off on a regular basis, for his desire to spend more time with his daughter as she turns seven years-old, but will reportedly still be involved with AEW as a special attraction.

Regardless of how many matches he has left in him, Bryan has promised this next year will be epic, and he’s kicking it off with a battle of technical wrestling prowess when he takes on Zach Sabre Jr. at AEW WrestleDream in Seattle on October 1.

Just in case you were wondering by the way, the third man on Moxley’s list is another one of his colleagues. A man who you could call the Doc Brown of pro wrestling, Chris Jericho.

“He was in the nineties’ junior heavyweight scene, Super J-Cup and all that in New Japan. He was in WCW when it was cool. He was at ECW in the mid-nineties... when it was at its coolest. He was in WWF when it was like the most stacked as it’s ever been, like 2000 or so. And then through the whole Vince [McMahon] era of WWE, he was around and a player. He was in New Japan. when New Japan business all of a sudden kicked off really big. And now he’s here in AEW and you see him mixing it up with guys of all shapes and sizes and styles, right? So he’s got this like time traveling ability. Then other guys of his generation, you know, they had big runs that were like what, two or three years? Jericho’s going on like 20 something. When the story of Jericho is written at the end, it’s just gonna be ridiculous.”

You can catch both Jon Moxley and Chris Jericho on tonight’s episode of AEW Dynamite, live from Cincinnati, OH. Coverage starts at 8pm ET on TBS, and you can follow along right here at Cageside Seats.

Make sure to check out my full conversation with Jon Moxley in the video at the top of the page. Please make sure to give it a like and subscribe to the Bleav in Pro Wrestling YouTube channel for more great wrestling content coming in the near future.

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