Now that we have more than four hours of the former Dean Ambrose airing his grievances about his time in WWE and his issues with their creative process, there’s not much new or surprising to pull from his interviews with Chris Jericho, Las Vegas radio, or Wade Keller.
But on the second part of his chat with the Pro Wrestling Torch editor for his Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast, Jon Moxley breaks down the story behind his underwhelming WrestleMania 32 feud with Brock Lesnar. Mox was surprisingly open about his issues with Lesnar and their 2016 match in Arlington, Texas’ AT&T Stadium during his controversial visit to The Stone Cold Podcast a few months after it happened. But since that was for WWE while he was still under contract to WWE, he didn’t go into much detail.
Now free of any obligation to his former paymasters, he broke it down in detail for Keller:
“By the time we got to WrestleMania, the angle wasn’t hot anymore. I got that match because we did a three-way thing for the #1 contender with me, Roman and Brock that actually turned out awesome. And there was a promo for it, and I kinda took it upon myself to be like, ‘I’m gonna get up in Brock’s face. What’s the worst that could happen?’ So I got all up in Brock’s face and I’m trying to portray to him that like, ‘Yeah, you might be the suplex machine guy, but I might stab you. I might stick a pencil in your eye. I bring a different dynamic as an opponent. You’re obviously physically a much different thing than me, but I might stab you’ kind of vibe. So I’m up in his face, whatever, and there’s electricity. The people are like ‘Whoo, this is interesting.’ I’m doing that all on my own. This isn’t scripted, right? But it got over, and there was electricity between us.
So now people want to see me and Brock, ’cause I was supposed to work with [Chris] Jericho and Bray [Wyatt] was supposed to work with Brock. They’d already started the angle. And then me and Brock did the thing. We did a three-way, we did some cool stuff, there was like a vibe between us. So now we’re gonna go with me and Brock. So I was like, I earned this match on my own merits. Me doing my thing, my way made it to where like people wanted to see this match. So now I’ve earned the match. So now I’m like, ‘Yeah!’ This is like, my dream opponent, dream scenario, Street Fight. I’m like, you can imagine how much effort and time and thought I put into this, right? This is my life. Like I’m saying, the match happened because of the vibe I put out. So now that they book it, they’re writing it. Now it becomes goofball city again. They’ve got me doing a thing with Terry Funk where — as great as it was to do something with Terry Funk, I’m chainsawing a table for some reason. Mick Foley’s giving me his barbed wire bat that I’m never gonna get to use. I’m like, ‘Why can’t we use it?’ They’re like, ‘Oh, blood.’ [sighs] I was also thinking in my head that they’re afraid to yell at Brock. So I’m like, ‘maybe we get a little hardway juice,’ you know what I mean? I’m thinking, ‘This is gonna be cool.’
And I’m thinking Brock is probably thinking on the same page as me, like, ‘We’re gonna tear it up!’ And I think he thought he was just doing me a favor, me being in the ring with him was enough to like do awesome things for me. I think that’s what he thought. He didn’t wanna be there, I mean he just put in the — and then the week leading up, I’m like — because this thing is a Street Fight. It’s not a match you can just call in the ring. It’s a Street Fight at WrestleMania, so we’ve gotta get stunts approved and set up, we’ve gotta get props for table bumps, or whatever we’re gonna do. I pitched all this stuff to everybody, all the producers and I feel like I’m just getting ignored. Because our match wasn’t important to any of the producers or writers, or Vince. They just gave me enough to give me the match, but they didn’t give me any help to make it a good angle or like, make it a hotter thing people want to see. And [I’m like] ‘Can we do this? Can we do this? Can we, all these different stunts and stuff.’ Like, I’m ready to die in the ring. I’m ready to take the worst — I’m not trying to put Brock through abuse. I’m trying to take the worst beating in the history of the world. I’m ready to be, if he kills me? Great, I’ll go down as a legend. I was ready to do ANYTHING. But in the weeks leading up, the angle was not good, Brock’s not even there half the time, we don’t do anything interesting.
The week before, in the go-home in Brooklyn, I carried a little red wagon to the ring and fill it with weapons. I go into Vince’s office. I’m mortified. Mortified! And I’m like, ‘Yo! I’m going to face Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. I’m going to my death! This is so serious, and you’ve got me dragging a little red wagon. Make me understand.’ And he’s like ‘Oh, it’s uh, it’s dead serious to you. You used to drag that white weapon out there, you aren’t even going to look at him. You’re gonna drag the wagon out, put your weapons in. ‘I’ll see you at WrestleMania.” I was like, I couldn’t convince him otherwise and I’m like, ‘Okay. I tried to do it exactly the way he saw it, and I’m thinking — and we’re in Brooklyn. I’m gonna walk out with a little red wagon and they’re gonna laugh at me. And they’re gonna think I’m the guy that’s gonna beat Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania? I mean, it kind of got over in the building to a degree, like they kinda laughed, you know. Because if anyone can pull a little red wagon and make it cool, it’s me. I remember right after that segment, I said to Brock, ‘Dude. I get to Dallas tomorrow, I don’t know whenever you want to talk. Whatever you need, call me at midnight, I’ll come over.’ And he just goes, ‘It’s gonna be okay. It’s gonna be okay. Just don’t worry about anything. It’s gonna be fine.’ And it made me kind of feel like, ‘Okay, he’s got like a plan or something?’ So I’m like, ‘Okay, all right.’
So everybody normally has like, at WrestleMania you have like rehearsals. They have rings in the hotel, and so you don’t have to do it on the day of, you put together your match, try stuff out. Because everybody wants to steal the show at Mania, you put in maximum effort during the week. You have scheduled rehearsals. We had one scheduled rehearsal on like 11 PM Saturday night the day before the show at the stadium. Because he never even came to the hotel, he didn’t get in until late Saturday night. So I’m like, ‘Okay, whatever. That’s pretty late but whatever.’ But we end up not even doing that, because he’s like, ‘We don’t need to do that.’ We have one conference call. It’s like me, Michael Hayes, Jamie Noble, Brock and Paul Heyman. A conference call on Wednesday, ’cause he’s not in Dallas yet. So I’m just in Dallas waiting, and none of my ideas are approved yet, Brock hasn’t even heard any of my ideas, because he doesn’t care, hasn’t been around. I remember the night before the conference call, I wanted to run it by Jamie Noble, the producer. And so we meet up at like, in the hotel in some kind of a landing stairwell or whatever at night. And I’m like, ‘Dude, check it out.’ And I lay out my ideas, whatever they were. And I was really trying to get thumbtacks approved. And I had Vince, cause I asked him, ‘Can I have one thumbtack bump, please?’ And he said, ‘Maybe,’ with a smiley face. And I thought, ‘Yes, I’m gonna get it.’ So whatever it was at the end, I was ‘And finally … he f**king F5’s me into the f**king thumbtacks or whatever, and I’m on his back, choking him, and he f**king puts me in an F5 in the f**king thumbtacks, and then he doesn’t even bother covering me this time, he just puts me in the head-and-arm choke … he f**king chokes me out, my f**king arm’s up in the air and it’s starting to f**king fade. And then I flip the bird, and then it slowly fades, my arm drops and he chokes me to death after just putting me through the most f**king powerboming me and f**king thumbtacks and F5ing me through f**king every f**king thing.’ I don’t know if it was a good finish, whatever. Jamie hated it. I even had an idea where I was like, ‘What if for like the weeks leading up to it, I start ankle locking people. Like, heel hooking people like Frank Mir did to him. Like I’m studying all of his fights. And I was like ‘I live in Vegas, Frank Mir lives in Vegas. I’ll even go to Frank Mir’s gym where he’s teaching me the way of the heel hook.’ I had all these crazy ideas of cool stuff, but nobody wanted to put any effort into it except me. It was like I was invisible for that whole buildup and the weeks leading up to it, during the week.
So we have this conference call. Conference call comes, I lay it out. Nobody says anything, I’m like, ‘Okay, here are all my ideas’ I give like every idea I’ve had for the past three weeks that nobody wants to listen to. Brock’s probably not even listening, and he just goes, ‘I mean, I don’t think we need all that stuff. I mean, all that extra gimmicks and stuff. It’s just a simple story. I mean look, you go to Suplex City, you get your hands on a weapon and make a comeback.’ And I’m like, and here’s the thing I kept saying throughout the week. I kept going, ‘What are the weapons?’ And it was like ‘Well, you got a kendo and a chair. Can’t use any tables, because those are saved for other people.’ They’re more important than my match. Can’t you know, no stunts, no nothing, you know? So like, I’m just like, ‘Aw, f**k.’ So I keep hoping that like the day of, something’s going to happen that’s magic. Because we had magic in the three-way we had before and like the little promo we did. It was there. Now the angle’s kind of goofy but like, something good might happen. I even pitched that he just elbows the s**t out of me and does a doctor stoppage. The same thing he did with Randy at SummerSlam. That’ll be cool. And you can’t say there’ll be blood because they immediately stopped the match.
So day of the show, I get there at like 11 AM. He doesn’t show up until like three o’ clock. We haven’t talked about any of this match. 3 o’ clock. Show starts at 5, we’re like fourth. Start talking about stuff, he’s just walking away, talking to other people. He’s not really interested, doesn’t wanna be there. And this is the most important match of my life. I’m like, everybody at WrestleMania wants to show up and steal the show. There are people on the show that night that I know were literally rehearsing their match for a month at like the Performance Center. Because you should show up at WrestleMania to want to f**king steal the show. And I was like, ‘Dude, we have the opportunity, we have a Street Fight. We can do anything. I’ll take any bump you want! Literally I’m begging you to f**king choke me. Please, powerbomb me into thumbtacks a hundred times. ‘Oh, we don’t need all that.’ Like, he did not have the mentality of trying to steal the show at all. Did not give a s**t.
So we’re finally talking, we start talking about the match in earnest the first time while the second match is going on. And we’re fourth. And then we don’t have a finish! And I’m like, he doesn’t want me to kick out of multiple F5s, and at WrestleMania everybody kicks out of like five F5s. Because he only does Germans and F5s. And I’m throwing stuff out there at the last minute, stuff that’s coming to my head. I’m like, ‘What if you f**king like run head-first into a chair and you back up into me and I put you into a German or something?’ He’s like, ‘No.’ By the end I’m throwing out every f**king stupid idea, you know? So we put together a little f**king sequence of dumb f**king — we put together a finish of like, maybe I’ll grab the barbed wire and duck it, and throw me into a pile of chairs, which was not even that good. That’s a brawl, that’s not WrestleMania. And I built it up in media like, ‘Yo, this is gonna be nuts.’ I was banging my head against the wall screaming at everybody for weeks it felt like, and it felt like I was invisible. Main reason was, I wasn’t the most important match on the show. I was basically non-important at all. As long as Brock’s on the show, Brock’s good. Other matches were more important, whatever match was on the show that night. I was just, they didn’t give a s**t.”
If anything is clear at this point, it’s how stifling the WWE system must be for someone who thrives on creating and believes what they’re doing is art. Working with a person like Lesnar, whose perspective seems to be the opposite of that - he will do exactly what is asked of him in exchange for the agreed upon pay, must have been doubly frustrating.
It also explains why Cody Rhodes, “just play your music” pitch about AEW’s approach is so appealing to Moxley.
So it sounds like the best thing for Mox and WWE was to go their separate ways. And, hey, - as fans, we’re getting a bunch of the kind of first-person backstage dirt we love in the process. So it’s a win/win/win.
Check out the entire two-and-a-half hour Moxley/Keller interview here and here. Thanks to 411mania.com for the above transcription from part two.