1. A type of nuclear fuel designed for use in breeder reactors, consisting of a blend of uranium and plutonium oxides.
2. Jonathan Good.
We just recently passed a milestone, you might remember it well. It was a cool Monday night in November 2018, Nov. 26th to be exact — a little over two years ago.
That night wrestling fans were entertained by… Dean Ambrose receiving a litany of vaccinations because people who live in Milwaukee and Houston are sub-vermin. Apparently.
Somehow, some way, the Rollins-Ambrose feud was overwhelmed by overbooking, gas masks and rabies vaccines because that’s what passed for entertainment those weeks. That feud wrote itself with their backstory, yet it became a convoluted, contrived mess.
“Good shit,” it was not.
There are some out there who are blatant apologists for WWE’s subpar booking, perhaps even blatant apologists for Vince McMahon and his processes as a whole. Even in their criticisms amid their pro-WWE leaning, they exonerate McMahon’s part in his own product producing off-the-wall content such as how the above Rollins-Ambrose program formulated. Like he can exist only in his successes apart from his failures.
That program should have been something special, and instead it was a dud; when we dissect how that angle started, ran and ended prior to the Shield curtain call(s), it felt uninspired. And that isn’t a knock on either man.
As the feud petered out around the 2019 Rumble once word spread Ambrose was departing the company, he was relegated back to WWE’s fringe: a dead end short program with EC3, the weird Nia Jax angle where we presume he was going to lose, and the repeated burials week after week where you were certain he was being written off television each time. And as it all wore on leading into WrestleMania and beyond toward the end of the month, the fans cheered him exponentially more each week, whether it was genuine sadness he was leaving or if you could deduce what was happening within his booking.
Hilariously so, though, as much as he was booked into oblivion on the way out, fans seemed to rally around him as he went out of the company. He did his job, he did what he was asked — even if it involved needles and a gas mask — and as much as “creative” seemingly tried, all it did was rekindle Jon Moxley’s flame and morph it into the core of the near-monolithic AEW World Champion and 2020 PWI Wrestler of the Year.
“One day they will all come to my funeral just to make sure that I stay dead – but today is not that day. I am alive.” – Jon Moxley, May 2019
Kenny the Alpha to Mox’s Omega
There’s a fair amount of sweet poetry in the dynamic of Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley as we sit on the precipice of their AEW title clash on Dynamite. It’s as though the two men occupy facings of the same coin as they dance on its edge.
While Moxley was recovering from an injury through most of 2018, Kenny Omega tore through the wrestling world, claimed the IWGP title and was named the PWI Wrestler of the Year. Again, while Kenny was flying his highest, a spot he has yet to replicate or regain, Moxley was on the shelf, inactive and even upon returning, only got a needle in his butt.
Fast forward two years, and the coin they’re flipping back and forth has landed continually in Mox’s favour. He is the wrestler of the year. He is the champion. He is the revered king of the mountain. Their evolution as people, as wrestlers, as characters and as champions defines why this match on Dynamite is so noteworthy, but also why it’s so critical for AEW.
The match itself, for it to be a success critically and in fan’s eyes hinges on their characters, their stories and above all their history. From 2018 into 2019, it was Omega who was king. It was he who was opposite Chris Jericho for the right to challenge for the AEW title. Yet, as Mox debuted, the story we’re told is Omega was derailed; and with that arrival Mox obliterated everything in his path on a nuclear scale. Omega included. To this day, Omega has a pinned tweet he wrote directly after their first match at Full Gear 2019, citing their rivalry was far from over. That there would be a reckoning between them. And he’d win.
Mox flipped their coin last November, and that time it rotated, hit the ground and his face became all we saw on the AEW marquee. But if you know anything about flipping a coin, how it lands depends on how you flip it. Now, here we are again one year later, with Mox and Omega’s coin flipping upwards — waiting for it to fall. Waiting for its landing, where it settles and what it means for AEW and wrestling as a whole heading into 2021.
From the winding roads, turns, matches and title defences throughout 2020, we find ourselves at a crossroads as their paths converge again; the chill of inevitability settling in as a war-like, unforgiving Winter approaches with a blizzard so thick it obscures what comes next as we head into the new year.
“The whole world is barrelling down on me, my body feels like hell. I can’t even get out of bed in the morning. … I’m holding titles on two different continents, I’ve got challengers coming from every which way. What do I do? I know what to do: ‘we’re the good guys.’ So tonight we’re going to walk to the ring. I’m going to sign that contract without any hesitation. I’m going to look into Kenny Omega’s eye, I’m going to shake his hand and let him know in no uncertain terms I am the best wrestler in the world. I am the AEW world champion. I am my dad’s son. And I am Jon ‘goddamn’ Moxley.’ And that is never gonna change.” — Jon Moxley, November 2020
All Things Must End
All chapters eventually conclude so the next one can be written, you can’t really tell a complete story otherwise.
The Moxley and Omega story is one of opposites in style and philosophy, anchored by what ironically makes them similar. At different points of their careers over the last two years they have occupied the space on our screens as two of wrestling’s best among their contemporaries; although never at the same time.
When Omega reigned among critics and wrestling media in 2018, Mox pined from afar. In 2020 with Mox on top, we saw “The Cleaner” re-emerge as his ego demanded the spotlight once more. This give and take, push and pull, yin and yang within their dynamic offers sincere parity, and now that their paths are truly converging we find two stories being told.
In Mox we see the hard-nosed champion with dominions on two continents, who scraped, clawed and defied his way to the top of the mountain. He has turned away every challenger to his thrones and yet, also, he’s fully aware his time is coming. He knows his own mortality.
With Omega, we see one of the most gifted athletes and minds in wrestling today, but whose ego can’t allow for anyone else to be called “the best.” He wants the title because he needs it for validation, if not self-actualization.
These elements coming together are explosive, infused by Jon’s mox-fuelled energy and Omega’s ego-centric drive that should by every metric make their match a series of nuclear highs, balanced only by the intricacies between the explosive moments and serene calm.
Those details are what makes this pending encounter worthwhile. Why it sets the tone for AEW, and needs to be an answer to their critics. This can’t “just” be a match, it needs to be a moment in time with the best, top-tier wrestlers in the company coming to blows. This is the match that makes or breaks Tony Khan’s pledges to change the game, Omega’s pledge to change the world, and Mox’s to shift the wrestling paradigm. This match will either catapult AEW forward or leave it where it currently sits.
For as much as so many criticize WWE for their preoccupation with “creating moments,” AEW has not been in the business of creating moments for some time. Perhaps not since Double or Nothing 2019 when Moxley coincidentally debuted; that needs to change. “Winter is Coming” Dynamite needs that spark, not just mere Game of Thrones-style hype.
AEW has spent two years building their foundation, setting their path toward a match that will define AEW one way or another. Whether it’s Moxley or Omega, whoever sits atop the AEW throne after Dynamite will be responsible for the fallout. Alternatively, perhaps tomorrow, Moxley’s prophetic promo comes true and the paradigm formally shifts.