AEW world champion Jon Moxley was recently interviewed by Sports Illustrated ahead of his title defense against Lance Archer on tonight’s one-year anniversary of Dynamite on TNT. Highlights are below.
His rivalry with Archer in NJPW and how he’s never pinned him:
We had a kickass match at the Tokyo Dome [at Wrestle Kingdom 14 in January], and it ties in perfectly to what we’re doing here. That was a Texas Death Match, last-man-standing rules, which is pretty unique for Japan. That allowed us to be something really different on the show. I was able to survive that match in the Tokyo Dome by getting to my feet and escaping before the count of 10. I barely got out of there with my head on my shoulders. Now he wants to finish the job, so to speak. Maybe he’s my kryptonite. The only guy I haven’t been able to pin or submit this year is Lance.
Carrying the torch during the COVID-19 era:
I’m the guy carrying the torch during a pandemic. It’s a weird time, and COVID is f—— up the bookings every week, but I want to carry the torch through tough times. Even though I didn’t originally picture myself in a good-guy, protagonist role when I first came here, it’s the way it happened. I can send a message of perseverance and picking yourself up after you fall down. People have lost their jobs, lost their business, and I can project strength, with no fear in the face of adversity, for those watching our show. I want to give stability in an unstable time. I need to give AEW some stability as we build a secure future for this brand, because it’s vital for this industry that AEW is a success.
What he thinks has been the most satisfying part of being champion:
The most satisfying part of this run has been telling stories unencumbered. We still have a collaborative, creative process, but I don’t have to listen to writers tell me my story. Tony Khan and other people have ideas, and when those ideas are better than mine, I use theirs. I could see the entire MJF match in my head long before it happened. That’s the artistic part of wrestling for me. I’m not blessed with the ability to do springboards or 450s or moonsaults, but I can tell a story as well as anyone in the industry. And at the beginning of this, we had a core group with name value. Now we’re building new stars. We need more and more stars for the future, people like Will Hobbs. When I go into a title match, I have a story I want to tell. I know who I am in the ring, I know my character, but just as importantly, I need to make my opponent look like a star. Eddie Kingston and the Butcher are two examples. People already know me, so my goal was to show the people of the world what they are about.
How he’s already had two matchups change because of COVID-19:
I’ve already had two title matches get pulled off TV for COVID reasons, and there could be more. I think people are used to it now. We all have to accept that, in 2020, whatever plans we make, they might have to change. It’s important to pivot quickly. We had the six-man tag planned with Will Hobbs and Darby Allin, which I was really looking forward to, and then there were COVID issues the night before. That was a big opportunity and was going to be a kickass match. There is a need to pivot, whether it’s AEW, WWE, NXT or the Tokyo Dome main event.
On Dynamite’s one-year anniversary:
One year of Dynamite, this is a landmark moment. At first, it all sounded too good to be true. But I think back on that first night, doing a live show on TNT. It actually happened, we did it. Then we built momentum, which was shut down like everyone else’s during COVID, but we’re surviving and thriving despite all that’s been put in front of us. That’s a credit to our talent and crew, suffering through horrible Jacksonville humidity all summer, so it’s going to be a celebration this Wednesday. And the lights are going to be bright this week. With an opponent like Lance Archer, you can imagine the lengths I’m going to take to make this a memorable night.