So, on Thursday, January 21, Bleacher Report dropped an interview with AEW's Jon Moxley, among the various topics discussed was whether or not he would ever consider returning to WWE. Jon Moxley demurred, somewhat, stating that you never wanted to say 'Never say never', but also stated again that he really has no current intentions of returning to WWE for the remainder of his career. However, it hasn't stopped people from speculating on what the future might hold for the AEW Superstar.
For those who may not be aware, Jon Moxley spent nearly a decade in WWE, almost seven of which were on the main rosters as a top level guy and as part of the Shield with Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins under the name Dean Ambrose before leaving WWE in 2019 after deciding to not renew his contract due to his unhappiness with how his situation in WWE. Since then, he has gone to AEW and flourished, becoming their longest reigning World Champion, as well as a top draw, and becoming IWGP US Champion for New Japan Pro Wrestling.
So, why would he want to return to WWE after being quite vocal about not being happy their during his last run? Why would he stay with AEW Well, there's quite a few reasons on both sides.
1. Money: Mox has been upfront about the fact that he lives a pretty frugal lifestyle and doesn't necessarily NEED to keep wrestling. However, Mox and his wife, Renee, recently revealed that they are having a baby girl this year. That changes everything. Even for the very well off, having kids is expensive and WWE would definitely be able to offer Mox a pretty sweet paycheck to keep his little princess, and any other future children, more than comfortable.
However, Tony Khan, the owner of AEW, isn't exactly hurting for money and has made no secret of the fact that he is a BIG fan of Mox, so there's every reason to believe that Tony Khan could match a WWE offer made to Mox.
2. Schedule: This is where AEW would definitely have an advantage over WWE. Even before the pandemic, AEW's schedule was LIGHT, they only did one show a week and taped AEW Dynamite and AEW Dark in one taping. If Mox is wanting a lighter work schedule, AEW can definitely accommodate him.
WWE, is a little more complicate. Right now, WWE is doing shows in the Thunderdome, basically the biggest Zoom meeting ever, and aren't touring. However, it stands to reason that once the pandemic is under control and things can return to something resembling normalcy, that WWE will jump right back into their tour schedule.
3. Creative: There's no nice way to put this: Jon Moxley's promo talents were wasted in WWE and his time in AEW and NJPW proves it. WWE promos are usually scripted and it often doesn't matter if the promo works for the talent or the situation. One of Moxley's complaints about WWE was not having control over his creative direction and promos.
AEW has been SO different if you're a Dean Ambrose fan and have gotten to hear him on the mic in AEW. Mox has been allowed creative freedom over his promos and it shows. I can't think of a bad Mox promo, even the ones that were 'eh' have still been compelling and draws on YouTube.
4. Standing: Again, no way to be nice about this: Dean Ambrose was the best drawing star WWE wouldn't use properly. Even though he was easily the most over babyface/tweener, Ambrose was never given a real chance to shine as the star he is, often being used to get other superstars over and given lackluster title reigns before being left adrift in the mid-cards.
AEW is a whole different beast. Mox is THE star of AEW, the most recognized name on the roster, other than Chris Jericho, in terms of mainstream recognition. From the moment of his debut at Double or Nothing 2019, it was clear that AEW was going to give Mox the rocket and he's repaid them for their belief in spades, guiding the company through the pandemic and putting over their young stars. I don't see him giving that up to play second fiddle to Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins.
5. COVID Situation: Let's be honest, WWE's COVID response has been a mess. The company has had several outbreaks of the virus either on the main roster or at NXT and several superstars have been photographed flouting health recommendations.
To be fair, AEW superstars have been photographed flauting the rules themselves, and Chris Jericho has been especially guilty of that, but AEW also started testing their superstars right away for COVID and there has only been sporatic cases of COVID in the AEW locker room. Mox's wife, Renee, caught COVID while she was working at WWE due to that company not testing their superstars and Mox missed a couple of weeks of TV tapings in order to self-quarantine and care for his wife.
6. Boss: During Dean Ambrose's tenure in WWE, it was often reported that Vince was very high on him. Ambrose himself bragged about it to Steve Austin during their notorious Broken Skull interview. However, after Ambrose's WWE Championship run, Vince seemed to have lot interest in him as a main event guy. Ambrose got a run with the Intercontinental title in 2017, but was relegated the WrestleMania 33 pre-show, and saw his return from injury and heel turn hampered by inconsistent and ridiculous booking, including a burial attempt that ended up backfiring on EC3, whose WWE career never recovered. Ambrose was blunt in blaming Vince and Creative for the end of his WWE run, stating that he would never return as long as Vince was in charge.
That doesn't seem to be the case in AEW. I'm hesitant to say that Tony Khan worships Moxley, but he definitely seems to be a big fan. Khan has said recently that Moxley is his favorite person to work with when it comes to creative direction. Khan also made a point of praising Moxley's upcoming book that hasn't even been finished yet, and was one of the first people to congratulate Moxley on social media after the announcement that Mox and Renee were having a baby. Mox, in his turn has also praised Khan, seeming to like having a boss that was a wrestling fan as a kid during the 90s.
So, that brings us back to the original question: Where will Jon Moxley go once his AEW contract is up in 2022? Well, looking at everything, including statements made by Moxley, I think it would be safe to say he will PROBABLY stay with AEW, where he seems to be happy. However, IF WWE were to make him an offer and he can get a deal like Roman Reigns seems to have gotten, where he has creative control and an AEW type schedule, I can see Mox thinking it over.
Why? Well, Mox is 35 now, he'll be 36 in May of 2022, that's getting up there in wrestling, but it's not the end of the line. AJ Styles is in his 40s and still competing at a high level, but Mox has also been honest about the fact that his body is breaking down due to his almost 20 years in the business (he started wrestling in his teens). He could come back and do one more run with the Shield, or have a big feud or feuds with Roman and/or Seth, and ride off into the sunset to spend time with Renee and their child.
Would WWE make him an offer considering how things ended in 2019? Sure, they would. Dean Ambrose was always a big draw for WWE, and Moxley has proven in AEW that he's a main event draw. The Shield always drew money, so WWE would be crazy to not make even a token offer to Mox.
What do I think? As much as I would enjoy seeing Ambrose back in WWE, I know Moxley is much happier with AEW and with the creative freedom he's been given. Mox has made no secret of the fact that he became very depressed towards the end of his WWE run. That's enough to make me want him to stay out of WWE. Plus, he MIGHT get A push, but WWE would probably go back to making him a backup singer for Reigns and Rollins, instead of the STAR he is, I don't want that. I think Mox will stay with AEW and only return to WWE if/when the Shield goes into the HOF. That's enough for me.