A WWE/NJPW Partnership Puts Jon Moxley In An Interesting Spot
The rumor mill has been working overtime over the past week regarding a prospective partnership between WWE and NJPW. The terms of any such deal are up in the air. That hasn’t stopped fans from speculating about Japanese talents who’ve never worked with WWE before like Kota Ibushi, Kazuchika Okada, or Shingo Takagi crossing over. That’s not to mention Western talent working in New Japan like Will Ospreay or Jay White. All of these considerations leave Jon Moxley—formerly known as Dean Ambrose—in a particularly interesting spot.
Jon Moxley Is The IWGP United States Champion
Jon Moxley is the current reigning IWGP United States Champion under the New Japan banner. He’s on his second reign with the title, which presently stands at over 500 days. The length of the reign may be inflated by COVID limiting his NJPW appearances, but he’s nonetheless remains one of the promotion’s most credible champions. Between that status and the fact that he’s based in the US—thus making it logistically easier for him to work with WWE talent—it feels like he’d been obvious choice to involve in any sort of talent exchange.
Moxley Didn’t Leave WWE On Great Terms
Jon Moxley worked through the end of his WWE contract, gave his notice, and “took his lumps” as he wrapped up his tie with the company. That ending included getting getting buried despite his popularity with fans–manhandled first by Nia Jax, then Drew McIntyre, besides losing a match to EC3 in his final stretch. He closed out his WWE tenure on a more mutually positive note, working a final reunion tour with The Shield.
Despite, on paper, doing right by WWE, Moxley’s departure from the company wasn’t entirely clean. As he discussed on his visit to Chris Jericho’s podcast, when Vince McMahon asked him for the personal favor of working one last tour abroad to headline with The Shield, he fudged the truth, saying he was committed to a “movie.” The movie at hand was really a personally produced vignette to announce his liberation from WWE, and from there he’d make waves working for WWE’s closest things to competitors—AEW and NJPW. Moxley hasn’t pulled any punches since, publicly criticizing WWE’s creative processes, how out of touch McMahon is, and how he felt his character was mismanaged. A return to working with WWE, before the dust has even settled, would feel awkward to say the least.
A Shield Reunion
One of the more mutually beneficial scenarios that might follow from Jon Moxley appearing for WWE again would be the potential for a Shield reunion. WWE wasn’t shy about reassembling one of its best-received factions over and over again, as a money making team that tended to both move merchandise and put on very good matches. Moreover, by all accounts, there was a genuine sense of real-life affection between Moxley, Roman Reigns, and Seth Rollins.
Part of the intrigue of the band getting back together at this point is that Reigns is entrenched his run as WWE’s top heel, and Seth Rollins has played a villain for the last year and a half. There are a number of interesting scenarios that could follow, ranging from Moxley turning heel to join them, to playing a wild card tweener. Moreover, given how rapped up Reigns is in storylines with his cousins, The Usos, there might be some fun stories at hand about which trio Reigns is more loyal to, or using The Shield to test his cousins’ allegiance or value to him.