When he speaks, the world listens. When he acts, the world reacts. Jon Moxley has been the focus of the wrestling world all month, and all eye will be drawn to him as he enters the G1 Climax. NJPW1972.com caught up with Moxley to talk about his prospects in Japan, the G1 and more. In the first half of this two part interview, he discusses his NJPW debut opposite Juice Robinson at the Ryogoku Best of the Super Junior finals.
–When you came to the ring at Best of the Super Juniors, it was much like your WWE entrances; through the crowd rather than the entrance ramp. What was the reasoning behind that?
Moxley: That idea was presented to me and at first I did think it was leaning a little on things I’d done in the past. But thinking a bit about it, it was definitely the right thing to do. I don’t want to be ‘too cool’ and ignore the things I’ve done. It is a cool entrance, and something I helped trail-blaze. The best thing about it was that it was a mood changer. The atmosphere instantly changed and I could feel that change.
Plus, Sumo Hall is such a cool arena, so historic, and to have that view from the top of the stairs, that was a really cool sight.
–You’d been to Sumo Hall for WWE before, but did it feel different wrestling there for NJPW?
Moxley: It was very different. I’d performed there six or seven times for WWE, but that was for WWE fans in Japan, or fans sampling that product. I didn’t know how the NJPW fans would react to me, or even know who I was. I thought I would have to show them who I was through what I did in the ring and the violence I put out there on my opponent. I didn’t know how it was going to go, but it was great. I can’t thank them enough for the energy they have, and the respect. The respect the Japanese fans have is tremendous. When I was in WWE, I looked forward to coming to Japan the most, more than TV, or WrestleMania, because they have such respect for this sport, and it makes you want to work harder.
–A lot of fans were surprised at the change in gear to short tights.
Moxley: I wanted to change my look, for sure. When I was in WWE, I always wrestled in jeans, and there was a reason for that; everybody else had fancy tights and I wanted to be the opposite. More grungy, a street fighter type. But wrestling in jeans, honestly, it sucks. They’re hot, sweaty, hard to move in. I’m done with wrestling in jeans! It’s so much easier to wrestle in tights.
My boots situation was a nightmare before I wrestled. I had a pair I bought that I was trying to break in, but they didn’t fit right. I tried another pair, they didn’t fit, either. They were too clunky. So I just went with regular wrestling shoes.
When I looked in the mirror before I went out, I felt naked because I was so used to wrestling in jeans. So I knew then that it would cause a reaction, and be a bit of a shock.
–Juice Robinson changed his look as well for this match. It was a real mark of determination from him. What impression did that determined Juice leave on you?
Moxley: I was disappointed that he cut (the dreads) off; I was hoping to grab them and use them to swing him around! But he was taking things very seriously. I was coming for this title that he’d defended three times, and I’d been tormenting him for so long, so he wasn’t going to get walked over. So it was a move to show everybody, me included, that he came to fight. He did that. He took everything I dished out. That was a war; I can take nothing away from Juice Robinson.
–You first met Juice in FCW. Juice told us you’d spent time in the bar together. Can you talk about that?
Moxley: Yeah, many drinks were had in FCW. He was younger than me. Like the Young Lions are in NJPW, he was like that, whereas me and my partner, Seth Rollins, were more experienced. He latched onto us, rode in a car with us and tried to learn. We were pals going through the same experience, of training, of being stressed about whether you’re getting called up… we shared that experience together. We hadn’t seen each other for four years (when we wrestled) and when you wrestle, business is business. I’d been playing mind games with him too, you know. So for me, business is business and when the bell rings we can go for a beer, but I don’t think he wants that. He wants to come after me, and that’s fine.
–Did you follow Juice’s career in Japan?
Moxley: I did. I knew he was here, and training in the Dojo. I saw his matches, saw him become US Champion. I wished him the best, I was rooting for him.
–It was quite an intense, hardcore style of match. How do you feel about the match itself?
Moxley: I loved the whole thing. I love being in intense blood and guts stuff like that. It was a tooth and nail fight, and I loved that. When the crowd and the announcers are saying to each other ‘this is crazy!’ I love that. Those matches where you just go all out, everything on the line, be it for five minutes or 20 minutes. Just wild stuff. I love watching that.
The whole experience was great. I’ve been watching NJPW, and New Japan is professional wrestling. I love professional wrestling and I feel for a few years that I had been relegated to being an entertainer. So I was excited to just go in, no pre-conceived notions, no baggage of thinking about who this new Jon Moxley is. Just going out and seeing what happened.
It was all like an acid trip to be honest. With the jet lag, the new environment, the new fans, this friend I used to have now being a guy I’m fighting, this new gear that makes me feel naked… it was just madness. But I started to feel my groove. I started to get in the zone, and that felt really good.
–Do you feel that Juice has progressed as a wrestler since you last saw him?
Moxley: Oh, definitely. Juice is a totally different guy now that he’s grown up in Japan. That fight we had is a testament to how much he has grown. If that match happened four, five years ago, I would have run over him in five minutes, but it took 20. That’s how much he has grown.
In part two, Moxley talks about his plans for the future in Japan and the G1 Climax!