With all the wrestlers who have the claim to be top stars in AEW, it is Jon Moxley who has the relationship with the crowd to truly be labelled the “top guy” in the promotion.
As a former AEW Champion and one of the figureheads of the Blackpool Combat Club, he has excelled well past the level he reached in WWE. Given the creative freedom by Tony Khan has been the best thing to happen for the former WWE Champion who has now been unleashed and is the frontrunner for the best wrestler of 2022.
He has showcased his incredible wrestling ability and work rate by wrestling everywhere and anywhere in the world in 2022. Not just in AEW and NJPW, but on the independent scene where he currently holds the GCW World Championship.
His current character since returning from dealing with his alcohol issues has been one of the most compelling on AEW TV. However, it would be a real treat for AEW and NJPW fans to see Jon Moxley unleash the Death Ride gimmick, even just for one night only at Forbidden Door.
Jon Moxley Death Rider
The name “Death Rider” for Jon Moxley came out of nowhere and was immediately greeted with reverence from fans of Moxley. It seemed to perfectly encapsulate his character, from leaving the super sanitised WWE world into the gritty, no holds barred world of the rest of the wrestling world.
Swapping his usual jeans/cargo pants for short tights and wrestling boots, Jon Moxley looked more like a real professional wrestler than he ever did in WWE. Not that it was a bad thing, as it was his gimmick and one he played to perfection, but his look in NJPW was a welcome change and one that he should return to in the future.
During his time as Death Rider, Jon Moxley adopted himself a protegee. He took under his wing a Young Lion (a trainee wrestler who is just breaking into NJPW) called Shota Umino. Shota was one of the top prospects in the New Japan Dojo and had drawn comparisons to NJPW legend and Ace of the Universe, Hiroshi Tanahashi.
Calling him Shooter, Moxley took Umino under his wing and had him join him at ringside. Shooter has since gone to the United Kingdom to continue his training and has adopted his own version of the gimmick for himself. He will likely return at some point to join up and eventually wrestle Moxley in a NJPW ring.
The origin of the name “Death Rider” for Jon Moxley is one that came out of pure coincidence. The former Dean Ambrose was not available to film the vignettes for his NJPW debut, so a stand in was required. The model wore a jacket found in a charity shop. which just so happened to have Death Rider emblazoned onto the back.
Even though the phrase meant nothing and was a complete coincidence, it stuck and helped make Moxley and immediate star in Japan.
With the upcoming AEW x NJPW pay per view, named Forbidden Door, it could be the time for Jon Moxley to bring the Death Rider gimmick to AEW.
With the gimmick, he is a mixture of a brutal fighter who is a master of his craft in the ring, who can fight any style against anyone NJPW has to offer. He showed that with a great performance in his maiden G1 Climax.
After that he became the IWGP United States Champion, and had a Texas Death Match that blew the crowd away at that years Wrestle Kingdom against Lance Archer. However, he was later forced to forfeit the championship due to injury although he later won it back and held it for a record reign.
However, his star has risen since then and looks to have a huge match set for Forbidden Door.
With CM Punk’s injury forcing AEW to crown an interim AEW Champion, Moxley looks certain to challenge for the championship at Forbidden Door. He will face the winner of a battle royal on Dynamite, with the winner moving on to Forbidden Door to take on Ace of the Universe Hiroshi Tanahashi.
The match was originally booked to be CM Punk vs Hiroshi Tanahashi but the injury turned out to be perfect for Moxley. Death Rider has been trying to face Tanahashi since he debuted in NJPW and Jon Moxley has called him out numerous times, only to be denied for various reasons.
The match for the AEW Championship would be the perfect time for Jon Moxley to unleash the Death Ride gimmick in AEW and become the first man to become a two-time AEW Champion and showcase himself as the best wrestler in the world.