Jon Moxley is ready to step into a different ring as his new film “Cagefighter: Worlds Collide” is set to premiere on FITE in May.
Moxley recently spoke with Wrestlezone Managing Editor Bill Pritchard while promoting the film, a story about a “fight between a Pro Wrestling champion and an MMA champion inside a fabled cage of legends.” Moxley plays Randy Stone in the movie, and the cast is rounded out by WWE’s Christian (Jay Reso), and UFC stars Chuck Liddell, Luke Rockhold and Alex Montagnani. Moxley, the current AEW World Champion, shared his excitement for the film and talked about how FITE is treating the premiere like a big event as well shared some behind-the-scenes thoughts on how much fun he had working on the project.
Due to the current coronavirus pandemic, most people are stuck at home and can’t really go out and enjoy a live event so FITE is promoting it like a one-night world premiere event on May 16. Moxley explained how Christian recruited him for the film around the same time his WWE contract expired and said it was rewarding because he got to play an over-the-top character and also got to freestyle most of his dialogue.
“They were looking for somebody to play that role that had some name value in the wrestling world. I just happened to be available so it seemed like really good timing, they sent me the script and the character seemed like a real asshole, I said ‘I can play that for sure.’ The timing seemed like it was meant to be so I jumped in headfirst and it’s a cool opportunity to play a real jerk. Hopefully by the end of the movie you want to punch him in the face,” Moxley said. “One of the cool things was Christian told them to maybe let [me] ad-lib stuff, like wrestling-style interviews in the movie. I’d say 90% of my lines are ad-libbed, which is really cool that they gave me that opportunity to do that, to get on a roll verbally and say any ridiculous thing that came to mind. Every insult and swear word, anything I could possibly think of, it was a chance to really be an over-the-top character and that part was really fun.”
Moxley might be known for his carefree attitude and the ability to go off the cuff in relation to his wrestling work, so ad-libbing didn’t come as much of a challenge. When asked if there was anything that did cause him to change his approach, Moxley said the fight choreography was the hardest part.
“[Jesse Quinones], the director, is known for making more gritty, realistic films and the parts that were more pro wrestling related they let me do it and trusted me with it. One of the hardest parts was just on the fight choreography, me and Alex [Montagnani] got together for a few days in the gym in Canada and put together this fight. He was also working as a stunt coordinator but he’s also a legitimate professional fighter, so his knowledge and legitimacy combined with me being a pro wrestler,” Moxley explained, “knowing how to tell stories and be dramatic, we came up with all of these different ideas and created these fight scenes.
“That’s the fun part to me about getting involved in any kind of film project—the collaborative part of it—where even if I’ve done action movies in the past, it almost didn’t feel like work. You’re playing cops and robbers and punching bad guys, shooting guns, it’s really fun. This movie kind of combines those things into one. It was a fun movie to be a part of.”
The link and appeal of pitting wrestlers against outsiders is a tried and true formula in cinema (Rocky vs. Thunderlips in Rocky III) and the ring (Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki, Big Show vs. Floyd Mayweather). Moxley says the story in Cagefighter still resonates not only because people are enamored with once in a lifetime super fights, but also because it’s a timely story about someone losing everything and facing hardships before rising above adversity to get it back.
“We’re not spoiling the movie here, but the absolute worst thing that could happen, that he never imagined for himself, that happens and he’s ruined personally, professionally and financially and he hits rock bottom. Throughout the film he has to climb his way back up top and certainly right now, especially with people suffering financially, there are people out of work, wrestlers out of work, they have to claw and go through challenging times,” Moxley said. “It’s a very apropos theme for right now and maybe people can pretend they’re going out for a night on the town. They aren’t leaving their house, but maybe watch it in a different room and put on a nice shirt, have a nice meal or something and watch the premiere.”
There’s no question about it—the world has changed very rapidly in the last several weeks, with the professional wrestling world being one of many industries being affected by the coronavirus and quarantine measures. Moxley says he’s sure everyone is asking themselves the same questions about when things will be “normal” again and wrestling could take a big hit, but he’s being cautious and being as cautious as he can in a situation like this.
Moxley is in a unique situation where he works for All Elite Wrestling, one of the few wrestling companies still producing new (empty arena and closed set) content, but he also is a full-time resident of Las Vegas, another region that recently made headlines. Last week, Mayor Carolyn Goodman came under fire due to her comments about re-opening the city despite state guidelines keeping them closed. Moxley says her comments were phrased very poorly and she came off in a bad light, but it hasn’t been too bad being home as a resident in a town usually overrun by tourists. Home for almost a month now, Moxley explained that he had taped about three weeks of AEW Dynamite in Jacksonville, and now he’s just trying the best of a situation that he’s not used to as a professional wrestler constantly on the road.
“My wife just left today to go back on the road, and she hadn’t left the house in five weeks. Vegas is pretty OK. Everybody is pretty spread out and once all of the tourists left and they closed up the strip, it seems like the local population is fairly low. I don’t really know because it’s usually flooded with tourists, but we’re out in the desert and it’s pretty [sparse],” Moxley said. “I’m pretty lucky where I’m close to a bunch of bike trails and nature trails, stuff like that where you’re completely alone and you can get outside. I’d imagine it’s very tough to be in a big city right now like New York. I get a little claustrophobic so I wouldn’t want to be in an apartment right now.”
“I have it pretty good. I’ve been trapped here with my wife, who is my favorite person to hang out with and my best friend. I’m pretty lucky in that regard, just hanging out with our dogs, cooking some good meals and hanging out. I’ve bolstered my garage gym pretty substantially because I’ve always used that for these ancillary workouts but now it’s my main gym. I’ve had to order these huge kettlebells and weights, stuff like that, but I’m training everyday to stay in shape and enjoying the outdoors. I’ve been on the road for so long that it’s really weird being home this much, so I’m trying to enjoy it while I’ve got it,” Moxley said. “One day, this is going to be over and it’s going to be ‘foot to the gas pedal’ and I might miss my house. I’m trying to enjoy it. Wrestlers by trade are almost restless wanderers, and we want to get out of the house and travel, so it’s definitely tough for our breed to be stuck in one place. With everything that’s going on in the world, I have nothing to complain about.”
All Elite Wrestling is a relatively new company, just celebrating a year as an official promotion. Their first-ever pay-per-view under the AEW banner was last year’s Double Or Nothing in Las Vegas, but the city will not be hosting the second annual event due to current restrictions. The promotion usually has plans laid out pretty far in advance, building towards their quarterly pay-per-view card in front of large crowds but they’ve resorted to taping weeks of content at a time without any fans seeing it in person. Despite the setbacks and loss of revenue in towns scheduled to see Dynamite this month, Moxley says there’s plenty to look forward to on the road to their next PPV, and AEW is full of great minds that will make the best of a bad situation.
“It’s not ideal for anyone, especially a brand new company like us. We lost a ton of money on a ton of big houses [for Dynamite] like Newark, Philadelphia and Boston that were coming up, so it’s definitely not ideal. But we’re a team and we’re going to band together and do the absolute best we can in the situation that we’re in. There’s still a bunch of [episodes] of Dynamite in the can. I’m not exactly sure how much is left before we run out of content, but the semifinals of the TNT title tournament are coming up,” Moxley said. “All of the different creative minds in Dynamite are going to try—even without the energy of the crowd—they’ll try to do everything they can to put on what I think is the best wrestling show on TV right now.
“Double Or Nothing is looking to be a huge pay-per-view, it was huge last year too with the thousands of people going nuts in the crowd. This year is looking to be quite the opposite but everybody there is going to work our asses off to present the best pay-per-view we can as we wade through these weird times,” Moxley said, “then once things start getting back to normal we’ll start blowing the roof off of every arena around the country again. With what it looks like now, I’ll probably load the dogs up in the truck and make a trip east, camp out and help as much as I can with Dynamite going forward.”
Cagefighter: Worlds Collide premieres on FITE on Saturday, May 16; check out our full interview with Jon Moxley below: