Some wrestlers have a personal story behind their ring name. Kevin Steen became Kevin Owens in WWE as a tribute to his son, Owen, who was in turn named after Steen’s childhood hero Owen Hart. Colby Lopez chose to be called Seth Rollins in a nod to Henry Rollins, the singer for punk band Black Flag.
Jon Moxley, though, uses a name that somebody else came up with on the fly a decade and a half ago.
Moxley (real name Jonathan Good) explained in the first episode of AEW’s new official podcast Unrestricted that the name was bestowed on him just moments before his first match in his hometown of Cincinnati in 2004.
Good, who was in high school at the time, and another aspiring wrestler at Les Thatcher’s wrestling academy were booked as a tag team of “stoner football players” who wore football jerseys and football pants to the ring and acted like airhead jocks. But they hadn’t come up with a name, so when Good learned he’d actually be performing in front of an audience for the first time, he needed one fast.
“I didn’t have a name. I’d probably been thinking about names for years and years, but I had no ideas. The day we had our first match—it was the ‘always bring your gear, because you never know when you’re going to have your first match’ thing—I had no idea I was going to have a match that day. I thought I would just sit, doing security and sell soda pop or whatever. They’re like, ‘Yep, you’re in the third match.’ I remember being so nervous. There’s like 14 people in the crowd or something like that. Now I don’t get nervous at all, but for that day I almost immediately s--- my pants.
“So, right before I’m about to go out the ring announcer said, ‘What’s the name?’ I didn’t have one. I was baffled. I froze up. I didn’t have a good name. We had football uniforms on and this other wrestler guy was just like, ‘It’s like the Varsity Blues guy. He’s like the guy from Varsity Blues, Jonathan Moxley.’ They’re like, ‘That’s cool.’ I was too nervous to say yes or no.
“Literally on the spot within 90 seconds, that’s where the name comes from. Actually, in the movie, it’s Moxon. So the guy screwed up the name a little bit. It wasn’t my idea at all. It was just foisted upon me.
“I dropped the football thing after like six months, I just kept the name, locally. I’ve always kept it. I don’t mind it. It works.”
(The conversation begins at the 11:00 mark here.)
Good kept using the Moxley name, earning a reputation as a hardcore brawler who had brutally violent matches in promotions like Combat Zone Wrestling. He was signed by WWE in 2011, at which point he became known as Dean Ambrose. After he left WWE in 2019, Good teased a return to the Moxley gimmick with a movie trailer-like video that depicted him escaping from prison. When he made his surprise appearance at AEW’s Double or Nothing pay-per-view, Jon Moxley was officially back in wrestling for the first time since 2011.
Though he used the name for many years, Moxley did not try to gain legal control of it until recently. On Feb. 7, Good filed trademark applications for the Jon Moxley name and for the use of “Mox” on apparel.