MOX by Jon Moxley Review – No Backup Plans

By JoshuaMacDougall on

About JoshuaMacDougall

Joshua (He/Him) is a contributor and writer for the Reading section of Geekly.
He is an enthusiast for fantasy novels, tabletop games, and wrestling.
Follow him @FourofFiveWits on Twitter.


MOX is the perfect simple title for a book that encompasses who he is as a person and a writer as much as a wrestler. Who is Jon Moxley? The wrestler is all the machismo of an action hero with modern sensibilities and the best parts of masculinity without the worst. The person, and by extent, the writer, is maybe more introverted but essentially the same person. The best wrestling gimmicks and characters are the wrestlers being themself turned up to eleven, and Jon Moxley embodies that. In 2019, professional wrestler Jonathan Good, then going by Dean Ambrose in the WWE, decided not to re-sign with the largest wrestling promotion in the world and instead signed with a brand new company, All Elite Wrestling, and returned to the name he had not used since 2011 on the independent wrestling scene, Jon Moxley. Two years later, after holding the top title in AEW during a global pandemic and becoming one of the top wrestlers in the world, he released his book MOX.

As he puts it in his prologue, if you’re not into pro wrestling, you’re probably not reading his book. However, even if you know the bare bones about wrestling, the strength of his writing will allow you to feel the emotions of what he’s going through and picture in your head his cheap apartment, the old WCW ring he trained in, the backstage before he is set to make his debut in AEW, and the area underneath the ring just before he’s about to become WWE champion. His writing will elicit the emotions he is feeling in the reader with a lot of colorful language. You’ll feel his determination to achieve his dream no matter what the cost, the desperation when the struggle of achieving that dream becomes overwhelming, the depression of when working your dream job turned into a living hell, and the weight off your shoulder when a new opportunity where you are free to be yourself arises again. 

His book reads exactly as he speaks on television, albeit more casually. It’s as if you’re meeting up with your pal, Jon Moxley, and he’s decided to tell one of his stories about his life in the world of professional wrestling. It’s not flowery but blunt, sometimes brash, and to the point, and that makes it feel real. As he puts it, Jon Moxley was born, became a pro wrestler, and until he started writing this book never gave his actual identity much thought. MOX isn’t a straight-up biography and the book benefits because of it. Moxley jumps around in chronology, but the chapters feel interconnected as if one story he’s telling you reminded him of another. He doesn’t go into how and why he became a pro wrestler until halfway through the book. By that point, he’s told stories that tell you exactly who he is, making the one of how he became that person more enticing. Stories such as the first time wrestling in New Japan Pro Wrestling, of why he doesn’t ride a motorcycle, of his famous FCW feud with William Regal, of his passion for the perfect sandwich, and the heartbreaking passing of his friend, Jon Huber, known as Brodie Lee in pro wrestling, last December.

Cover of MOX by Jon Moxley

The opening chapters, in particular, establish who Jon Moxley is. “We’re the good guys,” his dad tells him in their car as he picks his son up from the police station—a simple moral philosophy Moxley tries to follow. Do what the good guys in a movie would do and not the bad. He doesn’t believe in backup plans, and like many of us, he’s terrified of failure, but instead of backing down, he puts one hundred percent of himself into what he has decided is his future: becoming a professional wrestler. Then the next chapter shows as an example, detailing his first experience in New Japan Pro Wrestling right after he left WWE, knowing people are watching whether he will fail or not. He thinks of the Young Lions, the trainees in NJPW’s dojo that go through intense training to become pro wrestlers, putting one hundred percent of themselves into it, and Moxley wants to do the same as he returns to doing what he is passionate about again in the biggest tournament of his life, what is known as the G1. With no backup plan, he goes into the G1 barreling through the fear of failure rather than dwell on what might be a frightening new experience. In just these three chapters, Moxley will have you fired up and on his side.

Wrestling is a visual medium so writing the action that happens in the ring can be challenging to convey. So often, wrestling books tend to write the action as “I do an insert wrestling move here” then explain what that wrestling move is. Not Jon Moxley. The author does a tremendous job of making the reader feel like they’re living the action with Moxley. It can be slightly inside baseball if you’re unfamiliar with basic wrestling jargon. However, it’s the pacing of a match he nails comparable to any novelist good at writing action. When the wrestling match is moving quickly, he’ll write short, fast-paced sentences. If something happens that is especially painful, he’ll dwell on the details to make you feel it along with him. It’s just some overall tremendous writing that’ll make the reader look forward to the next match he describes just as if they were anticipating watching them.

Jon Moxley would probably call professional wrestling a kind of art. His passion for wrestling leaks out of his book the same as an artist’s book would of any field. You can feel the struggle of Moxley wanting to be a professional wrestler so strong but not having the opportunity. His story is not so different from the story of any other struggling artist. The way he writes his journey from sweeping the floors and setting up rings before he was of age to train, the height of success with his famous WWE faction known as The Shield, to being reborn again as he debuts for AEW will elicit the same feeling of triumph as any hero’s journey on a quest of their own. It only gets better when he tells the story of how he met, fell in love, and married his wife Renee Paquette in the same blunt but passionate fashion as he tells taking a move in the ring. Whether he’s a babyface or heel on television Moxley’s wrestling odyssey to success and romance in MOX will leave you rooting for him.

Photo from MOX

In a similar fashion to the Young Bucks book Killing the Business, this isn’t the kind of wrestling where Moxley buries people he’s worked with in the past and spills all sorts of gossip about people backstage. Even when he talks about his unhappiness working for the WWE, he doesn’t speak badly about his boss Vince McMahon but more about his frustration with the company’s creative direction. There is one notable exception, but anyone who searches their names afterward will know that person has a reputation for being despised. What does radiate off the book is the love he has for his friends. The chapters dedicated to Brodie Lee and Danny Havoc are prime examples. On top of that, though, Moxley gives quick asides when he mentions a friend for the first time who they are, what they’ve done for him, and what’s great about him. In a business that is often so cut-throat about individualism and putting oneself over another, it’s a breath of fresh air to read Moxley talk highly of people he has met and worked with.

MOX is Jon Moxley telling stories of life and professional wrestling in the best way he knows how by just being Jon Moxley. Like him, his writing is brazen, matter-of-fact, and oozing of charisma. It’s full of heartbreak, struggle, pain, loss, triumph, camaraderie, friendship, and joy in and outside of the ring. Jon Moxley has a gift for storytelling, and if possible, let MOX be only the beginning of books by him.

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Follow Joshua MacDougall @FourofFiveWits on Twitter.

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