On Jon Moxley and Creative Freedom

Well who knew that this whole thing with Dean Ambrose/Jon Moxley would turn out like this?  In hindsight when it was announced he wasn’t re-signing then you had to figure that he wasn’t coming back, but then the send off he got made it at least look like it would be a temporary thing.  Even when he showed up at All Elite Wrestling’s Double or Nothing there was at least an inkling that this might be a temporary thing before he came back.  But oh boy was that wrong.  As the round of interviews he’s been doing continue it seems pretty clear that for the time being at least you can add him to the ranks of CM Punk of guys who probably aren’t ever coming back.  He’s been unloading all of his frustrations from the last several years, from dealing with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 32 to dealing Vince McMahon as the final decision maker on what makes it onto TV.  And in doing so he provided fuel to everyone online who has been complaining about the WWE’s creative process, be they people with sincere critiques or internet trolls who looks ridiculous every day but still have managed to accumulate a following.  The WWE creative process is under fire like never before and Jon has essentially opened the floodgates for it.

Now if you think I’m going to put on my Vince McMahon Defender jersey again……not really.  Him having the final say is both the worst thing about their creative process and the best thing about it.  Jon made it a point to put over all the people who work behind the scenes – writers, producers, etc – and when you read between the lines it looks to me like by saying ‘creative process’ he’s mainly talking about Vince’s control over the scripts and the fact that they have scripts in the first place.  The way I’ve always seen it is that if you’re going to criticize Vince every time something happens you don’t like then you need to credit when something happens that you do like.  The infamous ‘Sufferin Succotash’ line that people unfairly bash Roman Reigns for is his fault, but he at least approved the same promos that endeared a lot of you to Becky Lynch over the last eight months.  He pulled the plug on the Bayley-Sasha feud that was heating up last year but he also gave us Kofimania.  The same creative process that gives us the bad stuff gives us the good stuff, too.  Too many times I’ve seen people adopt the ‘if it’s bad Vince did it and if it’s good then HHH or the wrestlers did it’ line of thinking and that’s nonsense in my book.  Like so many of the mixed bags we deal with in the life one of the hardest parts is accepting that the same person who brings us joy also brings us frustration.

And Jon made it a point in his Wade Keller interview to state that a lot of people there are happy with the way things work and that dirtsheets and fans have no idea what goes on backstage, which means that if you’re going to use his interviews to validate all of your takes and presumptions about life backstage at WWE as opposed to treating them as his account of life there was for him you might want to slow your roll there, buddy.  He’s made clear that their process, whatever you think of it, is not for him but it is fine for some people there.  His take on the existence of scripting promos in the first place, that if you need one you suck and shouldn’t be there, should serve as a marker of the personal nature of his frustration and not a green light for you to yell ‘see, we were right!!!’ about every bad take you’ve co-signed or regurgitated from the worst people on the internet.  After all do you really agree with him that anyone who needs a script is bad at their job and shouldn’t be there?  Be careful now, because that group just might include some of your favorite people and not just the ones you think need it.  Like he said himself, we don’t really know what goes on back there.

But there’s something else that has me really torn over this, and that’s the idea of creative freedom and people not being happy with the role they’re given.  Because for all his unhappiness with playing the wacky, goofy member of the Shield…….I and a lot of other people really enjoyed it.  You can’t really look at it and say that it was a bad business decision instead of letting Jon do what he wanted.  But it was bad for him personally and it wasn’t going to change because that’s life doing corporate level entertainment – something works it’s not changing – so he made the decision for himself.  And while I will miss the character I enjoyed watching him play, he doesn’t owe me or anyone else his mental or physical health in the process of entertaining us and he is talented enough that he will be able to entertain the way he wants to in his new place.  For all intents and purposes it’s a case study in working for the big corporate entertainment machine vs staying in a place where you get to do what you want – there’s a price to either path.  When you work at the machine you work for the machine and not yourself, and unless you’re able to find a way to achieve your vision within that of the people in charge it’s not going to be fun after a while no matter what they pay you.

Jon reminds me of Eddie Wilson from the 80s cult classic film Eddie and the Cruisers, the lead singer of a locally famous rock band who wanted to do music that was more substantive than what was selling, against the wishes of his fellow band members, the record company, etc.  (Movie wasn’t bad at all; check it out if you get a chance).  He also reminds me of William Shatner, who hated all things Star Trek after the series was finished and wanted to nothing less than to be associated with James T. Kirk.  In both instances the men in question found their way back to playing the public role that made them widely known in such a way that it didn’t make them miserable.  It doesn’t look like Jon will be doing that here, but even if he never comes back as Dean Ambrose I sure hope that he can find some solace in the fact that there are people not named Vince McMahon whose lives he did brighten up that way for eight years.  But of course that doesn’t make up for the pain he was feeling while he was there so I don’t blame him if he doesn’t.

But at the same time plenty of people find their way there and find happiness working within that structure.  The downside to championing those that rip the machine for stifling their individual creativity is that we run the risk of painting anyone who is ok working there to be mindless sheep who are happy for scraps.  In reality a lot of the people who are happy there are able to do what they want because it lines up with what the man in charge sees fit.  Or they view it as a job they get paid for and not a platform to express themselves, which is not wrong either.  We all do the things we do for different reasons.  I do hope that going forward that more people look at going to work there, or any big entertainment entity, in as matter of fact a manner as possible.  And that is that you’re going there to carry out the vision of someone else, and if you’re going to be happy you’re going to have to find a way to marry your own vision to theirs if it isn’t from jump/  I mentioned in a previous piece my own decision on what to do here and how doing this for money would affect what do, and that quite frankly no one right now is offering what it would take for me to make that compromise.    If nothing else Jon played his cards right and was able to get in a position to do what he wants without needing the money any more, a place that we all hope to get to one day.

OK before I end this……..a big middle finger to all the brand new ‘I was wrong about Roman Reigns’ people out there.  You know good and damn well that you were bashing the man because you wanted to and not because of some misinterpretation of where his lines where coming from. Just stop it already, you’re not fooling anybody.  As soon as the buzz from Jon’s interviews dies down you’re gonna be back to complaining about him again.  So how about you save us the trouble and get back to it now, because we sure as hell aren’t gonna wait to call you stupid again.  Thank you and good day!

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