Jon Moxley says AEW's success is down to letting talent speak "from the heart" as Mirror Sport gives you a first look at his latest film.
The star formerly known as Dean Ambrose in WWE is now the world champion of rival promotion AEW and also pursuing an acting career.
On May 16, a 'one night only' movie event comes to FITE.tv that pits a top MMA fighter against the most dangerous pro wrestler in the game.
A unique pay-per-view style extravaganza, Cagefighter: Worlds Collide will star Moxley, real name Jonathan Good, 34, from Cincinnati, Ohio.
The film, which taps into a rich tradition of sporting crossovers and fight movies – Rocky III anyone? – will also feature familiar WWE favourites Christian, Matt Hardy and Bubba Ray, and looks to be a must watch for wrestling and action movie fans alike.
Today we can exclusively reveal the extended trailer for the movie [below] and Mirror Sport's Sam Benjamin caught up with Moxley, and director Jesse Quinones, to quiz them about the unique project.
So tell us about Cagefighter: Worlds Collide.
Jesse: It tells the story of Reiss Gibbons [played by British actor and Contenders MMA fighter Alex Montagnani] who's a five-time MMA champ for a promotion called Legends, a fictional division in the movie. He's got the world in the palm of his hands, an amazing manager Reggie – played by the phenomenal Elijah Baker – and sponsorship deals.
Then his promoter Max Black, played by Gina Gershon, says 'for your sixth title defence I wanna pitch you a guy called Randy Stone, who's a pro wrestler'. At first he's not sure and he thinks it's a bit of a gimmick, but then they start seeing the commercial potential of the fight… but it ends up being the biggest fight of his life.
Jon, can you tell us more about your character Randy Stone, and what it was like playing him?
Jon: My character Randy is the antagonist. The dude can be very abrasive, and in my not so finer moments, I can be like that! They sent me the script and I was like 'oh I can play that for sure!'
When you're playing a role like that, where the goal is to be hated by the end of the movie, you wanna see this guy get punched in the face – it's fun to do. It was about bringing that pro wrestling, over the top arrogance. It was an easy role for me to step into.
Jesse is known for making grittier films so instead of bringing in a cartoony bodybuilder with a mohawk or something; they brought a real pro wrestler. I got to ad lib off the top of my head and talk all the trash I wanted! Any ridiculous insult to put myself over, so that was really fun. You probably have a whole hour of DVD extras of me talking trash to my co-star.
What inspired you to write the film, Jesse?
Jesse: I love MMA. I love wrestling. And I'd never seen a movie that bridged both worlds. For me it was exciting to work with legends from mixed martial arts like Chuck Liddell, with pro wrestling legends like Jon and Christian. We've also got some really cool cameos too – Matt Hardy, Bubba Ray…
How did you get Jon onto the project?
Jesse: Through Christian, Jay Reso. He's the exec producer and he plays a character called Steven Drake, who's like a podcaster and a bit of a s*** talker. He's so good. I used to play video games with his character so I was like a kid in a candy store working with him.
He also got Bubba Ray onto the project too. And my producers opened up the links to Christian in the first place.
What was it like making a movie with a combination of MMA guys, actors and wrestlers?
Jon: It was a wacky menagerie of people. Alex Montagnani who plays the MMA character is a legit pro fighter and this is one of his first big breaks in acting. Chuck Liddell is the baddest of all badass MMA fighters. He was cool and chill. There's lots of downtime between shots, so shooting the s*** with Chuck was the coolest thing ever.
Gina Gershon is just a world class legit actress. One of my favourite movies ever was Face/Off so it was definitely cool for me. Alex and I do all our own stunts, so we put the two big fights together. Three different minds of Jesse, Alex and I was a cool combination for creative fireworks.
What are some of your favourite all time movies?
Jon: I grew up in the '90s, so I'm a big '90s action movie guy. Favourite movie of all time is probably Point Break, Speed, something like that. We've become so reliant on CGI, if you watch a movie like Transformers, it's harder to relate to, or get into. It's getting so crazy now.
I like watching movies like Speed where they jump the bus over the highway. That's a real bus! I feel like we don't have real explosions anymore 'cause it's easier to just CGI it. I like movies where they really blow s*** up.
You know what movie is really underrated? Drop Zone with Wesley Snipes. It's kinda like Point Break with skydiving. I feel like that one slipped under the radar. I love Demolition Man too.
Jesse: I like genre filmmaking. People like Sylvester Stallone. That guy is a genius. You look at Rocky, you look at Rambo. Yes it's got the big explosions and the big guns but it also talks about serious subject matter while being entertaining. We tried to make Cagefighter: Worlds Collide big. Big spectacle, big fights, big characters.
I have to ask then, was the movie in any way inspired by the classic Rocky III scene with Hulk Hogan aka Thunderlips, facing off against fighter Rocky Balboa?
Jesse: [Laughs] Yes. Definitely inspired by! If you like the Rocky franchise you will like this. I would include Creed as part of that. I think also Warrior is a great movie this has a feel of. And The Wrestler too.
Jesse, you mentioned you're a big pro wrestling fan. How did you get into it and what do you love about it?
Jesse: I first fell in love with it when I was around eight. It was through my step father. My favourite was Macho Man Randy Savage. I would stay up late to watch it. And we were playing all the video games and wrestling around with my brother all the time.
I remember I used to get scared and have nightmares. I used to be afraid of Freddie Kruger and then my dad just used to say 'picture Andre the Giant'. And you know – it actually made me feel safe. So I had protection. Wrestling just bonded the family. Then I got into MMA and UFC.
Then on this project my producer Shane Putzlocher is wrestling crazy so that rubbed off, and I now have an 11-year-old son and it's bonded us too. Right now, I'm really excited by AEW. It's got that classic spirit of stories and characters.
Speaking of AEW, Jon what's it like being the AEW Champion under these lockdown measures?
Jon: The way they had it when we taped at Atlanta was pretty cool with a few people scattered around the building. An audience is critical to the whole thing. So 10 people in the building makes a huge difference in the air. The energy and feel.
Now we're just entertaining through the cameras and the fans watching at home. We kind of have that old studio Memphis thing going on now.
Who for you is the stand out surprise package of AEW?
Jon: This is gonna seem like a generic answer, but I think everyone is hitting it out the park. Everyone has stepped up to the plate whether it be Joey Janela or Sammy Guevara, or Inner Circle, or Darby Allin. The women also go out there and have great physical matches.
There's so much talent. We already knew Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks were amazing, and Cody has now stepped up to be a true main eventer.
What's been the key to AEW's success so far?
Jon: We've brought back everyone being authentic – people cutting promos from the heart. Letting people say what they want whether it be good or bad or indifferent. It's about just being you and bringing what you bring to the table unapologetically.
That's what they did back in the day, like NWA Starrcade '83 era. Dusty Rhodes, [Roddy] Piper, Terry Funk. These guys spoke from their own heart and their own brain. They brought what they brought 100% unfiltered and that's what we've brought back.
Whenever I watch that era, I often think you'd fit right in fighting those guys!
Jon: Thank you. I'm a huge fan of that era.
Quarantine has put a spanner in the works but I have to ask, are there any plans for a UK pay-per-view from AEW?
Jon: I know there were plans and I don't know what the new plans are, but I would suspect strongly there will be an AEW presence in the UK in the foreseeable future. One of the things I always looked forward to most in WWE was the European tours. You know Leeds, Sheffield, London, Manchester, Ireland.
The fans are crazy there. There's a sports kind of mentality – that soccer football mentality with the chants and stuff like that. It's really fun. I was about to go over to Ireland right before the travel plan for a stadium show, but obviously that was cancelled. But in the future I am sure AEW will make its presence felt in the UK.
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I heard you're planning an action movie with filmmaker Matt Burns, who worked on your MOX vignettes. Anything we need to be looking out for?
Jon: I had an idea based on a conspiracy theory documentary that I saw. Matt had something in a similar vein so we blended our ideas. We created this actual script where the character is someone I could play. We went through all the legal protections and made a pitch. It was working out and it was looking like we were going to be filming this thing before the end of the year. Now we are probably gonna be severely delayed.
You only get one life unless you're one of those people who think we get like, a hundred different lives, which would be cool, but if not, you only have one life. If you have an idea just go for it! Think big. And that's part of the spirit of AEW. Jericho wanted a cruise. He created a cruise! You gotta go for it.
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