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FSM Scouting Report: MOX

Book/Movie Title: Mox

Total Pages/Duration: 271 pages (Hardcover)

Author/Director: Jon Moxley

Pace of Play: Inconsistent sums up the pace of this autobiography. Based on the quick hitting prologue, the reader may get the feeling they’re about to buckle in for a wild ride. However, the book ends up feeling more “stop-and-go” by the final few pages. A page turner, this is not. There is never a sense of urgency to find out what’s coming next.

Strengths: The strength of this book comes from Moxley’s raw storytelling. He adds in some jokes and adjectives, but he usually gets to his point rather quickly (it’s just that one point quickly leads to an unrelated point which leads to yet another unrelated story and so on. The good news is that all the tangents are relatively brief). For example, the chapter about the late Brodie Lee starts off simply with, “Brodie died today.” Another chapter about a bully named Scott Baio goes into violent detail about Mox’s first significant fight. 

Weaknesses: The structure of this book is that there is no real structure. At least that’s clear from the beginning which helps the reader prepare. Maybe it was done on purpose to get a sense of what it’s like in Moxley’s head but it’s definitely a weakness in this case. Reading the stream of consciousness of someone who has ADHD can be a double-edged sword. The chapter about Mox receiving his training and paying his dues was surprisingly slow and boring. The tedious detail in that chapter came from out of nowhere. Lastly, professional wrestling books are generally known for some cool glossy photos, usually in the middle of the book. Mox has none. We just get a bunch of random pictures randomly placed, with some randomly in black and white (pretty random right?).

Unique Attributes: This book is unique in that it reads like a collection of short stories about Jon Moxley. One chapter doesn’t always lead into the next (there is a chapter about how to make a sandwich which includes diagrams) but it was a nice experience to read a crazy anecdote here and there over a few weeks. While most stories aren’t about the WWE, the best ones certainly involve Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and the creation of the Shield.

Scout’s Recommendations: Mox is definitely worth a read if you’re a fan of WWE, AEW, New Japan or any other of the many organizations that exist now. Chances are Jon Moxley has wrestled in most of them and has a story to share. If you’re not a wrestling fan, avoid this one at all costs as it’s just going to be one big confusing mess.

In Los Angeles Debut, AEW Delivers the Dynamite!

All Elite Wrestling (AEW) made its debut in Los Angeles, California last night. The fledgling wrestling organization’s flagship show AEW Dynamite was live from the Kia Forum in sunny southern California and there were definitely some explosions.

The live event came just days after AEW’s Double or Nothing Pay-Per-View which took place in Las Vegas, Nevada on Sunday at the sold-out T-Mobile Arena. Another town and another sell-out as thousands of fans packed the refurbished Kia Forum (old home of the L.A. Lakers) for 2 hours of what turned out to be darn good show.

The good vibes started in the parking lot. Fans with replica belts and t-shirts from all wrestling eras chatted as they made their way into the Forum. Everyone was excited. Everyone was power walking. This was something new and also something that doesn’t roll through Los Angeles often. The buildup to the 5pm show time felt like walking around the lobby at an All-Ages punk row show.

Then 5pm hit (the event was being broadcast live on TBS superstation) and the magic started. Cult of Personality blasted over the speaker and out came the newly crowned AEW World Champion, the hugely popular CM Punk!

CM Punk would fight in a triples tag-team match with FTR minutes later. Just some good ol’ fashioned technical wrestling to open the program and the fans loved every minute. Admittedly, The Best in The World looked winded and sloppy at times. Perhaps he twisted his ankle early on because it looked like his feet kept giving out on him. There was an instance in which Punk delivered something that resembled a power bomb but that was aimed at the bottom ropes (maybe). It’s quite possible he would have killed one of the Gunn boys had Papa Gunn not been standing on the ring apron to prevent his neck from snapping on the ropes.

Perhaps the most bizarre (yet thoroughly entertaining) moment came next. One of the AEW originals, Maxwell Jacob Friedman, or MJF as he is known, descended to the ring and unleashed a scathing promo, essentially calling his boss a loser and demanding to be fired. The bad blood between MJF and company owner Tony Khan has been spilling over into the public the last few months. In a nutshell, MJF feels he is not being paid what he is worth. Most of us can relate. As a fan watching, it was hard to tell what was fact and fiction. Especially when CM Punk limped out (he was wearing only one wrestling boot and appeared to be hurt both physically and emotionally) to try to calm him down. MJF ran out of the ring and into the audience at this point. That didn’t looked planned. Security wasn’t even looking and it was only after about 30 seconds that they were seen scrambling to find him in the crowd. These were clearly real security guards, not the guys Wardlow was beating up every week. MJF looked like he didn’t know where he was going and they never caught up with him. As a side note, we later found out that none of this aired on live television. Anyway, it’s not hyperbole to say this was a Top 10 live promo in wrestling history.

Things briefly felt weird after MJF’s tirade but the action picked up again and it was on with the show. The matches varied from fast and furious, to technical, to sports entertainment style. This brought great balance to the show. The hungry L.A. fans got a quick fix then were able to settle in. Some highlights from the event included the return of Miro, the debut of Fallen Goddess Athena Palmer, a bonkers 10-man tag match, and 2 Wardlow powerbombs.

The Jericho Appreciation Society was also on hand. Like most Jericho angles, it started out lame but is slowly growing on people. They let Judas go on a little longer than usual, maybe because it was Los Angeles!

The night ended with Jon Moxley and his ruthless aggression and a Chris Jericho run-in. A bloodied Mox helped set the stage for the upcoming Blood and Guts show.  

AEW didn’t hit a grand slam with this event but they didn’t botch it either. If this were a college course, they earned a solid A- and it’s safe to say fans left satisfied. Walking back to the car, there was no negative buzz. Of course, it always helps when a guy like Mox takes the time to acknowledge the crowd after the cameras go off.

It felt like AEW and the L.A. fans left a good first impression on each other. Hopefully that means AEW will be back sooner than later.

A Rowdy Guy Who Made Pro Wrestling Fans Smile

In 2015 the world of sports and entertainment lost a legend who passed away far too young. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper died of a heart attack at just 61 years of age. Born as Roderick George Toombs in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada in 1954, Piper was a professional wrestling superstar whose “Piper’s Pit” interviews were as legendary as his antics in and out of the ring. He was able to morph his career into many areas of entertainment including acting. He appeared in a number of on-screen roles and did cartoon voices, but Roddy is probably best known for playing John Nada in They Live, the John Carpenter science fiction classic that has developed a cult following over the years. Never one to remain in one persona very long Roddy began as a villain wrestler, but often crossed over to being a bit of a hero or good guy of sorts. He also performed as a comedian as late as 2014 and had an impressive following as a podcast show host.

Roddy was primarily of Scottish decent and proud of it as evidenced by the garb he wore into the ring. Although he became expertly adept at playing the Bagpipes at a young age, Piper says he cannot recall how that came about. Roddy does recall how he got his wrestling name. Early in his pro career he walked into the ring wearing a kilt and playing bagpipes. When the announcer forgot the last name he was using, he simply introduced the wrestler as “Roddy the Piper” and the name stuck. Piper’s life was always filled with controversy which began when he was unceremoniously kicked out of Junior High School. He later left home as a young teen after a number of arguments with his father. His dad was a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and always concerned about the family’s reputation. A natural athlete who worked out regularly, Piper managed to find work in any number of gyms which gave him the cash to live in Hostels.

Roddy had a very competitive spirit and began his athletic career as an amateur wrestler, boxer and judo competitor. He eventually won the prestigious Golden Gloves Championship and received a black belt in Judo from American pro wrestler, judo expert and champion Gene LeBell. By the time Piper was just 15 years of age he was ready to turn pro and joined the American Wrestling Association where he gained a reputation as a “bad guy” wrestler. He moved on to the more affluent National Wrestling Alliance in 1975. This organization was huge at that time and produced a number of super stars which included Buddy Rogers, Killer Kowalski, Bobo Brazil, Gene Kiniski, Dory Funk, Dory Funk Jr., Harley Race, Jack Brisco, Dusty Rhodes, Great Malenko, Buddy Colt, Eddie Graham, Sting and Bobby Shane to name just a few.

In the late 1970s to 1983 Piper moved through various pro wrestling territories and went up against top stars like Ric Flair, Jack Brisco, Chavo Guerrero and many others. He was often compared to Freddie Blassie and the two actually met in Madison Square Garden when Piper was given a match in the WWF by Vince McMahon. Blassie stuffed toilet paper in Roddy’s Bagpipes so that he could not play them for the crowd. In 1984 “Rowdy” Roddy Piper moved to McMahon’s Worldwide Wrestling Federal and instantly became a pro wrestling super star due to all the TV coverage the WWF garnered. One would think he was at the top of his career, but this was just the beginning. Piper became so popular and adept at interview skills that he was given his own TV segment called “Piper’s Pit” which became a favorite of WWF fans.

Piper was involved in all sorts of orchestrated mayhem which included feuds that involved WWF stars Captain Lou Albano, Hulk Hogan, Bruno Sammartino Greg Valentine and even Cyndi Lauper. Lauper was allegedly kicked in the head by Piper during an interview and that lead to a major row with Hulk Hogan and Lou Albano (who appeared in Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” music video). That blew up into a major grudge match at WrestleMania. Piper also somehow managed to get into a dispute with Mr. T (from the “A Team” TV Show and the “Rocky 3” film). The two eventually settled their differences by facing off during WrestleMania II. Piper lost after being disqualified for an illegal move. Like many pro wrestling super stars, Roddy Piper was beginning to feel the pain of a few too many injuries and took a year off from the WWF. He returned in 1986 with a revenge when he discovered that his “Piper’s Pit” had been replaced by a show hosted by Adrian Adonis called “The Flower Shop”. Piper appeared on the show, destroyed the set and all this lead to several very popular grudge matches that WWF fans really enjoyed.

By 1989 Roddy was more popular than ever and even hosted a live “Piper’s Pit” during WrestleMania V. An appearance on the show by once popular TV host Morton Downey Jr. turned into a big mess when Piper pointed a fire extinguisher at the always smoking Downey and sprayed him down. As Piper’s popularity continued to grow he began co-hosting Prime Time Wrestling along side pro wrestling legend Gorilla Monsoon. After replacing Bobby Heenan as co-host for the Prime Time show, Roddy and Heenan became fast enemies. Heenan enlisted “Ravishing” Rick Rude and Brother Love to get revenge and several entertaining encounters between the four followed. Brother Love (pro wrestler Bruce Pritchard, manager of The Undertake). Love wore a while suit and had a wrestling character based on some of the more outrageous tele-evangelists of the day. Love took over the TV spot once occupied by “Piper’s Pit” which angered Roddy so much that when he appeared on the show he told Brother Love that he smelled and had bad breath. Piper threw mouthwash and toothpaste in his face.

Although he began scaling back his actual pro wrestling matches, Roddy Piper managed to stay in the thick of things by getting involved in more feuds with competitors like Ted DiBiase (the Million Dollar Man), Jerry “The King” Lawler and Brett Hart. Piper was a regular at the WrestleMania events from 1989 to 1996 and even served as a celebrity referee. Roddy moved to the World Championship Wrestling organization in 1996 and joined in the much watched “Halloween Havoc” and “Starrcade” shows with the likes of Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and Brett Hart. Roddy later served briefly as the WCW Commissioner. During that reign he had major disputes with Rick Flair, Sid Vicious and Scott Hall. After peaking with the declining WCW, Piper found himself back with the WWF which in 2003 became Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment. That stint included a popular match with Hulk Hogan who, even after he was attacked with a steel pipe by Roddy, won the event.

During an extremely controversial appearance on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” Piper admitted that he had taken drugs to remain in the ring over the past twenty years of his career. He also intimated that all or most other pro wrestling stars did the same so that they could continue competing given the injuries they all sustained and pain they felt. This got Roddy fired from Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment. The TAW (Total Action Wrestling) group which included NWA stars, grabbed him up in 2003 despite all the controversy. The move quickly proved to be a good deal for both Piper and the TAW. So much so that Vince McMahon could not ignore Roddy’s new found popularity and soon brought him back to the now huge and still growing Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment in 2005. During that time Piper hosted yet another “Piper’s Pit” live show at WrestleMania 21. That same year he was also inducted into the Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment Wrestling Hall Of Fame. Piper often appeared on the much watched “RAW!” and “SMACKDOWN” Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment TV shows which brought his talent and craziness to the attention of a whole new generation of pro wrestling fans.

From 2003 to 2014 Piper continued to build his popularity with more “Piper’s Pit” shows and various matches and feuds with Ricky Steamboat, Zac Rider, The Miz, Dolph Ziggler and many others. Roddy had a few rough patches during this time which included some injuries he sustained from an auto accident in 2005 and a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2007. He recovered from the accident injuries and was said to have been in remission from the lymphoma in 2008 after receiving treatment for nearly a year. As his appearances on the major pro wrestling TV shows wained, Piper still appeared at a number of popular independent pro wrestling events like WrestleReunion joining other famous veterans like Bob Orton Jr. and Terry Funk. Popular MMA and UFC female star competitor Rhonda “Rowdy” Rousey (12 wins, 0 losses as of this writing) met Piper and told him she was a huge fan. She asked if she could use his “Rowdy” moniker and he happily gave her his blessing. She recently dedicated her match against Bethe Correia at UFC 190 to Piper after hearing about his death. She won the match in 34 seconds.

Piper’s final years were spent appearing on various TV shows including “Celebrity Wife Swap” while doing voice overs for popular cartoons, making comedy club appearances and taking on a few more acting gigs along with his pro wrestling duties. He never faded from from public view and even appeared on “Celebrity Ghost Stories”. During that episode he admitted having seen the ghost of his friend and fellow pro competitor Adrian Adonis in 2013. Roddy most recently lived in Portland, Oregon, with his wife Kitty. He had four children: Three daughters and a son. Piper became a Grandfather after his daughter Anastacia recently gave birth. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper passed away as a result of a heart attack on July 31, 2015. This is a common cause of death among former pro wrestling stars. After a lifetime of pushing their bodies to the limit I suppose that their hearts just eventually give out. Regardless of the cause of his death, Piper will be missed by the millions of fans who thoroughly enjoyed his skills and rowdiness in and out of the ring.

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A Raw Tribute to Mr. Brodie Lee

Mr. Brodie Lee recently reminded me to never stop betting on myself, so I felt compelled to dedicate this month’s editorial entirely to him. As a preface, this piece is going to be a little raw (no pun intended).

Professional wrestling is one of those interests that became part of my life along the way. I think it’s a misconception that older wrestling fans are all die-hards. People don’t realize that wrestling is simply another item on The List (pun intended) of things we enjoy, similar to watching the NBA, playing Fantasy Football, or binge-watching new shows.

People who don’t like wrestling will always think it’s stupid and weird. They’ll adopt the generic, stereotypical position that people who enjoy wrestling are stupid weird. Well, my response to this lately has been, “You know what? I think people simulating rape and murder on shows like Criminal Minds is pretty fucking weird.”

If people just knew how many deaths the longtime wrestling fan must endure, maybe they’d leave us alone. When I was barely a teenager, the great Owen Hart plunged to his death during a live WWE show. I thought it was tragic and rare at the time. Now I know it was just tragic.

Fans react differently to the passing of wrestlers based on their own histories of reinforcement. Perhaps they remember watching their favorite wrestler on WCW Saturday Night with their father or maybe they have a special WrestleMania memory involving close friends. Add to this the often tragic, abrupt, and unexpected nature of deaths in wrestling, and it’s easy to see why adult wrestling fans have such strong emotional reactions to events like Brodie Lee’s recent passing.

Personally, my history of reinforcement with Mr. Brodie Lee was very brief – like 6 months of being an All Elite Wrestling (AEW) fan brief. For whatever reason, I was in one of those life phases in which I wasn’t paying much attention to wrestling when Lee was big bootin’ people as Luke Harper. I knew of his existence, but not much beyond what he looked like. But when Mr. Brodie Lee debuted on AEW Dynamite last year in the midst of COVID-19, I was paying attention to wrestling. I loved Lee’s look and mischievous energy. Watching from home, his charisma was palpable in that empty stadium.

Fortunately, due to the pandemic, I was in a life phase where I could watch AEW Dynamite every Wednesday. This meant getting weekly doses of Mr. Brodie Lee as leader of The Dark Order. I wasn’t quite sure the direction in which Lee would take this group of misfits but I was excited to find out. Then it happened. After a Dark Order segment to end Dynamite, I did a google search of “Brodie Lee” and “WWE”. The fact that I did this search outside of my allotted TV watching time signaled to me that I was now an official fan of Mr. Brodie Lee.

The articles and podcast transcripts produced by my Google search only made me a bigger aficionado of the Exalted One. I learned that Lee, real name Jon Huber, decided to leave the WWE and safe money behind to pursue new opportunities in AEW. The decision didn’t seem to be made on whim, however. After years of giving his blood, sweat, and tears to the WWE, Huber concluded he was not going to receive a huge push or promotion in the company any time soon. I got the impression he wanted to stay there – until he didn’t. Maybe he saw AEW as a more realistic path to his desired spotlight. Whatever his motivations, Huber took that path and became an AEW champion rather quickly. I must admit, seeing him destroy Cody Rhodes in a blink of an eye was pretty damn awesome to watch.

Luke Harper or Brodie Lee were never a part of my greatest memories (unless you consider watching wrestling during a pandemic good times). So why is the recent passing of Jon Huber hitting me extra hard if I was only a true fan of the man for about 6 months? Our history of reinforcement together was brief to say the least.

Perhaps it has to do with Huber’s path to that TNT Television title.

Perhaps, as a grown-ass fanboy closing in on four decades of life, I know what it feels like to scratch and claw and give everything you have – and still not achieve a desired result.

Perhaps it’s because I know what it feels like to take a leap of faith while trying to outrun father time.

And how it feels like to have to provide my credit score to people less credible than me.

Perhaps it’s because some days I want to give up.

Or perhaps it’s because Mr. Brodie Lee reminded me that it’s never too late to raise that strap.

Yang Picks Fight with WWE

It feels like former presidential hopeful Andrew Yang is trying to pick a fight with the WWE. He has been vocal in recent months about the company’s treatment of its pro wrestling superstars who are actually independent contractors.

While Yang never gained serious support in his bid to win the democratic nomination for president, he became somewhat of a sensation and acquired a group of enthusiastic followers known as the Yang Gang. More relevant to this article though, Yang has always been a huge fan of professional wrestling. He also has never been one to hide his disdain of WWE owner Vince McMahon.

Yang’s main beef with McMahon is his treatment of his workers. As independent contractors, they are forced to cover their own health and travel expenses. Think about that for a second. The Undertaker has to pay for his own health insurance.

Wrestlers are also not allowed to use third party platforms like Twitch and Cameo. In fact, one recently got fired for defying this rule.

And then there are the many accusations of bullying and pressure to work in unsafe environments.

Yang suggested the solution may be as simple as the wrestlers joining an existing union like the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) to protect themselves. He has been much more vocal and passionate about this lately. The timing is a bit curious. Could he be taking this up as his cause?

More on this issue:

Andrew Yang Slams WWE on Talk is Jericho

Andrew Yang Discusses SAG with Wrestling, Inc.

Forbes talks about Andrew Yang calling out the WWE      

FSM Books: Shoe Dog

To steal an adjective often used by good ole’ Jim Ross (of WWE and AEW fame), Nike creator Phil Knight’s recent memoir Shoe Dog is a “slobberknocker” of an experience. One would have never expected Nike to overcome its somewhat humble beginnings, growing pains, and its lies – oh the many, many lies!

The beginning of Knight’s memoir finds him as a recent graduate of the Stanford School of Business. Unsure of what direction to go in life, he thinks about an assignment he completed in which he came up with his own business concept. He did well on the assignment and, since he is feeling a sense of urgency to figure things out in life (as many people do in their 20s), he decides to turn that assignment into a pursuit. His concept at Stanford was to import and export high quality running shoes. While this doesn’t appear to be a groundbreaking idea in 2020, Knight makes the reader aware just how ridiculous this seemed to others when he started his quest in 1962.

The “whatever it takes” approach is perhaps the most captivating reoccurring theme in Shoe Dog. It’s what sucks the reader in and keeps the pages turning at a somewhat phrenetic pace (don’t be surprised if you finish this book in 3 days or less). Phil Knight writes in a way that makes the reader feel they are a part of his unbelievable journey. By the end of his tale, the reader has jumped every hurdle, navigated every roadblock, and ultimately gets to celebrate the success of Nike alongside Phil Knight and friends. Of course, the reader’s experience comes from a distance and many years after the fact, but the feeling of being present at all times speaks to how well Shoe Dog is written.

Being present at all times means the reader is treated to some of these “whatever it takes” moments. Be prepared to battle a little anxiety as Phil Knight wiggles out of various sticky situations. These moments mostly occur during Nike’s infancy and often involve big fibs told by Knight. The ethics of Knight’s behavior during these situations are definitely up for debate. However, it must be noted that there was never malice in Knight’s actions. In fact, FSM would bet dollars to doughnuts that many entrepreneurs have told the same fibs. Without spoiling too much, get ready to join Phil Knight as he lies or stretches the truth when dealing with banks, suppliers, and manufacturers. Observe him as he travels overseas and secures a shoe contract for his company that doesn’t exist yet.

Sports fans may be surprised that athletes such as Michael Jordan are scarcely discussed in Shoe Dog. We started the memoir thinking a large portion of the story would include Nike’s major athletes and their impact on the company over the years. Aside from begrudgingly admitting these athletes were needed for purposes of advertising, Knight rarely deviates from talking about his own journey and his significance to the creation of Nike. By the end of Shoe Dog, it’s clear that Knight’s self-critical nature and baffling insecurity kept pushing Nike forward amidst seemingly insurmountable odds at times.

For those reading this memoir for guidance about business and/or life, you definitely won’t leave empty handed. Knight’s guidance is not delivered explicitly but found in his actions and self-reflection. For those reading for the purposes of entertainment, lace up your running shoes, take a deep breath, and prepare for the run of your life!

FSM Final Grade: A+

Purchase Shoe Dog Today!

Purchase the Shoe Dog Kids Version