Photo Credit: AEW
On the morning of Oct. 31, 2021, Jon Moxley woke up hungover in Des Moines, Iowa. He knew the feeling all too well.
For more than two years, the All Elite Wrestling (AEW) star said he drank alcohol daily, often to excess. Moxley tried to quit on several occasions, but the withdrawals were unbearable with his schedule, and attempts to wean himself off weren't working, either
Moxley, who wrestled on an independent show the night before, took a cab to the airport that morning. He was aware Southwest Airlines didn't serve alcohol on board during this time due to the pandemic, so he headed to a bar near his gate and "got loaded" before the flight home to Las Vegas.
At that point, Moxley said he didn't feel right without alcohol in his system. He had Googled the effects of withdrawal: seizures, cardiac arrest and death. His biggest fear was one of those things happening on a flight or on national television, so he felt like he had to continue drinking to avoid tragedy. It was a vicious cycle.
"I could feel the world closing in on me," Moxley told ESPN on Wednesday.
Moxley, whose real name is Jonathan Good, arrived home to his wife, Renee Paquette, and their then-3-month-old daughter Nora in a state of exhaustion. It was Halloween night and they were supposed to take Nora out trick-or-treating. Moxley was in no shape to go out and knew this was all coming to a head. He told Paquette that he needed to go to rehab. She agreed.
While passing out candy, Moxley dialed the Desert Hope Treatment Center. Within 15 minutes, he was in an Uber and shortly after he was at the facility -- a large, 148-bed compound 4 miles east of the Las Vegas Strip. They took his phone. No one knew except Paquette.
Five months after leaving Desert Hope, Moxley will perform Sunday in the main event of Forbidden Door, a joint pay-per-view event in Chicago promoted by AEW and New Japan Pro-Wrestling. His opponent in the interim world championship match is Hiroshi Tanahashi, one of Japan's biggest wrestling stars. Moxley has taken inspiration from him and has been calling out for more than two years.
Sunday's match will feel like a culmination of events, like everything has started falling into place for Moxley. But the journey hasn't been easy and is just beginning. Moxley, 36, described his alcohol addiction as a "living hell," something that seeped into every part of his life. He resented coming to work, grew terrified of being a father and was deeply afraid of losing his life in the ring.
"To admit that he needed help -- that took more manhood than not doing it," Moxley's close friend and fellow AEW wrestler Eddie Kingston said. "To me, being vulnerable, it takes a real man to be that."
Courtesy of ESPN