Former WWE and NXT Superstar Ember Moon was released by the company on November 4, 2021, after appearing intermittently on WWE’s NXT developmental brand.
Moon, now known as Athena, previously performed on the Gold and Black label, between September 2015 and April 2018, before joining the Monday night gross list after Wrestle Mania 34. She then returned to NXT at Takeover 31 in October 2020 and would continue to appear sporadically over the next 12 months.
In an interview with Chris Van Vliet, Moon would go into great detail about how she was treated and her feelings around the last stint of her WWE tenure. Moon would detail how the last 4 months of his time with the company and what he was being told were particularly difficult.
“My last four months have been just one of those times when I was not having fun anymore. It started with Shotzi leaving and getting drafted,” Ember said. “I remember thinking – I was sitting at home and I got a phone call saying, ‘Hey, we don’t want you to be upset, but Shotzi just got moved to SmackDown and she’s making her debut. with Tegan Nox as a team. I was sitting there and I get this phone call about her draft, “Oh my god, I’m so happy for her”, and then the tag team thing came up and I was like, “but we’re the tag team and we have merchandise and we do fun things and we just got into the groove with the banter. They were like, ‘Don’t worry, we’ve got something for you.’ “Okay, cool.” I remember going to see Hunter and he was like, ‘I have no idea what’s going on, we’re going to find out together.’
Moon was particularly open about the political culture and environment created behind the scenes at WWE, and how she felt compelled to act.
“The problem I had was that some of these new writers came from Raw and Smack down, “we had no idea you and Shotzi were a tag team.” A lot of WWE backstage must play the game,” Moon said. “‘It’s cool, we get it, we’re in NXT. It’s not like we were on the front page (of the website) when we won the titles. It’s fine, yeah. You just have to eat the shit sandwich and smiling often with the shit in your teeth. It’s about not making waves.
After her tag team with Shotzi Blackheart disbanded, Moon worked with NXT leader Triple H and staff to steer her career in a new direction.
“I, hunter [Triple H], and the head writer at the time offered to do a heel turn with me because it was new and different. During this process, we wanted to go on a losing streak. It was my thought. I see new faces coming in and part of my job at NXT was helping new talent on TV. I love this job so much that it didn’t bother me. Let me go on a losing streak, let me get frustrated and let me spin. ‘It’s a good idea. Then the first game happened and I didn’t televise for four weeks. “Don’t worry, we have that.” Then Hunter disappeared.
Following this, Moon was scheduled to fight Sarray on the August 10, 2021, episode of NXT, but was pulled from the fight due to illness. Ambiguity over his role and direction in the company continued to grow, with mixed messages delivered by WWE coaches.
“One of the head coaches says, ‘Will you do me a favor and work 205 live with Cora Jade. We love her, she’s a sweet girl, we think it’ll be a fun match, you two are in the main event. Cool, sounds good, I’ll never say no to a game on TV, no matter where it’s airing. We have a fun one game banger. They go, ‘you shoot in this match, but we want to make it subtle.’ They sort of turned me, but they don’t, there was confusion about what would happen.
Things seemed to pick up steam after that, after facing Mandy Rose on NXT TV, Moon was given clear instructions regarding what she hoped would become a clear creative path.
“Then, off TV for three weeks, I have the game with Mandy and they’re like, ‘We’re finally pulling the trigger. I get a note that week saying, “In two weeks we need you to dye your hair color again, get the contacts red, you’re back to the old character of Ember Moon. It’s by Vince. You will turn heel, but turn heel like your old character. We try to collect old music and all that. Alright, great, that’s great.
Upon returning to television with his new look, Moon would work with NXT lead writer Ryan Katz to produce new content for his character, but unfortunately continued to face roadblocks and political decisions, out of of his control.
“I show up on TV, I’m motivated, I just had to wait. Ryan Katz and I went to film a demo of the vibe I wanted. When I come back, I prepare the video, I’m ready to show everyone after the TV and they say, ‘Hey, we have bad news. Vince is taking you off television indefinitely. I just sat there and thought, ‘What did I do wrong?’ ‘You haven’t done anything wrong.’ “I did everything you asked of me, I went above and beyond.” I diversified,” she added.
This would prove to be one of the final straws for Moon and her decision to leave WWE, as she would detail her unhappiness with some of the changes being implemented and the things female talent was being asked to do.
“I remember going to my makeup artist and saying, ‘I’m so unhappy.’ We had to go to stupid meetings about how we should dress sexy. I remember looking at someone else (and laughing). I take care of the kids. I’m not sure the point of wearing fishnet shorts because we had a two hour meeting on how to dress like Mandy Rose. It’s not fair. Mandy is absolutely phenomenal and an amazing person, but not everyone is isn’t Mandy Rose. I started seeing that downward slope as soon as Hunter was gone.
“For the first time we didn’t know why, we just knew he wasn’t there. I was so angry. I was sitting there thinking, ‘I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t upset Vince. They take Shotzi away, Hunter is gone. “You promised me this wouldn’t happen. You promised I wouldn’t be lost in the shuffle. I continued this losing streak to help you and develop other talents so I could get a reward “, she recalls.
WWE and NXT would try to assuage Moon’s obvious upset, offering her lesser roles within the company, which would only add to Ember’s anger and upset.
“They said, ‘We still want you to come and help the next generation, maybe teach a class, do PC lives.’ I’m like, ‘Are you taking me off TV and trying to make me a coach?’ I remember laughing ‘If I’ve done nothing wrong you can cancel all my flights, I’m not coming to help these people who don’t care what I’m doing. paycheck hitting their bank account. They’re not passionate like me. I’m not going to come here and help these people who don’t care what we’re doing when there’s no benefit to me, while I did nothing wrong and I gave you my entire right side of my body, between my elbow surgery and my Achilles tendon surgery. I gave you my entire side, with no reward, no even a thank you.
“You want me to coach and quit TV to coach?” I remember sitting there, I had tears in my eyes and I said, ‘I’m not coming here to coach or do PC shows. I was supposed to come to NXT to repackage and return to the main roster. It was supposed to be within the year, but I’m still here,” Moon added. ” I’m going home. Cancel all my flights, cancel all my hotels, if you have a flight there and you don’t have a design for me, I’m not taking the flight. I don’t do that anymore because I’m going to crack. It will either be on you or on a talent. I’m going to go home. If you need me there and you have something for me, even then I have to approve the creation before taking the flight”.
Moon continued to elaborate on the struggles she had mentally faced in the months leading up to this point, and almost the relief she felt that she had finally expressed those feelings.
“I remember thinking, ‘I think I just quit.’ For three months I had said, “I think I’m going to quit today. Then I did, I think. I got really small and quiet – I was screaming because I was so angry.” The worst part of it all was that I knew that on some level I was leaving, I had already gone and got an extra bag and kept it in the locker room so I could pack my things and leave” .
Moon would finally expand on the cultural shift that occurred once Triple H stepped down from his role and the new dynamic that was building between female talent.
“I was so upset and I could see where it was going between the buttcheek meeting and them telling the girls to change their gear to make it more revealing. Some people were very uncomfortable with that and they were like, ‘No, that’s what they want, you have to do it.’ It didn’t matter how that person felt. It’s not what I signed up for anymore. It’s not about wrestling or the art that we create in the ring. It turns into whatever I want. left on Raw and SmackDown.
“The pity parts started forming in the locker room, the jealousy, the meanness, ‘why is that person on TV.’ I’m just sitting there like, ‘I’m an adult, I can’t handle this high school b ——-‘ but being like ‘Guys, it’s okay and I’ll be that locker room manager because if I don’t didn’t do it, it would go into the negative zone and nobody could have any type of positivity and everyone would hate the job that we all worked so hard for, ”she said.
Since leaving WWE, Moon has made many notable appearances on independent shows, including winning the Warrior Wrestling Women’s Championship last weekend.
You can watch the full interview below. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Insight with Chris Van Vliet, with ah/t to Wrestling Inc. for transcription
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