Wrestling & MMA

WWE NXT Ember Moon has talent, passion, drive

Ember Moon is one of the top superstars on the WWE NXT roster. NXT will be at the Havert L. Center on Friday, Oct. 14 in (South Florida) Fort Pierce.
Ember Moon is one of the top superstars on the WWE NXT roster. NXT will be at the Havert L. Center on Friday, Oct. 14 in (South Florida) Fort Pierce. WWE

Driving five hours, stick shift, in her old Acura proved how much she wanted this.

WWE NXT Superstar Ember Moon paid her dues, training with legend Skandor Akbar in Dallas and former WWE talent Lance Hoyt in Arlington, honing her skills with WWE Hall of Famer Booker T at his school/promotion in Houston and working the indies in Canada, Mexico and the United States.

She’s logged plenty of miles through her wrestling journey, and now Moon, 28, is one of the top talents on WWE’s NXT roster.

Can You Dig That

When associates with Booker T’s group, Reality of Wrestling, phoned her in 2007, she did not hesitate. ‘Yes.’

“I got the call last minute saying, ‘Hey, we want to use you on the show.’ I drove down, did the show,” Moon recalled. “It was my first time working their show.”

Also impressive, her beat-up car made it, traveling five, long hours -- two days before Christmas. It was worth the trip as she received an early gift, serving as the valet for the Usos, before becoming the Usos with WWE.

“I believe we were called Yin, Yang and Trouble,” she chuckled. “It was our very first time being together, and it was a super fun experience. [more chuckles] It was so much fun, and that’s all I can say about that.”

Moon initially trained with Akbar and then Hoyt, before joining Reality of Wrestling.

“Booker ran his school something similar to what you would see at the [WWE] Performance Center,” Moon said. “He has multiple rings. He has a gym. He has a track.”

She continued: “Booker T helped me hone-in on the high-flying aspect of who I am. I also feel like Booker T also helped me become organized and encouraged me to branch out and try to become a bigger name on the indies, which is extremely hard in a sense and even harder for women.”

Akbar, a former heel wrestler in the 1960s and 70s, was a legendary manager in the 1970s and 80s. He led the villainous stable Devastation Inc. in Bill Watts’ Universal Wrestling Federation during the promotion’s heyday in the 1980s. He also worked for the Global Wrestling Federation, Mid-South Wrestling, World Wrestling Council and World Class Championship Wrestling.

“When she trained in Dallas with Skandor Akbar, she learned the basics really well,” said Kevin Bernhardt, the TV director of Reality of Wrestling.

How did the 5-foot-2 talent land with Reality of Wrestling?

Bernhardt said: “One of our wrestlers, Jessica James, knew her [from working the indies in Texas], and she put in a word for her with Booker.”

Bernhardt is a former wrestler, who competed on the Texas indie scene, too, and he knew of her skill.

“She had a tryout at one of our [Reality of Wrestling] shows,” he noted. “Booker met her and put her on the show that night. She worked as a valet for the Usos, before they were the Usos in WWE. Then she started working events for us as a wrestler.”

Moon, known as Athena the Wrestling Goddess, in action at Reality of Wrestling.

During Legends of Wrestling Night -- hosted by MLB’s Miami Marlins -- at Marlins Park in August, Booker T told The Roman Show: “When she first came to me, she was already talented. She already had the tools. She just needed to be polished. She had the drive, the hunger and wanted to be so good. She was willing to travel miles and miles to do this and make very little money. She was already on her way, before she got [to Reality of Wrestling].”

Bernhardt added: “Booker saw something in her. When she was in town, Booker let her train for free. Booker worked with her on the TV style, the WWE style. She is a natural athlete with a good work ethic. She had it. From there, she started working outside of Texas.”

Moon wrestled in Canada, Mexico and the United States. She worked for Shimmer, Women Superstars Uncensored, Anarchy Championship Wrestling and more. She is a three-time ACW American Joshi Champion.

Booker T said: “Now she is getting her chance [with NXT] to show the world what she is really all about, and I think she’s going to do a great job.”

Texas Gal

Born in Dallas, the athletic Moon was raised in Garland.

“It’s a very small town outside of Dallas, kind of suburban, kind of rural,” said Moon, who starred in soccer.

“I played soccer all the way up to college, but I was very intrigued with all sorts of sports.”

Moon excelled in soccer, softball and tennis at Lakeview Centennial High School. Go Patriots.

She said: “Basically anything that involved running I was for.”

Moon was a forward and keeper for the Eastfield College women’s soccer team, a community college program in Mesquite, a suburb of Dallas. That’s where her soccer career ended.

Though, were there aspirations of competing for the U.S. women’s national soccer team?

“Yea, there were. I played for select teams [top age group travel soccer teams],” she answered. “When I was 15, I was asked to be considered to go the Olympic Training Center, but the older I got, I grew out of it. I realized that I genuinely loved wrestling. It’s something that I always watched. It’s something I just loved, and it was always there in my life. I just figured this is what I really want to do.

Moon then attended the University of Texas at Arlington where she concentrated on her academia.

“I did at one point in time want to go play [soccer] in Liverpool, when they came out with a women’s league,” she said. “I had no clue how I was going to get there, but that was a young dream [laughs] that I had.”

Watching, Training, Wrestling

Growing up, Moon enjoyed watching Too Cool, The Rock, Funaki, Taka Michinoku, Tajiri, William Regal, Chris Jericho, Victoria, Trish Stratus, Lita, Ivory and more.

“There’s just too many to name them all,” she said. “All of them were so entertaining, and I loved it.”

Moon remembers, as an 11-year-old, using the ole dial-up on the Internet to search wrestling schools.

“I really thought I could do this, especially since I had a huge athletic background with soccer, softball and gymnastics, too,” she said. “It was something I knew I could be really good at.”

While attending college is when she actually pursued her wrestling career.

“I started training when I was 18-years-old,” she said. “I found this school in Texas, and I jumped into it head first.”

That’s where she found Skandor Akbar, a legend of Texas wrestling.

“He was my wrestling dad,” she said. “He taught me so much. He was a hard trainer, and he pushed me to my limit. His teachings have stayed with me to this very day. I’m so happy and so grateful to have had him in my career and so thankful to say Skandor Akbar trained me. It’s like a medal that I wear on my shirt.”

Her next stop, Professional Championship Wrestling in Arlington, Texas, where she learned from Lance Hoyt.

She met wrestler Jessica James on the Texas indies, and they became friends. James, who was trained by Booker T, introduced her to the WWE Hall of Famer.

“I went to Booker. I had the tryout. I made the cut, and I started working and training with Booker T.”

Reality of Wrestling

TwitterRealityofWrestling

http://www.realityofwrestling.com/

Ember On Fire

The meaning behind the name Ember Moon

“Ember is the last thing that comes with a flame. It’s the part that is so hard to die down, that can combust at any moment,” she explained. “The moon is so cool. It changes faces all the time. So basically my name means something that is undying and ever changing.”

To birth Ember Moon, she signed with WWE in August 2015, assigned to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando.

Talk about not giving up, she continued to work toward her goal.

“When I was 18, I had my very first tryout for WWE,” she said. “I had another tryout, when I was 19, and another tryout when I was 20. After that didn’t go the way I wanted it to, I decided I was going to make them want me, and that’s exactly what I did. I traveled all around the world and made a name for myself on the indies.

“So when I tried out again and they saw all the experience that I had -- eight years later seeing me for the fourth time -- and they saw all the potential that I had, they saw something special in me.”

Grandpa knows best

That big break meant so much to Moon, professionally and personally.

“My grandfather [George] means the world to me,” she said with emotion. “Wrestling was very big to him. He was living in a very small, country town, where everyone knew everybody. Wrestling was kind of like religion there [she chuckled]. ‘Oh man, if this guy doesn’t win, were going to...’ Everybody would go outside and talk about it.

“So grandpa was very much into wrestling. At that time, when I was young, I didn’t understand. When I got older, I started appreciating the emotional value that he put into wrestling. It very much reflected back on me.

“He was the one who initially told me that if I really want to become a wrestler, I could do it. He knew that I could be here. I remember looking at him, thinking, ‘Ha, Ha, you’re funny,’ but when he passed away, that stuck with me, and when I finally took that leap, it was because of him. It was because he believed in me.”

She made her NXT in–ring debut at an NXT live event in Oct. 10, 2015 in a tag team match. At NXT TakeOver: The End on June 8, 2016, she defeated Peyton Royce during a dark match, in which she debuted her new character, Ember Moon. After a series of introductory vignettes, Moon debuted at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II on Aug. 20, 2016 where she defeated Billie Kay.

“When I got the non-televised match with Peyton Royce at [NXT] TakeOver: The End, it was a huge shock to me,” she said. “I was completely blind-sided by it. Not only do they have faith in me to start the show, but they also have enough faith in me to put me in [NXT] TakeOver: Brooklyn [II] as well.”

She added: “I was so excited and so pumped, because I never had that faith instilled in me on the indies. As hard as I worked and as much as I traveled and the crazy stuff I did on the indies, they didn’t have faith in what I can do, but WWE saw something special in me and saw that I can do special things. I’m eternally grateful to WWE. I’m so excited, and it’s not going to stop either.”

Moon 2, Aussies 0

Beating Royce and Kay, two Australian-born talents, makes Moon 2-0 at NXT TakeOver events.

“Their fierce competitors in the ring,” Moon said. “You have Peyton Royce and those spin kicks, and you have Billie Kay who boots people into next year. There’s a lot to worry about when you’re standing in the opposite corner of them in the ring.”

It’s all about The Game of Thrones

Bernhardt, who remains friends with Moon, shared some insight on her away from the ring.

“She’s great,” he said. “She’s a comic book person, loves comics...She’s just a nerd at heart.”

An avid Dungeons & Dragons player who enjoys wearing a Batman T-shirt, Moon noted, “I became heavily influenced by Game of Thrones with the book. When the show came along, I was all about that life, too, but there is one character who I loved in the book, and his name was Patchface. He’s a minor character who popped up.

“He’s the jester, fool character, playmate for Stannis’s daughter [Shireen Baratheon] in the book, but the cool thing about him is that he always speaks in tongues, and he’s very witty and been known to prophesy. That’s one thing that I absolutely love, the whole prophesy thing, being destined for something, because I do believe that everyone has a destiny. As long as you’re willing to rise to that challenge, you can make anything happen.”

And Ember Moon is proving that.

TwitterEmberMoon

- NXT in Fort Pierce

Because of the hurricane, WWE's NXT show on Saturday, Oct. 8 at the Havert L. Fenn Center in (South Florida) Fort Pierce is rescheduled for Friday, Oct. 14.

The Havert L. Fenn Center served as a shelter.

On Oct. 14, see some of the newer faces on the NXT roster as well as progressing talent who are continuing to build a hot NXT brand and working toward joining the ranks of the main roster in WWE.

There will be a pre-show meet-n-greet around ringside included in the price of admission

Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Bell time is 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: General Admission $10; Gold Circle (Ringside) $20.

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- NXT on WWE Network

WWE NXT is 8 p.m. Wednesdays on WWE Network.

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- NXT abroad

To see NXT in a city near you, check

www.wwe.com/events

- NXT Toronto

NXT TakeOver: Toronto is Saturday, Nov. 19 at the Air Canada Centre, the night before WWE’s Survivor Series at the same venue.

Tickets for Survivor Series weekend events can be purchased through

www.Ticketmaster.ca, or by calling 855-985-5000.

- NXT/WrestleMania 33 Orlando

WWE WrestleMania 33 is Sunday, April 2, 2017 at Camping World Stadium, formerly Citrus Bowl Stadium, in Orlando. During WrestleMania Week, WWE NXT is Friday, March 31 at the Amway Center, home of the NBA Orlando Magic.

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