Good began working for Les Thatcher at the Heartland Wrestling Association (HWA) as a teenager; he sold popcorn and set up the ring before beginning to train as a professional wrestler under Thatcher and Cody Hawk. Using the ring name Jon Moxley, he made his debut in June 2004. Less than a year into his career, Moxley teamed up with Jimmy Turner as Necessary Roughness, and on May 11, 2005, they defeated the team of Extreme Desire (Mike Desire and Tack) to win the HWA Tag Team Championship. After Quinten Lee and Ala Hussein, who made up the team Foreign Intelligence, beat Necessary Roughness for the HWA Tag Team Championship, Moxley started teaming with Ric Byrne in a team known as Heartland Foundation. They beat Foreign Intelligence for the title on August 19, 2005, but were stripped of the championship for unknown reasons the same day.
In 2006, Moxley started challenging for the HWA Heavyweight Championship. He assembled a stable called The Crew which over time had wrestlers like Sami Callihan, Dick Rick, Eric Darkside, and Pepper Parks. On May 9, 2006, he beat Pepper Parks to win the HWA Heavyweight Championship, and held the title for more than four months until he dropped it to Chad Collyer on September 12. Moxley regained the HWA Heavyweight Championship on December 30, by again defeating Parks. Three days later, on January 2, 2007, he lost the title to Brian Jennings.
Moxley returned to the tag team division when he teamed up with his former trainer Cody Hawk. On June 12, 2007, Moxley and Hawk defeated Tack and Tarek the Legend to win the HWA Tag Team Championship. Moxley and Hawk's reign only lasted four days as Andre Heart and Richard Phillips, collectively known as GP Code, beat them for the title. Moxley continued to work in the tag team division for the rest of 2007 through early 2010. In 2009, Moxley started teaming up with rival King Vu in a team known as Royal Violence. They captured the HWA Tag Team Championship twice while teaming together. The first time they captured the title was on October 14, when they beat the Kosher Klub. They held the title until December 2 when they were beaten by Irish Airborne (Dave and Jake Crist). Just over two weeks later, Royal Violence regained the HWA Tag Team Championships as they beat Irish Airborne on December 19.
While still one half of the HWA Tag Team Champions with King Vu, Moxley captured the HWA Heavyweight Championship for a third time. On January 6, 2010, he successfully cashed in his "Pick Your Poison" title shot against Aaron Williams. King Vu then turned on Moxley, costing them the HWA Tag Team Championship. On February 24, the Noble Bloods (Lord Matthew Taylor and Sir Chadwick Cruise) defeated Royal Violence for the titles. On July 14, Moxley lost the HWA Heavyweight Championship to Gerome Phillips.
Insanity Pro Wrestling (2007–2011)
After Moxley's successful defense of the IPW World Heavyweight Championship against Aaron Williams at IPW "Desperate Measures" on June 5, 2010, Jimmy Jacobs attacked Moxley causing the locker room to come out and separate them both. Moxley wondered why Jacobs attacked him, then both proceeded to have a war of words with each other in the back. On August 21, at IPW 9th Anniversary: Reign of the Insane, Moxley defeated Jacobs to successfully retain the IPW World Heavyweight Championship. On October 2, 2010 at Shocktoberfest Moxley defeated Drake Younger in a three stages of Insanity match to successfully retain the IPW World Heavyweight Championship. On January 1, 2011 at Showdown In Naptown Moxley lost the IPW World Heavyweight Championship to Jimmy Jacobs in a dog collar match due to referee stoppage.
Moxley started working for Dragon Gate USA (DGUSA) in 2009, and on November 28, he defeated B-Boy via submission in a dark match. Moxley continued to work for Dragon Gate USA in 2010, and on January 23, he defeated Darin Corbin in a dark match. Later that night, he attacked Lacey until Tommy Dreamer made the save. Moxley then teamed up with Brian Kendrick on March 26 in a match against Paul London and Jimmy Jacobs in which Moxley and Kendrick won. Following the match Kendrick and London put Moxley through a table. On March 27, Moxley made his pay-per-view debut with Dragon Gate USA in Phoenix, Arizona, facing Dreamer in a hardcore match taped for Mercury Rising, which Moxley won. At the May 8 Uprising pay-per-view taping in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada Moxley suffered an injury where his left nipple was nearly severed during a match with Jimmy Jacobs.
Moxley competed in two matches for Ring of Honor in 2007. On February 23, Moxley teamed with Alex Payne in a losing effort against Bobby Dempsey and Rhett Titus in a dark match. On June 22, Moxley lost to Mitch Franklin also in a dark match.
Moxley made his Evolve debut at Evolve 3: Rise or Fall on May 1, 2010, losing to Drake Younger. On July 23, Moxley fought Brodie Lee to a double disqualification at Evolve 4: Danielson vs Fish. At Evolve 6: Aries vs. Taylor on November 10, 2010, Moxley defeated Homicide in a Relaxed Rules match after the referee called for the bell. On April 19, 2011, Moxley wrestled his Evolve farewell match, facing Austin Aries in a losing effort. That put his Evolve record at 1–2–1.
He made his debut for Jersey All Pro Wrestling (JAPW) on October 23, 2010 at Halloween Hell in which he defeated Devon Moore. On February 5, 2011, JAPW debuted in South River, New Jersey. At this event, Moxley became the newest member of the United States Death Machine.
Dean Ambrose yells at fans during an NXT event in October 2012
Ambrose made his televised debut on the July 3 episode of FCW television, where he challenged Seth Rollins, another prominent independent wrestler. Ambrose and Rollins had their first match for the FCW 15 Championship in a 15 minute Iron Man match on the August 14 episode of FCW television; the match ended in a draw with neither man scoring a fall, so Rollins retained his title. A subsequent 20 minute rematch for the title two weeks later resulted in a similar 0–0 draw. A second 30 minute rematch for the title on the September 18 episode of FCW television went to a time limit 2–2 draw and the match was sent into sudden death rules, where Rollins scored a pinfall to win the match 3–2. Of note, an entire episode of FCW TV was dedicated to hyping and showing the third match in the series. Ambrose finally beat Rollins in a non-title match in the first round of the Super Eight Tournament to crown the new FCW Florida Heavyweight Champion. However, Ambrose was unsuccessful in the tournament final as Leo Kruger won the fatal four-way match. Ambrose also cost Rollins his FCW 15 title by attacking Damien Sandow during his title match with Rollins, causing a disqualification in the deciding fall. Ambrose then unsuccessfully challenged Sandow for the FCW 15 title, before Leakee trumped both Ambrose and Rollins during a triple threat match to determine the number one contender to the FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship.
At an FCW house show on October 21, Ambrose challenged WWE wrestler CM Punk, who was making a guest appearance, to a match; Punk accepted and defeated Ambrose in a 30 minute match, and later paid tribute to Ambrose. Ambrose's behind-the-back attack on WWE wrestler and FCW commentator William Regal set up a match between the two on the November 6 episode of FCW television, where Regal pinned Ambrose to win the match. Following the loss to Regal, Ambrose became obsessed about wanting a rematch and regularly taunted Regal by using Regal's finishing moves to win matches. Ambrose started appearing at WWE house shows from December 2011.
At WrestleMania XXVIIIAxxess, Ambrose had a confrontation with veteran hardcore wrestlerMick Foley, claiming that Foley needed to be held accountable for leading a generation astray. Ambrose continued his verbal assault on Foley through Twitter and WWE reacted by "sending Ambrose home" from the SmackDown taping. Ambrose challenged old nemesis Seth Rollins for the FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship on the June 24 episode of FCW TV, but Rollins defeated him. Ambrose finally received a rematch with William Regal on the final episode of FCW television on July 15, which ended in a no contest when Ambrose kneed Regal's head into an exposed turnbuckle, causing Regal to bleed from the ear. After the match, Regal applauded Ambrose and allowed Ambrose to hit him with the "Knee Trembler". Afterward, the FCW locker room stormed the ring to separate Ambrose from a fallen Regal while commentators questioned whether Regal would ever be able to wrestle again.
The Shield then quietly ended their association with Punk while a feud with John Cena, Ryback, and Sheamus led to a six-man tag match on February 17 at Elimination Chamber, which the Shield won. The Shield had their first match on Raw the following night, where they defeated Chris Jericho, Ryback, and Sheamus. They continued to feud with Sheamus, who formed an alliance with Randy Orton and Big Show, and at WrestleMania 29, The Shield defeated the trio in their first WrestleMania match. The following night on Raw, The Shield attempted to attack The Undertaker but were stopped by Team Hell No. This set up a six-man tag team match on the April 22 episode of Raw, where The Shield emerged victorious. Four days later on SmackDown, Ambrose made his singles debut against The Undertaker but lost via submission, after which The Shield attacked Undertaker and triple-powerbombed him through the announcer's table. On the April 29 episode of Raw, The Shield defeated Team Hell No and WWE Champion John Cena in a six-man tag team match. Later that week, Ambrose picked up his first singles victory by defeating Kane in a singles match on SmackDown.
Ambrose in attendance at a WWE live event in Adelaide, South Australia.
While The Shield continued to feud with Team Hell No, Ambrose simultaenously entered a storyline feud with the WWE United States ChampionKofi Kingston. Ambrose pinned Kingston to earn victory in a six-man tag team match, and was attacked by Kingston several days later following a singles win over Daniel Bryan. On the May 13 episode of Raw, The Shield's undefeated streak in televised six-man tag team matches ended in a disqualification loss in an elimination match against Cena, Kane, and Bryan, when Ambrose was disqualified as Reigns and Rollins attacked Cena. On May 19 at Extreme Rules, Ambrose defeated Kofi Kingston to win the United States Championship, his first singles title in WWE. Ambrose made his first televised title defense on the following episode of SmackDown, retaining his title by disqualification as the rest of The Shield interfered, and retained again against Kingston on Raw the next week. On the June 14 episode of SmackDown, The Shield's unpinned/unsubmitted streak in televised six-man tag team matches ended at the hands of Team Hell No and Randy Orton, when Daniel Bryan submitted Rollins. Three days later at WWE Payback, Ambrose defeated Kane via countout to retain the United States Championship, and successfully defended the championship against Kane the following night, when he won by disqualification. On July 14 at Money in the Bank, Ambrose competed in the World Heavyweight ChampionshipMoney in the Bank ladder match, but failed to win the match despite interference from Reigns and Rollins. Ambrose retained his United States Championship at SummerSlam by disqualification against Rob Van Dam. In August, The Shield began working for chief operating officerTriple H and The Authority, while Ambrose began a feud with Dolph Ziggler, against whom he successfully defended the title at the Night of Champions pay-per-view and on both SmackDown and Main Event in September and October. On October 27 at Hell in a Cell, Ambrose lost to Big E Langston by countout, but retained his title.
Tension began brewing among The Shield in October, especially between Ambrose and Reigns as Ambrose was the only member left with a championship. At Survivor Series, The Shield participated in a traditional Survivor Series match; Ambrose was the first man eliminated while Reigns won the match as the sole survivor. At TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, CM Punk defeated The Shield in a handicap match after Ambrose received a Reigns spear aimed for Punk. At the Royal Rumble, The Shield participated in the Rumble match; Ambrose eliminated three wrestlers and tried to eliminate Reigns, who retaliated by eliminating both Ambrose and Rollins. In February 2014, Ambrose retained the championship against Mark Henry with a disqualification loss; a rematch in March yielded a pinfall victory for Ambrose. Also in February, The Shield lost to The Wyatt Family at Elimination Chamber with Ambrose absent during the finish of the match. Despite more tension, The Shield reconciled in March.
Ambrose (right) posing with Rollins and Reigns in May 2014.
Later in March, The Shield began a feud with Kane, turning them into fan favorite characters, and resulting in The Shield defeating Kane and The New Age Outlaws at WrestleMania XXX. The Shield next turned on Triple H, who reformed Evolution with Batista and Randy Orton to take on The Shield. On April 28, Ambrose surpassed Montel Vontavious Porter as the longest reigning United States Champion under the WWE banner. On the May 2 episode of SmackDown, Ambrose retained his title in a four-way match against Alberto Del Rio, Curtis Axel, and Ryback. As part of their feud with Evolution, The Shield won a six-man tag team match at Extreme Rules. The following night on Raw, Triple H forced Ambrose to defend his championship in a 20-man battle royal with Rollins and Reigns not part of the match; Ambrose survived until the final two but lost to Sheamus, ending Ambrose's record title reign at 351 days. On the next SmackDown, Ambrose failed to regain the championship in a singles match against Sheamus. The Shield once again defeated Evolution at Payback, prompting Triple H to initiate "Plan B". This involved Rollins turning on Ambrose and Reigns, subsequently aligning himself with Triple H.
Ambrose promptly began feuding with Rollins, which included Rollins costing Ambrose a spot in the Money in the Bank ladder match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Money in the Bank and the duo attacking each other. As Ambrose and Reigns quietly separated, Ambrose debuted new ring attire and new entrance music. After being added to the Money in the Bank ladder match at Money in the Bank at Rollins' request, Ambrose lost the match when Kane attacked him and helped Rollins win. Ambrose was scheduled to face Rollins at Battleground, but Ambrose was ejected from the arena by Triple H. Rollins subsequently announced he had won their match by forfeit, prompting Ambrose to attack Rollins. Ambrose and Rollins eventually fought at SummerSlam in a Lumberjack match, which Ambrose lost. Ambrose attacked Rollins again the following, causing them to face off in a Falls Count Anywhere match. Rollins won by knockout when Ambrose was attacked by Kane and stretchered out of the arena. The storyline was put to place to explain Ambrose's absence from television while filming Lockdown. He returned at Night of Champions on September 21, attacking Rollins.
Much of Good's wrestling persona is based on his own real-life upbringing on Cincinnati's East End, where he spent much of his childhood in public housing. An avid wrestling fan who idolized Bret Hart as a child, he used wrestling as an escape from his rough upbringing by immersing himself in wrestling videotapes and reading stories about wrestling's earlier days. A year after beginning to train as a wrestler, he dropped out of high school.