WWE’s marquee summer event SummerSlam may be happening in Toronto this year, but Dallas will be represented by WWE superstar and Garland native Ember Moon, as she fights fellow WWE superstar Bayley for the Smackdown Women’s Championship match.
Moon’s rise to the position of competing for one of wrestling’s biggest titles is a testament to years of hard work. After literally fighting her way up in the independent wrestling circuit before signing to WWE’s developmental territory, NXT, Moon won the coveted NXT women’s championship title. Since joining WWE's main roster in April 2018, her seamless mixture of strength and high-flying acrobatic prowess has made her one of wrestling fans' favorite acts to watch. But Moon still feels overwhelmed about her upcoming fight.
“I’m still in disbelief this is actually happening,” Moon says of SummerSlam. “It’s crazy because I feel like at one point in time when we had the NXT championship match, I’m like, 'I’m going to wake up, I’m still going to be at home in Dallas with my parents. And I’m just going to wake up in bed.' And it’s very much that same feeling, even though I’ve been with WWE for — oh my gosh, I think it’s been almost four years or coming up on four years.”
Moon, whose real name is Adrienne Reese, was born and raised in Garland. Once she decided to pursue wrestling as a career she didn’t have to travel farther than one town over to take the first step into the business. Her career began in Mesquite, training under wrestlers General Skandar Ackbar and Action Jackson, among others. After the school in Mesquite closed, she went on to train at Professional Championship Wrestling in Arlington with New Japan Superstar Lance Hoyt. Moon says that, to this day, North Texas holds boundless opportunities for those wishing to participate in professional wrestling.
As a child, Moon struggled with reading, and she found comic books and video games assisted her in learning. Professional wrestling provided an outlet for Moon to express and support herself, she says; ultimately offering a victorious outcome to her preceding teenage years, when the same passions — wrestling, video games and comic books — brought relentless attention from school bullies.
“A really cool part of what I do is being able to be a part of our Be a Star program in WWE,” Moon says. “Which is a huge advocate for anti-bullying, so anytime I can get my hands on that, I’m just all about that. It was just like … being different, and not talking like everyone else. I feel like even then, when I was younger, I was a lone wolf so to speak. I just lived my own little life in my own little world.”
Moon’s little world has expanded, and her championship match will be viewed in front of what will most likely be a sold-out crowd at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. SummerSlam is widely recognized as the sports entertainment company’s second-largest pay-per-view of the year, coming in behind only WrestleMania.
A featured spot on such a high-profile show would add a feeling of pressure for any young performer, but the presence of a Canadian crowd, often known for being aggressively vocal about their sports-related feelings, weighs heavily on Moon’s thoughts.
“I definitely think there’s a lot of added pressure because we’re in Canada, which, they will let you know if they don’t like you,” Moon says. “They are not afraid of that, but they are some of the best fans in the world, because they are so vocal and they are so passionate.”
Moon’s optimism in the face of performing for a raucous crowd is indicative of her character. She's overcome her learning difficulties in addition to her cruel classmate's harassment, driving long nights for little pay at independent wrestling shows, and has carved a spot for herself in a male-dominated business. Moon doesn’t have time to mind the pressure — she’s too focused on writing her own legacy.
“It’s very nerve-wracking knowing that I’m in the same category as one of my favorite matches in this entire world, which was Rey Mysterio versus Kurt Angle," Moon says. “To this day I still go and watch that match to get motivated. But that was at SummerSlam and they set the tone for the entire SummerSlam that year, but it’s one of my favorite matches, and I look and aspire to have something like that — to have that match that people want to go back and watch over and over and over again.”