It sounds all too familiar and resonates well among many TNA followers. What’s that you ask? It’s the footsteps of another franchise wrestler walking away from the company. How can Dixie Carter let Samoa Joe leave? How will his void be filled? These are the similar questions we all asked ourselves when A.J Styles decided to get up and do the same thing. Samoa Joe is known as being one of the hardest workers in the wrestling world. He is a perfectionist at the sport he loves to contribute to, which is why there are so many, including his peers in disbelief.
Samoa Joe is a household name that brings respect and talent to whatever federation he represents. He is a special kind of talent based on his size and in-ring ability. His has had a sensational career up to this point rounding out his accolades from TNA, Japan, and ROH. Before debuting in TNA in June 2005, Joe competed in Ring of Honor (ROH), where he held the ROH World Championship for a record 21 months. Throughout his career, he has won numerous championships, including a dozen between ROH, TNA, and Japan. He’s held the following titles:
- ROH World Championship
- ROH Pure Championship
- TNA World Heavyweight Championship
- X Division Championship (5X)
- TNA World Tag Team Championships (2X)
- TNA Television Championship
- Japanese GHC Tag Team Champion
- 2005 Super X Cup Tournament
- 2008 King of the Mountain match (the only one to retain the world championship in the match)
- TNA Triple Crown
- TNA Grand Slam
We are talking about an extremely accomplished wrestler and one who is now looking for a new adventure. So why would he walk away? What were his contractual demands? The only people who will ever know the truth are Joe and Dixie, so let’s put all the speculations to rest and come to grips with what happens next.
Well, as much as it pains me to elaborate, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t bring up the WWE factor. It seems like every time a wrestler leaves each perspective company, the other alliance gets mentioned. If we look at Joe’s complete body of work and understand that at the age of 35 (36 on March 17) he still is primed for a notorious run, you would think it is a no brainer. Well, think again.
As much as I can envision Joe entering an arena for Monday Night Raw, I highly doubt it will happen. The same questions of utilization, character and schedule all come into play. Let’s not forget that one of the main reasons why so many wrestlers walk away from the WWE is the amount of time spent on the road and working throughout the year. TNA does not have the same demands of a fulltime WWE schedule and only superstars such as Brock Lesnar and The Rock usually warrant special consideration from following the same guidelines. Unfortunately, as much as my inner fan would love to see Samoa Joe in a WWE Ring, the professional side of me knows that it’s a long shot.
Could his plan be to wait it out and see what the WWE is all about? Could he be primed to be the man who puts an end to the streak of Rusev? Or would the WWE make him into be an embarrassment of character just like they did with the last Japanese traditionalist in Tensai? Vince and his creative team have a genius way of taking good gimmicks from other federations and turning them into borderline comics inside their own arena. I would hate to see that happen to Samoa Joe.
Another example of this notion is Bubba Ray. In the WWE, he was seen as part of a historical and electric tag team, but overall as a gimmick wrestler that everyone looked at as the goofy boy in the lunch room. In TNA, Bully Ray was seen as a franchise leading World Champion who would be headlining the biggest PPV’s and live event during the course of the year. Now this is what I call a huge difference in creative vision.
We could also look at the positive side of things and see an epic battle of big men with strength, charisma and ability in Joe and Kevin Owens. If you even throw Bray Wyatt into to the mix we could have 3 impactful wrestlers that could put on a great show and give the fans something to be excited about. I know it’s a stretch, but this triple threat could keep the WWE interest level at its highest point since we had The Rock, Stone Cold, and Triple H all in their prime. Obviously, these guys aren’t on that level, but in this era they could be the best thing going today.
Well, now that the dream is over let’s talk reality. Vince or Triple H do not think highly of any wrestler from the WCW/TNA mold, which is why that crazy notion of Samoa Joe being offered a tryout on NXT is not a complete joke, but a slap in the face of a wrestler that could come in and instantly be better than 90% of their current roster. So the odds are that ROH battles and internet matches are in the near future for “The Samoan Submission Machine.” This isn’t want most WWE fans want to hear, but for the reputation and image of Samoa Joe, it may be the next best thing!
Tony Cutillo (@TCutillo23)