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Joe"s talent for agree wrestling walk far past just his physicality, though. He has actually a spicy mind for the business side of pro wrestling, a keen grasp of his own worth together a performer, and a riches of understanding that he"s passed down to younger wrestlers. Together a result, his career has actually been a journey that"s really different from the roadway to in-ring call that most other wrestlers have actually taken, native the legit judo background the led him virtually accidentally come the world of pro wrestling, to gift the target of one of the goofiest promos ever before filmed. Here"s the truth behind Samoa Joe.
On April 7, 2019, Samoa Joe do his an initial appearance at WrestleMania, WWE"s biggest occasion of the year, properly defending the United says Championship against luchador legend Rey Mysterio in former of a substantial crowd the 85,000 people. For many wrestlers, that sort of crowd dimension would it is in intimidating, yet for Joe, that might"ve seemed favor it was just an additional day at the office. After ~ all, he"d perform in prior of a enlarge audience before.
That happened ago in 1984 when Joe — then simply a 5-year-old Joe Seanoa — to be a component of the family business. His parents, Pete and also Portia, had started a Polynesian dance firm called Tiare Productions every the method back in 1965. Back then Pete was working as a Polynesian dancer in ~ Disneyland, a career the wound increase lasting 28 years. The dancing was an extension of his family"s desire to maintain a connection to your roots after ~ Pete emigrated come California. That desire, and the family"s increase to fame as entertainers, likewise led to him carving authentic tikis for screen in the Lion nation Safari park and, as soon as the park closeup of the door down, displaying lock in his very own front garden in Huntington Beach. Through 1984, Tiare Productions was large enough that as soon as the Summer Olympics concerned Los Angeles, lock performed as part of the opened ceremonies, dancing in Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for a group of over 93,000.
Joe"s career, the course, would go in a little bit of a different direction, however he definitely kept up v the craft between bouts in the ring, and also even brought the family business with him come the civilization of agree wrestling. In 2005, TNA"s first-ever Bound for Glory — their rather smaller-scale tantamount to WrestleMania — opened with an entrance that contained Joe dancing through his family"s troupe prior to taking on, and defeating, Japanese legend Jushin Thunder Liger.
The reality that Samoa Joe"s household has a long and also prominent background in the civilization of Polynesian run is significant for a reason that goes beyond their success in the arena, and also into a typical misconception amongst some wrestles fans around Joe"s origins. He"s generally mistaken because that being a member the the Anoa"i family, a prominent but completely different Samoan family.
That can sound favor a straightforward example of the sort of casual racism the leads world to think the all members that a details ethnic group are connected — and it is — yet to be totally fair come those mistaken fans, the presumption isn"t totally baseless. Phone call the Anoa"i family prominent is underselling things quite a bit: they"re among the most prolific wrestling dynasties — if no the many prolific — the the business has ever seen. The extended family includes a staggering number of wrestlers, including brothers Afa and Sika, known in WWF together the Wild Samoans, along with former WWF Champion Yokozuna, Umaga, Rosey, WWE hall of Famer Rikishi, multiple-time WWE tag Team champions Jey and Jimmy Uso, two-time Women"s Champion Naomi (via marriage to Jimmy Uso), Sam Fatu (who wrestled together "The Samoan Savage" in WCW), and also three-time WWE Champion — and also one the the company"s biggest present stars — Roman Reigns. Also, according to WWE and other sources, Afa and also Sika"s father taken into consideration "The High Chief" Peter Maivia to it is in a "blood brother," an interpretation that their prolonged family likewise includes him, his son-in-law Rocky Johnson, and his grandson, who wrestled because that a while together Rocky Maivia before ending up being the biggest movie star in the human being under his actual name, Dwayne Johnson. And those are just the Anoa"i family members members you"ve heard of on TV.
The family members does not, however, incorporate Samoa Joe, a fact that the joked around on an illustration of the Notsam rings podcast, telling host Sam Roberts, "I"m certain if friend ask any type of of mine cousins if they"re regarded the Rock, they"d be like, "Oh, the Rock? Yeah, you average Dwayne? Oh, DJ? Oh, you"re talking around DJ, we contact him DJ."" Still, it"s a good lesson because that fans around stereotypes and making assumptions.
Once you recognize that he didn"t have the family link to the business, you might start wondering how Joe do his way to a career in pro wrestling. The answer? It sort of occurred by accident.
One the the factors that Joe"s layout has such an sheet of hard-hitting realism come it is the he has actually a strong background in martial arts, win the California State small Judo Championships together a teenager and going on together an adult to train through UFC Champion Bas Rutten, among others. In between those 2 events, though, Joe was functioning as a mortgage broker in the early 2000s, a job that could actually be the precise opposite of combined martial arts. In one interview top top the arts of wrestling podcast, Joe talked around how he called up a gym in California at some point in order come get ago to training, feather to take up Jiu-Jitsu. After informing the gym owner the he was just looking to work-related up a sweat, he was told the if he was really looking for an extreme workout, he have to stick approximately after the Jiu-Jitsu class for "when the pro wrestling males come in."
Needless come say, he take it the owner"s advice, and also found a entirety lot more than an extreme workout. Joe"s background, athleticism, and dedication to putting in the work gave him a knack for pro wrestling, leading him come quit his mortgage broker task after a year of training to go full-time.
In addition to the extreme workout he was promised, the brand-new career, and an eventual path to global fame and also accolades, Joe"s time maintain in agree wrestling provided him something rather he didn"t expect: a surname that would certainly stick v him for the next 20 years.
As the told Sam Roberts, "There were two dudes in the gym called Joe, and of course, instead of calling the other man Caucasian Joe, all the suddenly I"m Samoa Joe. <...> i was pretty kind at this rings thing, and also promoters started asking because that Samoa Joe, and also I acquired so terrified of changing my name since I chosen the work. Ns couldn"t show up the following week and also be Johnny Thundermountain. The next thing girlfriend know, i was hired full time in a company, they to be calling me Samoa Joe, and I might too trademark the name. And here ns am."
That trademark is worth pointing out for a pair reasons. The first is that many wrestlers you see on tv don"t actually own the name you know them as. Instead, those names represent "characters" that are owned by the firm — WWE own "Seth Rollins" and also "Roman Reigns," for example, the same way that Warner Bros. And also Disney very own "Batman" and "Spider-Man." That can make it challenging for a wrestler to maintain their inert if they leave the company to work elsewhere, together they need to do therefore under a name that fans might not recognize. The exception, that course, would certainly be wrestlers who carry out under their actual names, like John Cena or Shinsuke Nakamura, but those are few and far between in one era where gaining a new, pre-trademarked surname is as lot a component of showing up in the agency as acquiring a brand-new pair of boots. Samoa Joe, however, has actually made the name a part of his brand, and also is top top a short list that wrestlers alongside cm Punk and also AJ styles who have actually made it to WWE without being provided a brand-new ring name.
In the at an early stage phase the his career, Samoa Joe invested some time in WWE"s developmental system, helping to train fellow wrestlers, and also even wrestles a couple of matches against John Cena earlier in the days prior to Cena ended up being pro wrestling"s greatest star. That an initial brush through WWE didn"t go as well well, despite — Joe was also told through Jim Ross, who was both one on-screen personality and WWE"s executive, management in charge of talent relations, "We know what we"re in search of in terms of talent, and also you"re not it."
With that, Joe decided to make a name for self elsewhere, and also the very first place that did that was Ring the Honor, a Philadelphia-based agency heavily influenced by Japanese puroresu that would certainly eventually end up being the greatest indie wrestling promotion in the country. It was the springboard to nationwide fame because that wrestlers who would eventually discover themselves in ~ the optimal of the card in WWE, choose Daniel Bryan, cm Punk, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, and also more, and also it was where Joe, nicknamed the Samoan submission Machine, to be one fifty percent of the an initial American wrestling match to knife a five-star rating in 7 years.
Only 5 months after he joined the company, Joe won the ROH world Championship, kicking turn off a title reign that would certainly last because that 645 work — almost two years at the top of the company. He to be a fighting champion, too, do 30 successful title defenses in the time. For many fans, though, there were three that stood the end well above the rest: a trilogy that matches versus ROH"s various other top star, centimeter Punk. What provides them so notable? The an initial two both finished as a 60-minute time-limit draw. It was the second one, in ~ a 2004 show accordingly titled Joe vs. Punk II, the wrestling doubter Dave Meltzer provided the five-star rating, an honor he hadn"t bestowed on an American match due to the fact that the very first Hell in the cabinet match between Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker. The wasn"t alone, one of two people — Joe vs. Punk II is often thought about to be one of the best wrestling matches of all time.
The reality that Joe and also Punk managed to walk for a full hour without ever losing the crowd"s attention is a testimony to how great they both were at agree wrestling, and how hard they were working. Despite the scripted nature of agree wrestling, doing any sort of intense physical task for 60 directly minutes is difficult even prior to you take the reality that they"re regulating to game an audience if you"re in ~ it. Joe and also Punk did that twice, and also they did it so well the the audience to be left wanting much more both times, telling a story that bridged all three matches. Oh, and also that 3rd one? it went 31 minutes before Joe choked Punk the end in the center of the ring, cementing himself as one of the best wrestlers in the world — not just on the indies, however anywhere.
While ROH was well-known to the type of hardcore rings fans who knew where to look for matches past what they might see indigenous WWE every week, it still didn"t have the with that various other promotions did. Full Nonstop Action, however, to be a agency with a weekly present on global television, and also while it had actually its share of renowned and, frankly, enlarge stars at the top of that cards, that was additionally building a huge part the its reputation around a roster of amazing younger talent. It to be a roster the Joe to the right into an extremely well.
At first, Joe to be featured in the company"s "X Division," wherein those younger wrestlers v a high-flying, high-risk style gave TNA its most thrilling matches. Prior to Joe"s arrival, the X department was thought of together something favor WCW and WWE"s Cruiserweight or brand-new Japan agree Wrestling"s junior Heavyweight divisions, complete of the smaller wrestlers and their flippy, acrobatic moves. Joe, however, is no a small man. He"s 6"2", and his load is usually billed about 280 lbs, which would placed him nice solidly in the Heavyweight category. The thing is, Joe had incredible conditioning — the sort of thing you need when you"re wrestles 60-minute main occasions — and also was qualified of explosive rate and power. In other words, he could keep up through the smaller sized wrestlers while still throwing them around like he was Godzilla.
More than anyone else, Joe exemplified the X Division"s oft-repeated tagline, "It"s not about weight limits, it"s about no limits," something the was proven as soon as he obtained a shot in ~ the X division championship in the main event complement of TNA"s Unbreakable in 2005. In addition to his opponents, AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels, Joe earned yet one more one that Dave Meltzer"s five-star ratings because that this complement — and also is the only match in the company"s 17-year history to gain that rating.
Samoa Joe spent a full ten years v TNA/Impact Wrestling, a time that observed him gift featured together being undefeated because that a complete 18 month after the debuted, and also winning pretty much every title and also accolade that it was possible for him come win. Think it or not, though, his most notable moment in the company might not have happened in the ring. In fact, it didn"t also happen v him onscreen.
In 2008, Joe to be booked in a match against Scott Steiner and Kurt angle at an event called Sacrifice. The enhance didn"t occur as plan — Angle to be injured and also replaced with Frankie Kazarian — however nobody really remembers that. The only thing castle remember is the infamous "Steiner Math" promo that Scott Steiner cut in the run-up to the feud, which went viral well after the event. The whole promo is incredible, however the brief version is that Steiner worked out that he had actually a "141 ⅔ percent chance of winning" due to the fact that "I"m a genetic freak and I"m no normal."
It"s pertained to as one of the funniest promos in wrestles history, which provides it a marked contrast to Joe"s super-serious onscreen persona. Once he to be asked around it on Sam Roberts" podcast, though, he said that he was watching the from off-camera cracking up the whole time, and that they had to keep beginning over due to the fact that Steiner"s protege, Petey Williams, retained breaking out into laughter when they were trying to movie it.
In 2015, 13 year after Jim Ross said him the he wasn"t what the company was feather for, Samoa Joe signed v WWE and made his debut as part of their NXT brand. When NXT was considered to it is in a developmental promotion — a sort of "minor league" show where more recent wrestlers could be refined prior to being carried onto the main shows — it also played organize to well-established global stars who were acclimating to the unique WWE style.
That brought about what plenty of fans thought about to it is in an absolute dream match: Joe taking on Japanese superstar Shinsuke Nakamura. Choose Joe, Nakamura also had an MMA background the he"d linked with more traditional agree wrestling to end up being the "King of solid Style." "Strong Style" is a format of pro wrestling pioneered in Japan by Antonio Inoki the can best be defined by saying that when it looks choose the wrestlers space hitting each various other really hard, it"s since they are. The large difference was the while Joe had always been the straightforward badass, Nakamura merged his hard-hitting style with charismatic flair influenced by Freddie Mercury and also Michael Jackson.
The 2 wrestlers listed a pretty an excellent example of solid Style as soon as they clashed end Joe"s NXT Championship in ~ Takeover: Brooklyn II. In ~ the end of the match, Nakamura hit his finishing move, a running knee-strike to the face, and, well, check out above. Joe experienced a legit dislocated jaw ~ the first knee strike. Yes: first. After the an initial one dislocated his jaw, the complement went on for an additional two minutes, throughout which Nakamura struggle two much more knee strikes, one come the back of the head (knocking Joe"s jaw into his own hand together he to be checking the damage) and another one right to the face. It"s not frequently that you deserve to see a guy obtain pinned to lose a location belt and also feel relief for him, yet if you desire that experience, that enhance exists.
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With his 15+ years of endure performing at a optimal level, an international fame from functioning the indies and Japanese promotions, and a cable of hard-hitting matches in NXT, it was never really a opportunity that Samoa Joe wouldn"t be dubbed up come WWE"s main roster sooner rather than later. If over there was also a piece of doubt, however, it to be obliterated within about a mainly of his debut in NXT.
In an interview, Joe called the story that meeting through Triple H, WWE"s executive Vice chairman of Talent (and occasional wrestler with 14 civilization championships under his belt) shortly after he was hired and getting a congratulatory handshake. "He claims "Hey, you"re #2 in merch last night." i went "Oh, #2 in merch for NXT? That"s nice good." He"s prefer "No, because that the company." i was favor "Who the hell was #1 then, man?!""
Clearly, that long road native the "84 Olympics, through Japan, the indies, Ring of Honor, and also TNA had actually paid off.