The Samoan Submission Machine and former TNA & ROH World Champion, Samoa Joe joined the Chad Dukes Wrestling show Wednesday afternoon for an interview promoting his return to Ring of Honor starting March 7th at the National Television Taping in Baltimore, MD. For our local readers, tickets for the Baltimore show and the other dates Joe is confirmed for at ROHWrestling.com.
During his interview with Dukes, Joe discusses the thought process behind his return to the independents, ROH’s growth, the controversy over the safety of the Styles Clash, CM Punk’s tweet hinting at a match, NXT, and more.
Since leaving TNA Wrestling Samoa Joe has become one of the most sought after “free agents” in professional wrestling and yesterday it was announced he would be returning to his old stomping grounds, arguably the promotion that made him famous, Ring of Honor. Joe opened the interview by talking about the decision to return home.
“I think certain times in your career you reexamine things and a change of scenery is nice. It’s good for the fans, it’s good for me, and I think it’s healthy all around. I’m excited about some new matches for me, there’s some guys out there I haven’t had a chance to work with especially some younger guys, up and comers, that I think have tremendous promise and talent and I get to get in there and mix it up with them.”
“It kinda was a culmination over the past few months of various factors, various reasons. You kind of come to these big decisions and I kind of looked around saw the landscape of things and thought it was the time.”
With Samoa Joe’s return to Ring of Honor the company is assembling one of the most stockpiled rosters on the independent circuit. From booking Alberto El Patron to AJ Styles, making a run at the #2 spot in the sports entertainment industry seems like a no brainer. While Joe is new to this incarnation of Ring of Honor he does have insight on what they may need to do to take that next step coming from TNA and it’s more than just an impressive roster.
“I don’t really have a grasp of what Sinclair’s intentions are. I really haven’t dealt much with the new regime yet. Like I said this is my return after an absence, I think 2008 is the last time I did anything with Ring of Honor. I think they want to grow and make their brand bigger, and bringing in myself and [Patron, Styles, etc] that’s going to help with that. It takes tremendous infrastructure; it takes a lot of careful planning and wise decisions so it’s a lot more than the talent that walks through the door.”
Speaking of AJ Styles, in our recent interview with Doc Gallows, the controversy over the safety of Styles’ Styles Clash finisher was discussed. Recently, Styles has been under fire for several injuries suffered to performers taking the move. Joe being a long time Styles rival echoed Gallows sentiment that the move should not be banned due to safety issues.
“I’ve taken the Styles Clash several times and AJ’s a formidable athlete in his own right, it’s never been an issue of safety with me ever. I understand how people feel, there’s obviously been injuries involved with it, but I know especially with my very long-term experience with experiencing the move on all ends of it, it’s always been a safe as far as injuries go move and I’ve never really had an issue with it.”
Another name intimately tied to the career of Samoa Joe as one of his greatest opponents is CM Punk. The two competed in a legendary trilogy in ROH and once Joe announced his return to the promotion, his friend tweeted him a cryptic message stating, “I owe you one, PAL.” Joe addressed the situation and seems up for the challenge should Punk want to wrestle him in Part 4.
“Time will tell and that’s really up to him and obviously his obligations to UFC. I know he’s training real hard for his upcoming fight but if he wants to throw down, if he wants to scrap, you can come over here and start off with me and see what’s left when you go into the octagon.”
The biggest stumbling block towards such an event is the aforementioned obligations of Punk to the UFC. Samoa Joe on the other hand, while well versed through training in various disciplines of martial arts hasn’t considered his own jump to MMA.
“I really haven’t put any thought to it. I like to train, I train with a bunch of really awesome dudes here locally and back when I was full-time in California, it’s kind of a world that’s always been around me. I love pro wrestling, man and I’m a pro wrestler and I love what I do.”
Many of Joe’s friends and former independent wrestling colleagues are currently experiencing their own successes in WWE’s NXT system, lauded as the home for the best wrestling in the company. Recently, Joe has been able to check out the program more frequently and sees it as an avenue for exposing more people to independent wrestling.
“I’m over the moon happy for those guys. Anyone that knows what the independent wrestling life is, it’s quite a grind, and for years there was that connotation kind of attached to it where a lot of those guys wouldn’t get a fair shot in a bigger company. To see those guys doing so well and to see those guys taking the opportunity and running with it, I think it’s indicative of what you’ll find out on the independent circuit in a lot of cases. It’s interesting, I think Hunter he’s kinda come to realize that. I think most wrestlers up there they do respect the journeymen, the guys that go out there and grind it out, do this for the love and they realize there’s talent out there.”
Continuing the topic of NXT, one of the biggest outcries from the internet wrestling world upon Joe’s TNA departure was the fans’ desire to see him in a WWE ring. However, with Joe being a 15+ year veteran in the industry and TNA alumni, fans questioned whether Joe having to “start over” in NXT would be a problem for the superstar. On the contrary, Samoa Joe made it clear that if WWE ever comes calling he’s not opposed to proving himself all over again in the WWE’s increasingly popular developmental territory of NXT, in fact it’s something he takes pride in doing.
“I’ve never shied away from an opportunity to prove myself. Every promotion I’ve ever worked for, initially when I started out, never wanted me. I remember my first Ring of Honor show and [Gabe Sapolsky. Former ROH booker] told me, ‘Hey listen, we can’t afford a flight out from California every month, so it will probably be a one-off deal.’ And then walking back through the curtain after that first match and him going, ‘you’re on every show.’ I think when you do get to the point where you’re not willing to go out there and prove what you can do, I understand guys they feel strongly a certain way, that’s fine, I think it’s individual for everybody, but I know for me I’ve never shied away from an opportunity to prove myself anywhere.”
“I’ve always firmly believed that you can’t deny talent and cream always rises to the top. Those are two things you always hear clichés among all sports not just pro wrestling and it’s something that I firmly believe. At the end of the day, if you’ve got it you’re going to get there. You’ve got to find the opportunities, the doors and the windows you can find and do what you need to do.”
Be sure to check back later tonight for this weeks full episode of the Chad Dukes Wrestling Show. Thank you to Samoa Joe for his time today! Be sure to follow him on Twitter @SamoaJoe and check out his upcoming dates in Ring of Honor.
- March 7th in Baltimore, MD
- March 13th in Milwaukee, WI
- March 14th in Chicago Ridge, IL
- March 27 in Redwood City, CA