Mark For War: Joey Come Lately
This week, I got borderline sick when I heard that Samoa Joe is more than likely headed to a place he should have been headed to years ago, the WWE, to wrestle under the NXT brand.
I will preface this article by saying, at this point, this is not confirmed and still a rumor. Joe, however, has announced that he has in fact left TNA for good, and has ROH dates confirmed.
Here’s my personal opinion on Samoa Joe:
I think he’s fucking amazing in the ring and on the mic, and has always had a great look. So, basically, he’s a total package superstar.
However, I feel he has been consistent moron over the years when it comes making the right moves in his career. I’m not just talking about not jumping to ship to WWE either. In the mid-early-2000s, Joe was a legit up-in-comer in TNA, then a company with a lot of hungry eyes watching it. Joe owned the X Division, but had Main Eventer written all over him. I was baffled by the fact that Joe chose to continue with ROH dates all throughout this time. Yes, I went to them every time they came through Chicago. But why was Joe insistent on playing both sides of the fence? I feel this was ultimately the reason that Joe got his hands on the TNA world championship about two years after he should have. Why give it to a guy like Joe when they could put it on a guy like Jeff Jarrett, who they knew would be a TNA guy alone? Just dumb business sense on Joe’s part.
Around 2006, before Joe won his first TNA world title, there was actually a rumor that Joe was going to jump ship to WWE. This is at a time when TNA was, believe it or not, putting out a decent product and WWE seemed to be swinging and missing on a lot of talent they were bringing up through the ranks. If you remember, around the year 2006, WWE was a mess when it came to pushing new dudes. The top up and comers around this time were guys like Lashley, Umaga, Mr. Kennedy, Matt Hardy, and Jeff Hardy. They all ultimately flopped in main event compacities, and I’d argue that WWE saw chinks in their armor early on, before we actually noticed them. (I’m not trying to throw shade on Umaga, who I loved, by the way. RIP). As for WWE’s tested main eventers at the time, Cena and Edge were the two that made good. ‘Taker was still sort of flirting with the WWE title picture, but you could see that his character was changing in to a part-time wrestler. Batista had some traction. The verdict was still out on Orton (and in many ways still is). Add in way-past-their-prime guys like Shawn Michaels (who main evented ‘Mania that year) and King Booker, and that was your WWE roster.
So, when a friend approached me around this time asking what I thought about Samoa Joe possibly getting signed by the WWE, I responded immediately: “They’d have him feud with Cena right off the bat. He’d be in the main event picture immediately, and he’d stay there for good.”
I’m not really sure the WWE went super hard after Joe during this time for two reasons. The first is, I think they thought they had their wild samoan for years to come in Umaga (who came from the WWE family tree, unlike Joe). Also, the closest WWE Superstar Joe could be compared to at the time was his biggest rival on the indie scene, CM Punk. WWE wasn’t sold on Punk at this point, as is well documented. He eventually proved WWE wrong over a long stretch of time, and Triple H used the CM Punk workhorse blueprint to help find his new crop (enter Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and the NXT concept as a whole). But even though it never fully lined up for Joe, I believe he could have got his foot in the door and eventually the cream would have risen to the top, much like CM Punk.
Now it’s the year 2015. Samoa Joe is thirty-six-years old. His career seeds have already been sewn. The company (TNA) that once booked him properly in epic feuds with the likes of Kurt Angle, Sting, and AJ Styles has, over time, totally buried him for whatever reason. Now it is being heavily reported that Joe, almost a decade too late, is on the verge of signing with WWE. What’s shameful is that it is being reported that he will be sent to the NXT brand. I’m sure he could and would put on great matches with the NXT crop. But what’s the point? I’ve been seeing Joe wrestle live since the early 2000s. He had an amazing ROH run. He’s put on countless barnburner matches. Why does he need a NXT run to prove himself in the same light?
Frankly, given his skill and his character set, it couldn’t be a worse time for Samoa Joe to enter the WWE in any capacity. The WWE have spent the last three years coming up Millhouse on every young talent they’ve banked on. Wyatt, Rusev, Reigns, Ambrose, Rollins, and Bryan There are still guys we haven’t seen in a WWE ring yet that are going to torch the place once they move up from NXT (Owens and Zayn, to name a couple). Now Joe will have to stand in line; a line he could have easily have gone to the front of a decade ago.
Let’s not even mention the time WWE has put in to building up Roman Reigns and his Samoan legacy. I can’t in any way see them bringing another Samoan-American into the mix to play a similar gimmick. And they can’t really rebrand Joe at this point as, for example, an IRS agent. His gimmick and legacy precede him. So where would Joe fit?
Joe has several dates booked with ROH coming up. It’s being heavily rumored that Joe will head to NXT after those dates. I’d recommend Joe stay in ROH, but money is probably a factor. Besides, ROH has proven over the years that they are just as horrible at booking as TNA is. The only thing that saves them is the fact that they’ve rarely had proper television distribution for wrestling fans to truly notice how bad their booking is… but that’s a column for another time.
Joe, I love you. Joe fans, I’m one of you. I just don’t see this ending well.
Match of the Week: The Texas Tornado, Kerry Von Erich vs. Dino Bravo, Wrestlemania VII, March 24, 1991. Los Angeles, CA
As I noted above, timing is everything in wrestling. Sadly, the WWF run of wrestling legend Kerry Von Erich is what happens when you avoid joining a company at the right time and then try to jump in the mix after it’s too late. When Vince McMahon tried to take complete control of the wrestling industry during the early 80s, it was highly documented that Vince wanted the best from each territory. Kerry Von Erich was the best from Mid South Championship Wrestling. He avoided going to the WWF and stayed on the Texas indie circuit. Eventually, when that bubble burst, he made his way to WWF during a time of confusion and transition. They tried to push Kerry Von Erich by having one of the most over heels in the company, Mr. Perfect, put him over at Summerslam. The push didn’t stick. Six months later, we have this abysmal match. This is KVE’s only Wrestlemania appearance. I want to think that If Von Erich would have joined WWE in the early 80s, he would have had a Hall of Fame singles career. I love Kerry Von Erich and it’s so sad that we didn’t get more from him in a more mainstream format. Truly a great talent. Interesting side note: Von Erich had one of his feet amputated prior to his WWF career. He wrestled this match, like all his WWF matches, while wearing a prosthetic foot.
We can’t embed Hulu videos, but you can watch the match here.