Samoa Joe becoming a star competing for the WWE Championship would’ve only been considered in some fan faction a decade ago, but in 2018 it’s real and spectacular.
Joe is currently working a hot as hell feud with AJ Styles — again, an amazing sentence to type — that’s seen Joe embrace his most heel-ish tendencies and bring Styles’ real life wife and kid into the storyline by promising to be their new daddy, simply to enrage Styles and try to get the Phenomenal One off his game. It’s all been very entertaining, even if at times it makes you cringe because it feels a little too real, but Joe makes it work by being so over the top with it.
Getting to this point has been a long time coming for Joe, who has been in the game for nearly two decades and only joined WWE in 2015, and even then it was on a part-time basis with NXT. As Joe recently explained on the Notsam Wrestling podcast with Sam Roberts, he feels his original NXT deal with WWE was the “greatest deal” ever in wrestling, and how he grew accustomed to fighting uphill battles with promoters who have never viewed him initially as a major star until they saw the crowd reaction.
“I had the greatest deal in the history of professional wrestling,” Joe said. “I could work freely for WWE, anybody else that I wanted to and collect income from every one of those companies, merchandise, the whole nine. It was a really good deal. Obviously, my prospects in WWE they felt they were extremely limited even initially when I got in. And that’s fine. Here’s the thing, this is something that’s not new to me. There has never been a company that has ever wanted me, and I know that sounds insane.
“When I first went to ROH, I remember my first day in ROH I was flown out and had a match with Low Ki, that the promotor at the time, Gabe Sapolsky, he watched and he said I want that here in ROH, this new burgeoning company and I want to see that brutal match here. So, I flew out to Philadelphia and I remember meeting with Gabe and him telling me straight to my face, ‘Listen, I can’t afford to be flying people out from California every month. So thank you for doing this tonight, but I just want to let you know before we get into anything, I don’t think there’s much prospect for us doing business together in the future.'”
Joe goes on to talk about how that led him to his Ring of Honor deal, his time with TNA, and how it took one night in NXT for him to be pretty assured he’d make the main roster after he came in No. 2 in merchandise for all of WWE.
(h/t Wrestling Inc.)