A veteran of more than 20 years in the squared circle, Samoa Joe has experienced all of the exhilarating highs and demoralizing lows that come with a professional wrestler’s career. That’s what makes his inclusion in the upcoming WWE Grit & Glory video series, presented by Chevy Silverado and debuting Wednesday on The Bump, such a perfect fit.
“We want to explore a little bit more in depth the struggle it takes to become a WWE Superstar,” Joe told Uproxx Sports. “Even those struggles after you reach the pinnacle of WWE, kind of shedding light a little bit more on what superstars deal with on a daily basis. What you see on television comes with a lot of struggle, comes with a lot of work.”
Across the first three episodes, the series will bring together Joe and cross-generational WWE stars such as Rhea Ripley, Big E and Edge riding in the new Chevy Silverado and discussing their respective careers in unscripted dialogue. Those conversations are also meant to serve as motivation for future stars, as Joe can attest to personally, that the path to stardom isn’t always as straightforward as it seems.
“It isn’t that gilded path that some people think it is,” Joe said. “That can be really reassuring because there’s people out there, who are working their butts off and doing what they can do. And many young, would-be superstars with theses successes are going through their own struggles on their own career paths. And I think finding parallels with people who have kind of overcome incredible odds to become WWE Superstars and seeing some of the struggles they went through in climbing through relatable instances. I think that can be helpful for a lot of people and it can be inspiring for sure.”
For Joe, his path to superstardom has taken him down an unexpected avenue that’s recently resulted in missing more than a year away from the ring. Despite those setbacks, Joe is confident he’s on his way back thanks to the help of the WWE medical staff.
“I think right now, we’ve learned a lot medically about concussions and recovery and we’re taking the safest and the best approach and I appreciate it,” Joe said. “WWE medical, they’ve been great and understanding and wonderful. So I think at this time we’re just taking the best course of action and obviously some things have been delayed just because of the pandemic and medical availability and liability of being in places and traveling to get evaluations and stuff. So, I mean, there’s been some technical holdups as well as just a very careful approach to my return and recovery and I appreciate it. And I’m all aboard, you know? I would rather take this time and miss a large considerable amount of time than potentially this getting more serious. It took (WWE) a lot to talk me down. But after seeing medically, you know, what I’ve seen, I agree with them. And we’re just taking our time with it and trying to do right.”
For a star like Joe, who has been battle-tested and rose through the ranks during a time when stars brushed off injuries, the process has been difficult to sit back and heal up.
“The understanding (of concussions) has evolved so much in 10 years. Even now, the protocol is constantly being tweaked with the newest information. Obviously this is an issue across many sports and many sports across the board are working together to find the best solution. There’s technology and science involved and because of that, hopefully we’re dealing with this situation better than we have in the past,” Joe said. “But I am my own worst enemy in this aspect, where I just want to shake it off. I have people that depend on me and you see these other things that could happen. I had to realize that I have to start listening because I have to honor these responsibilities to people, both professionally, personally, everybody. It’s very, very difficult when you come from a state of always wanting to charge forward, wanting to go harder and fight through. And this series we’re doing now preaches those very qualities of understanding when it’s time to take care of yourself.”
For Joe, his ultimate goal remains to return to the ring and cap his legacy with a WWE or Universal championship reign.
“(Those titles) are a calling card for a legacy. It’s something that’s sought after,” Joe said. “It’s based on perseverance and time. I’ve existed in a career wrought with doubt by others. I’ve learned to shut it out and never listened to it because honestly, I never had to accept those results and we found a way to get it done. So we’re just working on that right now. Just being strategic about it.”
For now, Joe will continue to enjoy his time at the Monday Night Raw commentary desk, which he calls seeing a more “complete picture” of the pro wrestling landscape.
“You can spend your entire life in the ring and never have a true understanding of what goes on a few feet outside of it,” Joe said. “Sitting behind the commentary desk (has allowed me to see) how all the moving parts work and coming to have an appreciation for the incredibly intricate and amazing machine that is WWE production. And I think that’s by far the most surprising thing that I’ve enjoyed learning about. Just seeing my colleagues on the announce desk, guys like Michael Cole, Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton and seeing the amazing amounts of responsibility that they balance and have.
“In my opinion, that broadcast seat is one of the most unique jobs in sports. And it is probably one of the things that I think the world will never know how complex it is.”
WWE Grit and Glory will debut as a three-part series on the WWE Network this Wednesday on The Bump.