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Samoa Joe to the WWE Universe: Consider This Your Warning

Samoa Joe is one of wrestling's rising stars and is about to become a household name after joining WWE NXT.
June 10, 2015, 4:00pm
Photo by Robb Vanderstoel

The submission specialist Samoa Joe has arrived.

In what WWE is billing as the most anticipated debut in NXT history, the California native will have his first match on the sports entertainment juggernaut's developmental program Wednesday.

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Joe, who just ended a ten-year run with TNA Impact Wrestling, was rumoured to be in contract negotiations with WWE for some time, but when he finally arrived at NXT's TakeOver: Unstoppable last month to face off with champion Kevin Owens, the reaction surprised even him.

"It was humbling, first and foremost, because towards the end of my run with TNA I was—you start to question things. You start to question how much buzz and steam you can build up about yourself," he told the Toronto-based Smash Wrestling's Smashcast podcast.

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"It was definitely one of the most humbling experiences that ever happened to me. It's just something that makes you believe in all the hard work that you've done over the years. And I'm thankful. I really, really am."

Mike Draztik, an independent wrestler who works for Beyond Wrestling in Providence, among several other wrestling promotions throughout North America, recently posted on Facebook, "The realist shit I've ever heard in Pro Wrestling is, 'What you put in is what you get back,'" and accompanied it with a "Dedication" hashtag. No one embodies that reality more than Joe.

Dedication and hard work are two things he hopes to instill in the next generation of professional wrestlers. At a seminar he ran for local wrestlers in Toronto ahead of Smash Wrestling's ALS charity fundraiser on June 6, Joe expressed little sympathy for aspiring wrestlers who make little effort to improve themselves, are full of excuses and expect favours. "Do it before you get there," he said.

Samoa Joe arrives at Smash and DRIcore Kicks ALS, a charity fundraiser co-hosted by Smash Wrestling. Photo by Robb Vanderstoel

Prior to his work with TNA, he made a name for himself in Ring of Honor, a company that he helped put on the map in the early 2000s. Joe held the ROH World Championship for 21 months and was undefeated in TNA for 18. He's also held every title available in TNA, including the TNA World Tag Team Championship, which he won with Kurt Angle but defended by himself, making him one of only four Grand Slam Champions in the company's history. As a result of over 15 years of dedication to his craft, Joe's NXT T-shirt sold out less than one month after his first television appearance in WWE.

Joe's experience is paying dividends and he's not concerned about the transition from TNA to WWE.

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"Stylistically, all pro wrestling is essentially the same," he said. "You just adjust to the taste of the audience. The idea that there's a completely different is a misnomer. You make subtle changes."

Those subtle changes are what he tried to ingrain in the wrestlers who came to the seminar—whether it's transitioning out of wristlocks or the all-important interaction with the audience.

Shortly after Owens—another ROH-turned-NXT superstar—beat the nearly-undefeatable John Cena clean at WWE's Elimination Chamber event on May 31, Josh Adams, a professional wrestler who trains at the CZW Dojo in Blackwood, New Jersey, wrote on Facebook that he loved how the landscape in the pro wrestling business was changing, something Joe agreed with.

"I think for a long time pro wrestling has been gearing up for a change in momentum," Joe said.

"There's a lot of guys out there on the international stage… I'd love to see those guys brought to the national stage in America."

Samoa Joe's signature Running Senton. Photo by Vanderstoel

That's where NXT comes in. Under the direction of WWE CEO Vince McMahon's son-in-law Paul Levesque (you know him as Triple H), NXT has already made superstars of wrestlers from the US, Canada, England, Ireland and Japan. The first NXT Champion, Seth Rollins, became the WWE World Heavyweight Champion at Wrestlemania 31, to the delight of hardcore wrestling fans, including UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier.

Given Samoa Joe's history of commitment and winning championships, it's safe to assume that, starting tonight, he'll be following Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens on the path to NXT gold and beyond.