Samoa Joe is back in NXT.
Two months after being released by WWE, Joe (Nuufolau Seanoa, 42) re-signed with the company. No longer associated with Raw, where he had been a color commentator prior to launch, Joe is back in an on-screen role as the enforcer for NXT general manager William Regal.
Finally, Joe believes that he will return to the ring. Already being the first two-time NXT champion, it would be magical to see Joe become the first champion three times.
“The guys on the roster have told me they want this matchup too,” says Joe. “I couldn’t really pay attention to that when I was in Raw. Those confrontations weren’t going to happen then. But now I am here. Let’s see if they’re still that loud. “
Joe is unauthorized to wrestle, the result of a sustained concussion during a WWE commercial shoot in early 2020. Joe’s enforcer role allows him to add value and a unique kind of tense excitement to the weekly NXT broadcast while progress toward full health. . The new opportunity quickly arose after Joe received a phone call from John Laurinaitis, WWE’s head of talent relations, in April, notifying him that he was among those laid off.
“A younger me would have handled this very differently,” says Joe. “I know when I got the call and it’s hard to explain, but I was really taken aback by the whole thing. Johnny called me and gave me the symbolic speech, and it’s difficult for Johnny because he has to make a lot of calls. At the same time, there were already discussions between Hunter and me for a while. This is something Hunter had wanted. So essentially, when they released me, I understood their logic and reasoning. For me, I didn’t miss a beat. I was ready to face whatever came next, and that’s what I was ready to do. “
Rather than a surprise appearance on New Japan Pro-Wrestling or AEW, the next step was a return to NXT, reuniting him with Paul “Triple H” Levesque.
“I was sending him several goodbye text messages, expressing my thanks and gratitude,” says Joe. Hunter answered me right away, asking if I had a few minutes. We had a short phone call and he asked for a few weeks to put something together. Throughout all my dealings with Paul during my tenure with WWE, they have been nothing but positive, and they have also been honest.
“So when he asked me to give him a few weeks to get something together, it went without saying that I would. And it is even more than that. I really like what he’s done in NXT, the talent that he’s given him a platform and a voice, and being able to help continue that tradition is a great reason I came back. “
Joe, a 22-year wrestling veteran, has witnessed and experienced the ups and downs of the profession. He will never forget the way he was treated and featured on NXT from 2015 to 2017. Those familiar with Joe’s work on Ring of Honor and TNA already knew that he was a sensational talent, the kind that could elicit a rare kind of excitement in those They watched through his sharp and scathing promotions and intensely physical style. But until that run, he had never enjoyed the reach of the WWE platform. While on NXT, he introduced himself as a genuine star.
“I thought a lot of what we did was tremendous,” says Joe. “I enjoyed every minute of this.”
The idea of traversing the ropes as a competitor in the ring continues to cross Joe’s mind. This may seem shortsighted, as Joe is 42 years old and already established as a great fighter, both inside and outside of WWE. However, the fire to compete still burns, and no auxiliary role will replace one last race in the ring.
“It means a lot to me that people honor my legacy and have fond memories of the games I’ve been to,” says Joe. “That really means a lot. But I’ve always focused on what I can do next. I don’t want to dwell on the praise. I didn’t build my career on good memories. I do what I do and give the fans something to look forward to. ”.
A benefit for Joe in his new role as enforcer will be highlighting the list. Beating an opponent is an integral part of sustaining yourself as a professional wrestler, which Joe also did in a very credible way during his time in the comments. Especially with the caliber of talent that calls NXT home, he’s grateful to be working with this collection of women and men.
“A big part of the reason I’m back is the people I’m working with on NXT,” says Joe. “It starts with the passion of Hunter and Shawn Michaels, who is an incredible mind. And I’m in awe of the women on the list. They are beyond amazing. Some are very young in their careers and are exceptional. Look how raquel [González], she has been fantastic. Then look at Ember Moon, Dakota Kai, Io Shirai. It’s a row of top-notch internationally certified talent killers. NXT, they are launching an incredible wrestling program. “
A centerpiece for upcoming NXT programming is the Kyle O’Reilly-Adam Cole match on July 6 at the Great American Bash–thematic show. That’s a rivalry with roots that extend far beyond WWE. Cole and O’Reilly have spearheaded the signing of Ring of Honor Final battle pay-per-view at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, they shared the ring at the Tokyo Dome for the acclaimed Kingdom of struggle show, and built an unforgettable story as they combined as part of The Undisputed Era. When asked if the rivalry reminds him of any of his own iconic battles, including the trilogy of struggles he had in 2004 with CM Punk, Joe also references his long-standing feud with AJ Styles.
“Me and Punk is a great analogy, but me and AJ have also been those eternal enemies,” says Joe. “It’s like Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, a really controversial relationship and a transcendent rivalry. It has gone beyond the limits of NXT. This goes back years and years, and they are both at the top of their game.
“Kyle O’Reilly is one of the most innovative people I have ever seen. He’s been able to adapt much of his martial arts training and bring it into professional wrestling in really smart and brilliant ways. Adam Cole just complies. You can’t ask for much more than that. I’m looking forward to this showdown. It has come down a few times, and each time it has, it has been fantastic. This will be no different. “
Joe brought a different ingredient to NXT during his first run there. Even with a roster that included Finn Bálor and Shinsuke Nakamura, he added an element of realism that wouldn’t have been the same without him. Joe personifies what it means to be a professional wrestler, possessing the ability to capture the attention and imagination of viewers, and now he can apply the elements of his craft in NXT.
“I have to admit, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the confines of NXT and I feel right at home,” says Joe. “Unfortunately, I have a horrible habit of trashing the house.”
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.