Samoa Joe enjoys his job as part of the Monday night raw broadcast team, but he’s treating his time out of the ring as just temporary.
“I don’t think my in-ring career is over,” says Joe. “I have some really strong goals that I hope to pursue in the near future.”
Joe last wrestled more than a year ago in an eight-man tag during the February 10, 2020 issue of Raw. At that moment, things started to fall apart. He suffered a concussion during a WWE commercial shoot, which he noted was not long after a previous concussion, and later received a 30-day suspension for violating the company’s wellness policy. A year later, Joe emphasized that regaining full health remains his top priority.
“It’s about taking the best, healthiest approach to my recovery,” says Joe. “When it comes to concussions, the amount of knowledge and science that has evolved over the last decade has been incredible. I suffered one on television, and then one shortly after. For my health and safety, WWE pushed me back and I was on board.
“There have also been some delays with the pandemic, in terms of medical availability of certain specialists and facilities, so that played a major factor at the time. But like I said, WWE Medical is doing everything they can to give me the healthiest comeback possible. “
Since last April, Joe (Nuufolau Joel Seanoa, 41) has been a weekly presence in the comments of Raw. He joins a distinguished roster of former villains in the ring to don a WWE helmet, bringing unmistakable authority and legitimacy to each week’s broadcast.
“I didn’t know if it would be good,” says Joe. But I had the opportunity to be the voice of Raw, something I’ve loved for so long in my life. It is a rare opportunity that is given to very few people. When those opportunities arise, you should seize them.
“This was not something I sat at home and dreamed of. I definitely didn’t go in with any expectations, but decided to give it a try. Most of the things in my life that I have discovered that I am good at, I have found them by accident. It’s been going well so far, and I just hope to get better. “
Joe’s transition to broadcasting has also brought new opportunities, most recently as the host of the new WWE series. Grit & Glory. The three-part online video series, which debuted last week, features interviews with Big E, Rhea Ripley and Edge.
“These three took very varied approaches to becoming WWE Superstars,” says Joe. “They arose in very different generations and we will learn about their struggles, which many people might think are not part of achieving their dream.”
Having dedicated the last 22 years of his life to professional wrestling, Joe has a unique appreciation for his stories.
“If anyone has had a mixed bag when it comes to a journey to get to WWE, it’s me,” says Joe. “When it came to putting the series together, everyone agreed that we would need different superstars from different generations and different lifestyles, and that I was the one who could best relate to their struggles along the way.
“I want to give the world an idea of how difficult it can be to rise to WWE and then find success here. That translates to outside of WWE. I think a lot of people will find similarities in their own life struggles, and the show highlights those stories. “
Joe is entering his sixth year with WWE. He has enjoyed a number of memorable moments, including two races as the NXT Champion and a couple of reigns as the United States Champion. His fierce promotions and robust in-ring physical style were a welcome addition to WWE after he spent his career honing the craft on multiple different sets of wrestling canvases around the world.
“I went into several different types of companies that had different types of approaches to the art form,” says Joe. “That helped shape who I am today.”
Over the past two decades, Joe has built a legendary featured reel, even if most of it exists outside of the WWE Network. Joe was a staple of TNA / Impact Wrestling for nearly a decade, and his work was recognized in 2003 and 2004 as a Ring of Honor champion. His trilogy of matches with CM Punk from ’04 helped set a new standard for the industry, establishing both artists as two of the best in the world. Those matches even established a prototype for the Kenny Omega – Kazuchika Okada trilogy that took place over a decade later at New Japan Pro Wrestling. Yet despite an anthology of featured matches, Joe is unhappy with the legacy he has built.
“It’s complicated,” reflects Joe. “At this point in my life, I have learned to be happy, but I don’t think I will ever be satisfied. That is a blessing and a curse. I’m glad people are aware of my accomplishments, but my fire still burns. “
Last summer, a ring comeback was briefly sparked against Seth Rollins, then abandoned almost immediately. Even with a safe place on the broadcast team, there is no doubt for Joe that his in-ring career will resume. Despite the success in the broadcast booth, as well as in Grit & GloryJoe firmly believes that he has more to prove.
“I’m enjoying the broadcast booth, but there are still things I want to accomplish in the ring,” says Joe. “We’ll see, maybe a return to the ring is right around the corner.”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.