Samoa Joe's win at Extreme Rules was both a surprise and a relief for many fans. It was a surprise because WWE had teased a Finn Balor victory on Monday Night Raw. It was a relief due to the Joe versus Brock Lesnar dream match scenario that's been discussed in fan circles for years.
Now that dream has become a reality, and Joe has finally made the biggest impact of his WWE run thus far. He also happened to make a career-defining statement in the process.
The match hasn't happened yet, of course. Joe versus Lesnar is booked for Great Balls of Fire on July 9. The moment of Joe's greatest impact came on the June 5 edition of Raw, when he confronted Paul Heyman in the middle of the ring.
The night didn't go well for Lesnar's advocate.
Joe was calm, he was cool, and he was calculating. He spoke of wanting what Lesnar has: the easy schedule, the intimidation factor and Heyman's services. But he wanted Lesnar's championship more than anything else.
Joe showed no fear—a fact that Heyman recognized when he came down to the ring.
Heyman did his part as The Beast's spokesman and previewed the upcoming match between his client and The Destroyer. It was a brief meeting, but one that ended with a handshake. Heyman went over Lesnar, Joe and the match itself.
But then Joe dropped the mic and it got scary.
Joe delivered the news that he was going to choke Heyman out. He was just as reserved as he was in the beginning, but this time the intensity was evident. Joe told Heyman what he was going to do, and he did it. He warned Heyman what it would feel like, and he did so like a doctor consulting his patient.
Joe dissected his attack, and then he performed it. Fans sat back and watched it all unfold, and it was obvious that something very important had occurred. Samoa Joe took the moment and not only proved he owned it, but that he deserved it.
Joe versus Lesnar may indeed have been a dream match scenario for many fans, but that's always been just a discussion. There was never any guarantee it would ever happen or that it would actually work at all. But Samoa Joe put those fears to rest with this promo.
He is the right man to face Lesnar right now, and he showed that on Raw. He stepped up, and he took full control of the situation. All eyes were on him, as he showed just a glimpse of the work he's always been capable of doing.
Sidelining Seth Rollins was huge for Joe. Working as Triple H's personal mercenary put him on the map. Winning at Extreme Rules set him on a path to the top. But attacking Heyman established Joe as a top player in the company.
Now the first shot has been fired in this impending feud.
Lesnar's recent war with Goldberg finally revealed The Beast's humanity. Lesnar could not get past Goldberg despite how hard he tried. For the first time in his WWE career, Lesnar had an opponent that could not be moved. It was a rivalry that fans will never forget because it gave Lesnar a flaw: He could be beaten if he was thrown off his game.
Samoa Joe is 12 years younger than Goldberg. He has speed, strength, endurance and can mat wrestle with the best of WWE. He has the reputation of being a tough guy, and it's well deserved. He never backs down, and he's never had a reason to. He's absolutely fearless because no one's ever been able to scare him.
Now that persona means more than it ever has before. Now it's been fully realized in WWE.
Joe may or may not defeat Lesnar at Great Balls of Fire. The match will surely be evenly fought, and Joe should hold his own against The Beast Incarnate. But no matter what happens on July 9 or on the road to the event, Joe's moment on Raw has defined his career.
His next moment may indeed come when he steps into the ring with the Universal champion.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Bleacher Report. His podcast, Tom Clark's Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online at boinkstudios.com