Samoa Joe returned to action on the October 30 edition of WWE Monday Night Raw. The Samoan Submission Specialist came back to an impressive pop, which he promptly shot down upon taking the mic. He then shut down Apollo Crews as well as Titus O'Neil.
The Destroyer made a statement. But what's next?
Joe has been in the game for nearly 18 years. During that time, fans have been waiting and hoping that one day, he would work in Vince McMahon's company. The domination he showed in TNA and Ring of Honor made him a legend on the independent circuit, and it was only a matter of time until WWE took notice.
That's what happened. But it's not quite been the rampage many fans expected.
Joe's booking has not been weak; in fact, WWE has promoted him as a dangerous striker who backs down from no one. He took on Brock Lesnar and gave the beast all he could handle. He put Seth Rollins out at the behest of Triple H. He beat Roman Reigns.
Joe was presented as the baddest man on the planet and made just as much of any impact as he's ever done in his career. WWE did right by him and gave fans every reason to be happy.
However, when it comes to establishing dominance, Joe has yet to realize his potential. So now that he's back in the fold, it's time for him to begin building his reputation as the man to beat in WWE. That means every time he steps into the ring, he wins.
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It should not make a difference who he's working; from Crews to Matt Hardy to Dean Ambrose, Joe should go out and be unstoppable. That does not mean his matches cannot be competitive, and it does not necessarily mean he should squash people.
But if WWE go that route and book Joe to destroy one jobber after another, it would do nothing but show off The Destroyer.
But Samoa Joe can believably hang with anyone on the roster and that includes top guys. However, he will have to go to war first.
Battling the Blue Brand
Joe can beat a string of guys in the weeks leading to Survivor Series but once he gets there, he will likely be facing a SmackDown Superstar.
This is one of the most intriguing angles that Joe could possibly find himself in. For the first time since arriving on the main roster, Samoa Joe has a chance to work someone from SmackDown that he perhaps has never faced before.
Or maybe he will get the chance to renew an old rivalry.
AJ Styles or Shinsuke Nakamura would make great opponents for Joe of course and either matchup would be a main event anywhere in the world. But if a singles match is not in the cards for Joe, then it's possible he could be included in the big team match pitting the best against the best.
Kurt Angle will lead Team Raw as the captain against Team SmackDown Live. As time goes on, participants from both sides will indeed be announced on TV and it's clear that WWE will want top talents to fill the spots.
Why not use Joe in this match?
Though he is a loner and has only aligned himself with Triple H, that does not mean Joe wouldn't agree to help Team Raw. Of course, Angle would have to make it worth his while, which means a future Universal title shot.
Or it's always possible that Joe could butt heads with a SmackDown Superstar online, which would fuel a Survivor Series showdown. Baron Corbin and The Miz have already exchanged words on Twitter, which means WWE has opened the door for others to follow.
Despite how it happens, Joe needs a high-profile spot on the Survivor Series card. Not only does he need to look good on that night, he also needs to win. When fans see Joe, they should see a winner. He should be a reliable workhorse with an established run of dominance, on his way to the top.
When he gets there, it's time for Joe to get what he's worked for.
Samoa Joe should not only be on his way to the top, he should also be on his way to the WWE Universal Championship. But is that going to happen?
Lesnar is the key. As long as he is the unstoppable monster, there's not a lot of room left for any more. That was evident when he beat Joe and later, Braun Strowman. Lesnar has the dream booking of a lifetime because he's essentially Andre the Giant but angrier.
The Beast Incarnate has the keys to the WWE kingdom, and no one seems capable of taking them away from him.
But anything can happen in the company, and if Lesnar's WrestleMania 34 plans involved an opponent that was not on course for Raw's top belt, then Joe may have a chance. Angle himself could be the man who faces Lesnar at Mania, which could end in a double retirement from the ring.
Or maybe Joe is indeed meant to take Lesnar down after all.
Raw is still Roman Reigns' show, and Finn Balor is still in the mix. Both of those facts put Joe as the odd man out, but that does not mean The Destroyer can't become a top star on the red brand.
The Miz is the current Intercontinental champion, but it's a title that would look great around Joe's waist. Miz has brought a level of respect to the belt, but he's not brought the level of dominance that only Joe can bring.
Of course, WWE could always book Joe in a tag team, which means Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins would have a reason to worry. But if top guy status is just not available on Raw, then maybe Joe should move to SmackDown Live.
No matter how it happens, Joe should move up in the ranks of WWE. He's spent an entire career on the outside looking in, and now he has a chance to fulfill his potential on the worldwide stage. He's a big-time player and should be used where he is the most valuable.
Samoa Joe has only begun to destroy.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Bleacher Report. His podcast, Tom Clark's Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, iHeart Radio, Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online at boinkstudios.com