WWE's Secret Weapon to Fully Unlocking Raw Underground's PotentialAugust 15, 2020
WWE has something special and loaded with potential in the new Raw Underground.
The spinoff show within a show, brought together by Shane McMahon, is a nice change of pace for a program that typically lasts too long. It's got a different feel because of the production values, and the different type of fighting has already lead to some unique Superstars shining in the new spotlight.
But Raw Underground needs someone perfectly suited to it to carry things for the long term.
Samoa Joe might just be that secret weapon.
So far, Underground has done a good job of making guys who might not normally stand out do just that. Hurt Business (MVP, Bobby Lashley and Shelton Benjamin) have looked great, and so has a relative unknown like Dabba-Kato.
But bringing down an established megastar who fits the theme could only make things better. And it's hard to dream up anyone better than Samoa Joe, one of the most dangerous fighters and submission specialists in wrestling history.
There's a danger to bringing down a lot of main-roster talent to Underground. Keeping it largely separate from the main roster will help its longevity and build up Superstars who otherwise might not receive pushes.
But Joe looks like one of the most noteworthy exceptions. He's been out with an injury and parked behind the commentator desk for a while, where he's predictably showcased some of his best-in-company mic skills.
Funnily enough, it was MVP who brought up the fact that Joe will be on his way back soon—and that he would like to face him with the rest of his crew at his back, as Newsweek's Phillip Martinez captured:
"What I understand, ol' Samoa Joe is gonna be back in action and over the years Samoa Joe and I have been great friends, but we've never ever faced each other. At this stage of my career, I think I feel a lot more confident facing him, knowing that I got Bobby and Shelton backing me up—but I also know that wouldn't phase Joe in the least."
And if this isn't some low-key hint at what's to come, it should be.
Joe is incredibly dangerous and one of the most believable bad guys on the roster. He talks a big game and backs it up.
Seriously, has anyone looked this believable in the ring with Brock Lesnar besides Drew McIntyre?
Now put that in Underground. The gritty realism of the basement-looking environment with Joe's demeanor would not only just be amazing to watch, but it would also quickly elevate everyone he works with, good guy or bad.
It just sort of fits Joe's character too. While WWE could go the predictable route and involve him with Seth Rollins again on the main roster, it's a been-there-done-that sort of thing. Joe seeing what they are doing on Raw Underground and wanting to run the whole thing would make a ton of sense.
And that's probably what Joe would do. Maybe he ends up trying to wrest control of the whole thing from McMahon. He would obviously bump heads with Hurt Business or control some sort of faction. Joe the prizefighter running Underground just has a nice ring to it.
There are real-world considerations to point out too. Joe's obviously had a rough injury history since coming to WWE, which isn't so surprising considering the style he used to wrestle and the fact that he's 41. But down on Underground, he would get to work more of a stand-up style in a rope-less ring with UFC-esque vibes, which could prolong his career and keep him at the forefront of WWE programming.
Also keep in mind it could mean he stays away from the rest of the Raw roster, as well as SmackDown. Fans have already seen a ton of Joe against Rollins, Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman and, to a lesser extent, even McIntyre. Fresh opponents help both him and whomever he happens to be fighting.
At the end of the day, Joe is worthy of outright headlining WWE. And it feels like the promotion would use him accordingly were it not for his injury woes. He's been an international, multi-promotion success story for a reason and has a lot to offer.
But Raw Underground so perfectly matches his skillset and character at this stage of his career that WWE probably shouldn't overlook the opportunity. How long Joe's stellar career can keep going and the success of Underground might hinge on whether the promotion realizes the potential of the pairing.