3 Ways WWE Can Use Samoa Joe Effectively in NXT
Ever since he joined NXT in 2015, Samoa Joe has been one of those big names that fans wanted to see ascend to the highest altitude. Because of his legendary runs with Ring of Honor and TNA (now known as Impact), his reputation precedes him and his reign as the first two-time champion on the black and gold brand seemed like just the beginning.
However, The Samoa Submission Machine never reached the same level of prestige on Raw or SmackDown. Yes, he did have some memorable moments like his debut, his feuds with Brock Lesnar and AJ Styles, and that savage promo he cut on Jeff Hardy. But his time with WWE has been largely disappointing.
Recently, Joe settled in as a regular commentator on Raw and he was surprisingly great at it. Still, there was always some lingering hope that he would return to the ring and enjoy one last dominant push. Those hopes were quickly dashed when WWE released him in April.
This ill-advised and unpopular decision left many fans speculating about where the Huntington Beach native could end up. But they didn’t have to wait too long to find out as the former United States champion made his surprise return to NXT last week. The move raises just as many questions as his release did but no one can deny that Joe has already been a shot in the arm for the weekly show.
So, what does this all mean and what is the best course of action moving forward? Let’s delve into how WWE can use Samoa Joe effectively on NXT.
Keep It Simple and Don’t Overpromise
Many fans hoped Samoa Joe would become a world champion with WWE but for whatever reason, that never happened. So, when the company released him, viewers imagined what it would be like to see him wreak havoc in Japan or on AEW Dynamite.
There are still so many dream matches involving the Destroyer and one would have to assume there was more he wanted to do before he retires. Back in March, Joe told Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated, “I don’t think my in-ring career is done. I have some really strong goals I look forward to pursuing in the near future.”
It seemed clear that he didn’t want to stay behind the commentary desk long term. With his notoriety and phenomenal in-ring abilities, the world must’ve been at his feet as he finished up the remainder of his non-compete. So, what changed for the Samoan superstar?
His return to NXT would suggest that he’s still not cleared to compete and at 42 years old he can afford to remain off of tv for too long. As such, the move to work as an on-screen personality would be beneficial.
After all, a non-wrestling role allows him to stay relevant and appear on network television without a strenuous travel schedule. You can’t beat that.
In his first appearance, William Regal made it clear that the two-time NXT champion is not a competitor and he can’t get physical unless provoked. This immediately drew comparisons to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s stint as co-general manager of Raw following his retirement in 2003.
Now, The Destroyer is merely an enforcer, which would suggest this is temporary. However, WWE must adhere to these stipulations and try not to tease too many dream matchups. Straight away, it’s hard not to clamor for showdowns with Karrion Kross and Pete Dunne but that’s why less is more here.
There will undoubtedly be more teases but they can’t get too gratuitous because it will set high expectations for something that may not happen. That’s the last thing some fans want to see after his underwhelming run on Raw and SmackDown. As we saw with Daniel Bryan, Joe’s last hurrah could still be on the table, but WWE needs to ease into it.
Remind Fans Just How Dangerous Samoa Joe Is
This role as William Regal’s enforcer is so advantageous for Samoa Joe because it’s important to remind some fans just how menacing he can be.
It’s a perfect opportunity for The Samoan Submission Machine because he’s such a believable and captivating talker. On top of that, he just looks so physically imposing and his stern facial expressions are legitimately terrifying. So, he doesn’t have to do much
Every former wrestler turned authority figure needs that one decisive move to put someone down if threatened. Austin had the Stone Cold Stunner and Shawn Michaels had Sweet Chin Music. Joe should be just fine in that department.
As viewers saw on last week’s episode of NXT, the Coquina Clutch is sudden and just as devastating as ever. It was such a protected finishing move that it will make for a potent way to overpower just about anyone if he needs to. It made him so dangerous in the ring and it will make him just as much so in this new role.
Shoot for Intimidating as Opposed to Overwhelming
That brings us to our final suggestion. It will be very tempting to just allow Samoa Joe to choke out anyone who steps out of line, but WWE has to be careful.
There’s a fine line here when it comes to making 42-year-old intimidating and effective and it will be important not to overdo it. It’s ok for someone like Adam Cole to get embarrassed once in a while. But this shouldn’t become a common sight because the wrestlers still need to look the part.
The last thing NXT’s main event scene needs is an authority figure who legitimizes anyone who could be a threat to Karrion Kross. It runs the risk of diluting the pool of talent and getting fans more invested in Joe as a potential challenger. Again, if the 21-year veteran can’t wrestle, it would be a mistake to pour fuel on those flames without plans to reward viewers at some point.
Nevertheless, there is so much The Right Hand of Destruction can do without undermining members of the roster. He has great worked punches and he is a master of the stereotypical pro wrestling staredown. Even more, his mic skill guarantees that he can dress down anyone before he even lays a finger on them.
The Samoan star is an exciting addition to NXT. He’s invaluable to any program he takes part in and we can’t wait to see more of him in this capacity. However, WWE has to tread carefully because elation can easily turn into disappointment.