Samoa Joe on AEW and ROH Feuds: 'I Want to Beat Everybody Up, You Know?'

The Doctor Chris Mueller@@BR_DoctorFeatured ColumnistApril 22, 2022

Samoa Joe on AEW and ROH Feuds: 'I Want to Beat Everybody Up, You Know?'

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    Credit: All Elite Wrestling

    On April 1 at the Ring of Honor pay-per-view titled Supercard of Honor, Samoa Joe made a shocking appearance at the end of the night, returning to the promotion he helped legitimize for the first time in seven years.

    The Samoan Submission Machine's arrival in ROH coincided with him signing a contract to work for All Elite Wrestling, opening up the possibility of appearing for both promotions once ROH is running full-time again.

    All of this came just three months after Joe and WWE parted ways. We are only a few weeks into his AEW deal and the 43-year-old has already found himself wearing the Ring of Honor Television Championship.

    We had a chance to speak with AEW's newest acquisition to talk about appearing at Supercard of Honor, facing Minoru Suzuki, working with AEW, other interests in and out of the ring, and much more. 

Returning to ROH at Supercard of Honor

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    When the pandemic struck pro wrestling, ROH was hit just as hard as anybody, if not harder. In December 2021, the promotion announced it was going on hiatus and released everyone who was still under contract.

    It was a tough blow for the fans, and it was even tougher on the talent. When Tony Khan announced he had purchased Ring of Honor, many became hopeful that the company would eventually resume operations.

    While there is no timetable on when a weekly show may return, ROH did make a big splash with Supercard of Honor. Joe talked about being the big surprise at the end of the night and what it meant to return to his old stomping grounds. 

    "Obviously, it's always somewhat satisfying coming home and reentering a promotion that you were pretty largely responsible for kind of putting on the map," he said. "Having that ability to come back to ROH and give back to them, especially in this critical time, it's a rare opportunity that many people will never get to experience, so it's one I cherish."

Facing Minoru Suzuki

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    Joe has only been in AEW for a few weeks, but he has quickly put together a string of fun matches. His biggest showdown to date was against Japanese wrestling legend Minoru Suzuki for the ROH TV title. 

    "Obviously, Suzuki is a very accomplished and dangerous individual in his own right," he said. "When it comes to Minoru, he's exactly what I expected. Just a hard-nosed, no B.S., in your face, ready to rock and roll. submission fighter from Japan.

    "He is as billed and it's always fun to get in there and knock around with guys who are made of granite. It's a different kind of feeling. A lot of people can't hang at that level, but Minoru makes it fun."

    The match saw Joe win the ROH TV title for the first time, making him an official triple crown champion in ROH. The bout was noted by many for its brutality and huge number of strikes, but for a veteran such as Joe, it's just another day at the office. 

    "We're all good. Ready for 3,000 more [chops]," he said. "I mean, you know, you gotta understand I've been doing this a while. This tank has been taking shots for quite a while and the armor hasn't broken yet. That may be torture and hell for the normal human being. That's a day in the life of me. And that's not even hyperbole. Bring that all day long. I'm ready for the war."

The Strongest Strikers

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    One of the main things someone needs to be able to do in pro wrestling is know how to throw a good strike. Whether it's a punch, chop, kick, knee or elbow, you have to be able to make it look convincing. 

    Suzuki is known for his striking ability, but he is far from the first guy to leave Joe with welts on his chest.

    "When you talk about guys who are just tremendously powerful and impact in what they do, [Kenta] Kobashi, obviously, is far up there," he said. "[Mitsuharu] Misawa. These are not surprising answers. [Shinya] Hashimoto is another big hitter.

    "You talk about guys in the modern day now, Tommy End [Malakai Black]. He's got a pedigree. He knows what he's doing out there. There are just certain individuals out there who just are very precise and clean with what they do."

Did He Ever Want to Compete in MMA?

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    While pro wrestling is more of a form of entertainment, it shares a lot of DNA with the world of mixed martial arts. Many stars have crossed from one industry to the other, some with great success, notably Brock Lesnar, Ronda Rousey and Ken Shamrock.

    For somebody with Joe's size, athleticism and grappling ability, MMA seems like a natural fit. But it was never a serious consideration for the ROH TV champion.

    "The timing is interesting and obviously I've had a lot of friends who followed that path in life, and I've been very supportive of them through their journey and will continue to be," he said. "I got to kind of see what it was, but at the time when I was kind of in my infancy of what I wanna do in my career, MMA was an outlaw entity.

    "Most of my friends who were professional fighters at the time were really feeling the crunch financially. I was broke. I didn't really have that ability to feel any more financial crunch.

    "To be honest, I've grown up as an entertainer all my life. I was a member of my family's dance troupe. I've always been on stage and what brings me joy is being able to entertain people. The understanding of the mindset of pro wrestling was much more attractive and very much easier for me to get. So I think I just gravitated towards that."

Thoughts on AEW

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    Joe has worked for several different companies during his storied career. Not only has he had runs with ROH and WWE, but he also spent several years with TNA Impact and worked short stints in Mexico and Japan.

    "Every time I step into a locker room, no matter what company it is in the world, I know three-quarters of the people in there already and worked with them or for them for several years," Joe said.

    "It's funny for me, from WWE to ROH to TNA to wherever I go. Whenever I walk into a locker room, a lot of times it feels very much like home because there's still a lot of familiar faces that I'm seeing. And definitely in AEW from the production crew up through the boys in the back and the ladies, just a lot of familiar faces. So it feels like home."

    The AEW locker room has a healthy mix of people from Joe's past and new names who have come up via the indie scene while he was with WWE. Some wrestlers put together lists of potential opponents, but Joe is not as discerning when it comes to who he fights.

    "I want to beat everybody up, you know?" he said. "I want to be in the ring and I want to rough everybody up. There's no delineation between people. If you really want to step up to this blade and you get it on, you want to get out there and see what's what, you know, I'm in. So that's really how I feel about it. Whoever wants it, let's go."

How He Spends His Days off

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    Pro wrestling matches might not be very long by themselves, but the life of a full-time performer is not just a 40-hour working week. For many people like Joe, they end up having less time to themselves than the average person.

    That is why having time off is so valuable. Whether it's spending time with loved ones or popping in a video game, The Samoan Submission Machine makes sure to value his time off. 

    "It really varies," Joe said. "And those [days off] are becoming fewer and far between. If I do have any free time off, it's usually spent around family and friends and just kind of maintaining those relationships.

    "It's tough when you're gone a lot to just give time just to talk with those people you care about and those that are within your family circle. So, my free time is mostly focused on spending time in and around, or interacting with and being there for them at that time. I want to be around those people when I'm off. It's restorative to both of us."

    When he was with WWE, Joe made several appearances on Xavier Woods' UpUpDownDown YouTube channel. While he has not yet become a big Twitch star, he still likes to pick up a controller from time to time. 

    "Video games are of tremendous interest to me," he said. "I play a bit on the road a little bit at home. That's another thing my son has started to enjoy, playing a game here and there. So, I'll get on with him and mess around. I'm sure I will pop up in the gaming space.

    "I guest-hosted a little bit for Kinda Funny a few times and have done a few spots here and there for different friends who run media companies within the video game space. It will definitely be something we'll see in the future, whether it's on Adam Cole's [Twitch] or not. We'll see. There are things in the works."


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    When a young athlete first decides to become a pro wrestler, they tend to have a list of goals in mind. Some want to win a world title, while others might just want to work with a specific person.

    For somebody who has been around as long as Samoa Joe, the concept of goals becomes much different. 

    "I think my goals are tough to state in terms like, 'Oh, I wanna win this championship. I want to do this. I wanna do that,'" he said. "My goals are more kind of pushing the genre, giving a different type of feel to what's being presented in the ring.

    "My goals are kind of experimental too, and that may not catch fire. Maybe they will not be good. Maybe they will be good, but that's really where my goals lie now. I want to test some theories that I've kind of held in my head for a long time and see if they do work. And if they do well, hey, we'll all be on to something great and awesome in the industry."

Would He Ever Consider Doing Commentary Again?

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    While just about everyone prefers seeing Joe in the ring chopping people down to size, he also received a lot of praise during his stint as a commentator in WWE.

    He is currently focused on his in-ring career, but he hasn't ruled out putting the headset back on. 

    "Obviously the allure is there and it's a very, very interesting job," Joe said. "It's one that is very underappreciated and probably people don't realize how difficult it can be.

    "I gained a whole new respect for the play-by-play guys I had a chance to work with in my time behind the desk and the massive amount of responsibility they have to juggle in the live environment. So, it's something I would consider, but it's just a consideration at this point."

Movie Review

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    We always end our AEW interviews with a movie review to give the wrestlers a chance to talk about something other than work. Joe hasn't seen many recent films, so he chose to go into the vault for a comedy from 2006.

    "I haven't watched too much current cinema," he said. "I do recommend everybody go see The Foot Fist Way, though. I think it's a great, great movie. I think it was Danny McBride's first kind of foray on his own.

    "If you grew up in a martial arts environment, you'll notice a lot of the tropes and the trappings. It's a fun movie. I watched it ages ago, but I just recently rewatched it. And I had a hilarious time doing so. I definitely recommend it."


    All quotes were given firsthand to the author and edited for clarity. Follow Samoa Joe on Twitter @SamoaJoe and follow Chris Mueller on Twitter @BR_Doctor