Samoa Joe is one of the most under-utilized competitors on the WWE roster, but a breakout year in 2019 can turn that all around for the Samoan Submission Machine.
Samoa Joe needs a big year, but he’s in a time and place that’s very different than it once was. Professional wrestling is in an intriguing time. The rise of budding competition has caused the WWE to begin to present talent that goes beyond their regular focus. Speculation is that both Dean Ambrose and Hideo Itami are looking for greener pastures due, in part, to unhappiness with their use in the WWE.
If that’s the case, it will be interesting to watch how WWE Creative uses some big-name talent that has been marginalized in recent years. One such name on said list is Samoa Joe; a wrestler that we know is capable of main event status. If WWE is truly committed to pushing the best on their roster, 2019 needs to be a breakout year for the Samoan professional.
In May it will be four years since Samoa Joe appeared on WWE television, where he had an intense stare down with Kevin Owens. The excitement was palpable as fans expected Joe to immediately take center stage in NXT and there were several fresh feuds available. As expected, he would capture the NXT Championship after being involved in matches with the likes of Finn Balor, Sami Zayn, Baron Corbin, and Owens.
Even though he won that belt, which was once important in understanding the trajectory of competitors before they moved to the main roster, the interest in Joe was how he would translate to the main roster – a move that was a foregone conclusion.
But two years to the day, looking back on Joe’s time on the main roster would prove that said conclusion was incorrect. Joe has struggled to remain in a prominent position on the card; fluctuating back and forth between the mid-card and the main event.
He reached the point of challenging Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at Extreme Rules that year. Joe was booked in a way that made him seem like a plausible threat to Lesnar; and they put on a hard-hitting and intense match. That moment was perhaps his highest accolade since being called up from NXT. And after two years on the main roster, that’s a disturbing situation for someone as talented as Joe.
Joe was the 8th NXT champion and the first man to hold the title twice. But he’s also one of three NXT champions that have not earned some form of WWE gold while on the main roster. The other two are Andrade Almas and Sami Zayn; two other talented wrestlers that are not used to the best of their abilities.
It’s hard to see how WWE Creative hasn’t had faith in Joe to deliver as a singles title holder. He’s been involved in great matches, and his abilities on the microphone are some of the best in the promotion. He’s one of the few believable heels in the WWE today and even though fans get behind him, he doesn’t struggle to stay on that side of the line as so many others consistently do.
In the last few weeks, he and Mustafa Ali have been involved in a program that continued through Sunday’s Royal Rumble. It’s expected that Ali is going to go over as WWE is high on him, but this is yet another example of how Joe almost never fails to deliver both in and out of the ring.
Those that are watching Joe in the WWE are not getting the best representation of him. Anyone that is familiar with his run prior to jumping ship recognizes that he’s capable of putting on a wrestling clinic.
Look back at his five-star matches with CM Punk in Ring of Honor, versus Kenta Kobashi in 2005 and the TNA triple threat match with AJ Style and Christopher Daniels to recognize that he is one of the best competitors on the WWE roster. Joe might not have the look that is heavily favored with the WWE, but he has shown that he can hang with the best of the best.
This is an exciting time for everyone involved in wrestling. Fans get to enjoy content from promotions around the world and wrestlers are embracing the possibility of making a living outside of the WWE.
As we see these organizations target some of the talented but under-utilized men and women on the WWE roster, one must wonder how much longer we will wait before a major name makes a clear leap. Samoa Joe is struggling on the main roster and 2019 needs to be a big year for him or we may see future stories akin to what’s going on with both Dean Ambrose and Hideo Itami.