Last night, The Samoan Submission Machine pulled a fast one on pretty much every dirt sheet out there, when he appeared at NXT Takeover: Unstoppable. This was despite having only recently booked a whole bunch of indie dates for later in the year. Samoa Joe has been linked with the move to WWE since he left TNA earlier in the year and considering the talent set Joe has, it would have been a huge mistake by WWE not to leap at the chance. However, we have seen talented guys go in and out of WWE before and you have to ask whether Joe is one of the guy to make it to the top of the ladder?
If we are talking pure talent, then there is no doubt. Joe is one of the best wrestlers out there and while his hard-hitting style is definitely more suited to NXT than Raw. The bursts of space the big man can pull of should quickly insure that any crowd gets behind him. Despite being a big man, Joe also has incredible stamina. During his time in ROH he was involved in incredible hour-long encounters with people like CM Punk and his matches with Kurt Angle in TNA are worth anyone’s time. When it comes to wrestling ability, Joe is another one of those wrestlers who is capable of putting on a clinic with anyone.
On the flip side, his mic skills are not the best. Joe can talk, but he’s no Kevin Owens or CM Punk. When Joe is best is when he is a silent killing machine. The guy who comes out and kicks your ass without caring about what anyone thinks. The problem is, that is both an incredibly simple character to book and an incredibly hard one. A lesson TNA learnt. A guy of that skill set needs to win matches and as we have seen time and time again, there is only so long that WWE is willing to let people go unbeaten. If Joe goes up to the main roster, wins for a couple of months and is fed to Cena (as so many before him) then he loses that air of mystery. He’s not a Jericho, who can take loses and talk his way out of them on the mic. The guys need to be a machine.
One of the biggest issues Joe might have faced, does already appear to have been knocked on the head though. Just who was he going to be in WWE? The fact that he came out last night not as Rikishi JR or a Samoan savage with a manager, was a good first step. Staying Samoa Joe makes the guy seem legit. He is so good the WWE don’t need to change anything, they can let him be himself. The last guy to get that treatment was a certain CM Punk and while it might have taken a while, that turned out alright. Joe the man is already a brand and with the likes of Stone Cold and JR having paid tribute to him on both their podcasts and social media, him keeping that identity is a big deal.
The final problem Joe could face is about his identity as well. Although this one is purely image based. Joe does not look like at athlete, there is no getting past that. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a problem that I have, but it is no secret where Vince’s tastes lie. I worry that Joe in NXT with Triple H calling the shots is a killing machine, but Joe in WWE where Vince calls the shots is a fat bloke. He’s not tall enough to pull it off in the way someone like Big Show does and he’s no way near big enough to go Yokozuna with it. If Vince is ever even allowed to start doing comedy sketches revolving around Joe’s weight, then the end is nigh.
Samoa Joe could be huge. He has been, for at least a period, the most dominant guy in every company he has worked for and there is no reason WWE should be different. With the likes of Kevin Owens and the unconquerable Brock Lesnar, WWE are building up a group of guys who can go out into the ring and pound people into the ground with ease. It’s genuinely exciting. I swear I end nearly every article about the E with this statement, but the worry now has to be whether they know exactly what to do with them.
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