Samoa Joe: Return to the Warpath

Samoa Joe

Samoa Joe was one of the many superstars released during the roster cuts from last Thursday. Despite his lengthy career, he may have the most options available to him of the released stars. The wrestling landscape has changed drastically since Joe signed with WWE in 2015. With so many potential options available, and “The Samoan Submission Machine” nearing the end of his in-ring career, let’s take a look at what could be next for Samoa Joe.

Major League Wrestling

While some may say I’m partial to this pick, as I do weekly previews for MLW FUSION, an actual look at Major League Wrestling as a whole should get any fan excited at the potential of Joe joining the burgeoning promotion. MLW prides itself on its violent style, and Samoa Joe would fit in perfectly. If you need to be sold further on the in-ring fit, let me give you one tagline: “The Samoan Submission Machine vs. The Samoan Werewolf.”

There is no wrestling fan alive who wouldn’t want to see Samoa Joe take on Jacob Fatu. The latter is the most dominant MLW World Heavyweight Champion in history, and given Joe’s own dominant ROH World Championship reign, it would be an easy feud to build.

Still not sold on Joe in MLW? Let me present another potential option, one for if, or when, he decides to hang up the boots. If Fatu vs. Joe doesn’t sell you, maybe Joe joining Contra Unit would pique your interest. Joe would fit perfectly, given his natural intensity. While Contra Unit doesn’t necessarily need help on the mic, Joe would definitely elevate them to another level with his promo ability.

This last one is more from a practical standpoint; MLW is moving to VICE TV, and a star-like Joe will bring plenty of eyes to the promotion. Though this relationship probably does benefit MLW a little more than it does Joe, coming off a run where he was underutilized, this might be just what he needs at this stage of his career.

Ring of Honor

Though not a personal favorite of mine, Ring of Honor has two things working in their favor. The first, as I stated, is that Samoa Joe is getting closer to the end of his career, and many wrestlers like to end their careers where they started. While Joe technically didn’t start in ROH, you can’t argue that is where he started building a reputation for himself. To this day, Joe still holds the record for the longest ROH World Championship reign in the company’s history at 645 days.

The second thing working in their favor is one-third of the reigning ROH World Six-Man Tag-Team Champions, Shane Taylor. This titleholder sent out a simple tweet calling Samoa Joe out, as did many wrestlers. The difference, however, is that Taylor’s has probably gained more traction than anyone else.

Though ROH has seen a decline in popularity in recent years, you cannot deny it’s at least on Joe’s radar.

New Japan Pro Wrestling

Given Samoa Joe’s extensive pre-WWE career, it’s rather surprising he’s never had a true run in New Japan Pro Wrestling. For a man with Joe’s resume, sometimes the most enticing things are the ones that haven’t been done yet. It would be exciting to see Joe have a run in a G1 Climax or even have a spot in a future New Japan Cup. What makes the possibility of Joe in NJPW truly desirable, though, are the matches themselves.

One would have to assume that if Samoa Joe has a list of people he wants to wrestle, Hiroshi Tanahashi has to be near the top of it. Let’s not forget the brawl he could have with Tomohiro Ishii. Also, do not pretend you wouldn’t want to see Joe take on Minoru Suzuki. There’s also the possibility of a battle of submission prowess with Zack Sabre Jr.

I could go on for days talking about the classic he could have with Kota Ibushi or the thrill people would get seeing him beat up Will Ospreay. There is one match-up that trumps them all, though, and that belongs to Kazuchika Okada. While the in-ring acumen of “The Rainmaker” would be more than enough reason to be excited for this, this also has plenty of story to it.

When Okada was a young lion, he spent part of his foreign excursion in TNA. He floated around aimlessly on Xplosion, losing everyone he faced. He was finally brought up as Okato, serving as a sidekick to none other than Samoa Joe. Though Okada credits that experience for helping him create “The Rainmaker” we know today, it was also so bad he has no desire to wrestle anywhere except for New Japan. Whether NJPW would build on that history or not, I’d still love to see Joe get a run in the land of the rising sun.

All Elite Wrestling

You knew this was coming eventually, and it is the leading contender for most fans. With a quick glance at the roster, it’s not exactly hard to see why. Who wouldn’t want to see Joe have a hoss fight with Brian Cage, Lance Archer, or Wardlow? Not to mention the squash match he would have against Marko Stunt; I think that alone would make most fans happy about Joe potentially becoming “All Elite” as the saying goes.

Major money match-ups could occupy the top of the card. He could easily have a fantastic brawl with Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston or join them in a war against The Elite. If that list I mentioned earlier exists, I imagine Kenny Omega‘s name would be on it as well. Joe also fits well in the mid-card of AEW; imagine having him feud with Darby Allin and starting a run as the TNT Champion. Joe would only further legitimize the title and raise his opponents to his level. One obvious route is to have him debut and revisit his alliance with Taz If this happens, though, please avoid the Allin feud.

The final two reasons might make them the most tempting for Joe: money and future opportunities. It’s no secret AEW has the deepest pockets outside of WWE, and that alone would probably be enough to entice Joe. However, they are also expanding their in-ring content, and Joe has more than proven himself as a commentator. If Joe doesn’t want to be behind the announce table, that’s fine; AEW has also been more willing to use managers than WWE. Maybe that will be an easier transition for Joe than sitting behind the desk.

IMPACT Wrestling

I could think of no more fitting an end to this list than to begin where Samoa Joe gained national exposure. Though Ring of Honor introduced him to hardcore fans, TNA gave Joe that next level of exposure. He was booked as an undefeated monster of the X-Division and helped put TNA on the map with their first Meltzer five-star match as he faced AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels in a triple-threat bout for the TNA X-Division Championship. That match elevated not just the three men involved but also the company in the eyes of wrestling fans.

Though many other factors contributed to the company’s survival, including a name change, IMPACT Wrestling would not be here today without the foundation Joe helped lay. With that reputation, it would be so easy for Joe to build a feud with any of the many new faces on the roster. He could easily take umbrage with X-Division Champion, Ace Austin, and blame him for the decline in quality in the very division he helped build.

Of all the names on the roster, Moose probably has the easiest story to build a great feud off of. Though, admittedly, it would be better if Moose still had the TNA World Heavyweight Championship; Joe could talk about how Moose tarnished the legacy of the world title he helped establish.

Regardless of how Samoa Joe decides to walk this path before him, one thing is for sure – he will elevate any company lucky enough to have him.

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