Grin About Them: Samoa Joe

I try to be even more honest than usual on this site, so here goes nothing: I think about Samoa Joe a lot. I think part of that is circumstantial, the result is his current predicament. After all, there’s a weird uncertainty to his presence, a lingering doubt as to what could be next. It’s hard to be hopeful at this point, but clearly, much crazier things have happened, so some optimism lives. Either way, that’s all just one piece of the puzzle, as for me at least, Joe remains one of the industry’s most compelling characters.

His general legacy isn’t dissimilar to his status in 2021 in fact, a complicated but generally uplifting tale. Joe isn’t a sad story, occupying one of the wrestling world’s most appealing positions in an objective, somewhat cold sense. He’s secure, set for another life at the announce booth, expanding his legacy along the way. There’s a sense of relief to that, as not every standout is quite as fortunate but even still, there’s a cloud of sorts hanging over his prior glory. Joe’s legacy isn’t incomplete but yet it feels that way, especially in my more cynical moments.

Samoa Joe should’ve been WWE Champion and I’m borderline ashamed of my own frustration at his omission from that honour. It’s a bit embarrassing really, as Joe almost certainly doesn’t care, like at all. That’s often the case in wrestling though, we don’t live with these people, we just spend a few minutes with them each week. Joe seems rightly content with his triumphant time inside the ropes, even if eager to add another chapter before its too late. I’m a fan though, which makes such objectivity rather difficult.

I mean, I get it, don’t get me wrong. Joe’s peak is historically great and in terms of relevance, he had longevity too. The WWE run is a wonderful addition to his overall standing, as it proved his greatness and added another noteworthy portion to his career. It’s all great, far better than it once looked likely to be but yet here I am, writing about that elusive title reign while he grins wide on RAW. Wrestling fandom is weird huh? We’re so often pursuing feats that the performers themselves see as secondary at best.

Anyway, as you can probably tell, this series will be quite weird. I want to cover some of the performers that for one reason or another, I’m no longer talking about regularly. These are wrestlers that mean something to me, wrestlers that I’m passion about, for better or worse. Joe is one of the top names on that list, just an absolute king. I’ll happily discuss Joe for hours if enabled, so this series is really just that. It’s not a positivity thing, I’m simply doing different things this year, which is fun.

So yeah, Joe, he rules. The Samoa Joe of sixteen or so years ago, that fella’s a genuine all-timer. I don’t mean to be dismissive of the man that’s existed for the last decade and change either, it’s just a tribute to how absurd Joe’s prime was. His work had such immense explosion to it, which made him effective in any setting. He could bring the energy and fire if matched with a lumbering big boy but give him a little lad and it’s over, sheer spite awaits.

Honestly though, all that nerdy stuff is irrelevant if we’re being honest with each other. Joe was and is awesome because of his presence. The man has a genuine aura that’s timeless, regardless of territory. My favourite thing about wrestling is the undying reality that beyond each and every detail, it’s an art built on connecting with people. Regardless of how they do it, that’s the challenge for every wrestler walking through the curtain, it’s about making people feel something. In that regard, Joe is a particularly special case.

Some have to try hard; others require a certain presentation. Joe just walks out and he’s already there, the man is simply cooler than his peers. Heel or babyface, there’s really no difference, his actions can shape that as the performance never changes much. He’s kicking ass either way, it’s really just a case of whose ass he’s kicking. The industry’s superstars are always cited when talking about those that “connect with casual fans” but in my experience, Joe is an effective example himself. It’s a simple act, he’s Joe and he’s “gonna kill you.”

I mean, not you (ideally), but the point remains. Joe gets over on physical confidence alone which honestly, only makes his actual work all the more admirable. Though TNA certainly tested the theory, Joe will generally bring it when the lights are shining bright and when he’s on, oh my. Must say though, I mentioned the slightly complex nature of his standing and even that element fascinates me. I love that for a while, Joe just seemed content to chill. That’s relatable in my view, there aren’t enough mercurial temperaments in pro wrestling.

That’s not a Taker take either. Forget him, he sucks, Joe doesn’t though. Seriously, it’s fun to have guys that quite clearly go through differing spells of form, it adds a quirk that makes those perfect performances hit a little harder. As a fan, I’d even get these bizarre nerves at times, hoping that Joe could deliver when the more analytical onlooker was doubting him. I’d never admit that in the moment of course, it’s lunatic behaviour but yeah, that match with Styles at SummerSlam, cost me a few hours of sleep for sure.

I loved it though, which brought me a joy that’s impossible without a truly sincere connection. Of course, Joe should’ve won but we’ve covered that, for now anyway. So, what’s the point of this? No clue, I just love Samoa Joe and wanted to write about him. I’m a big draft big board guy, meaning that if I can’t make something a sport-style ranking, I’ll assume it sucks. Love doing this with wrestling in particular, pondering the pros and cons for the industry’s titans. Joe usually comes to mind, bringing a grin to my face.

Samoa Joe may have never become the star that some of his greatest peers did, but he got close enough to enter the conversation. It’s one he generally dominates too, or I think so at least. Joe is a versatile worker, immensely skilful and with a striking physicality too. Combine that with the aforementioned charisma and you have something special…. but that’s not even the whole package. There’s a real argument that Joe was the finest promo in WWE’s most recent “era,” with it incredibly becoming his biggest strength.

Joe’s love for Arn Anderson is always palpable in his best promos, making even the most absurd WWE-ness believable. It’s wonderful, another notch in the belt that made him undeniable on that stage. I think that’s the most relieving truth of his career honestly, the reality that he silenced any murmurs of ignorance from the “minor league” dorks. No, Samoa Joe was a major league talent who probably underachieved on his way to a legendary career featuring some iconic highs. Some guys are more than their box score stats though and for me, that’s Joe.

As long as I’m typing away about pro wrestling, I’ll be here, ready to throw Joe’s name into the latest argument or debate. I don’t care what you’re discussing either, just remember Joe because if not, you’ll have his much less impressive namesake coming your way. I may not kill you and considering the topic, probably shouldn’t even try but I’ll inform you of your errors, that much I’m certain of. Samoa Joe huh? What a man, what a wrestler, a symbol of an era that’ll live forever, a timeless talent that’ll be talking to us for decades to come.

I can live with that legacy and for now at least, I’m sure Joe can too.

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