OSHAWA, ON – Making an impact is nothing new for Samoa Joe. For some time now, the Los Angeles-based grappler has strived to carve out his own unique stage in the world of professional wrestling.
While his imposing frame and intimidating facials alone warrant attention, his diverse and intense wrestling style has made him into a respected athlete, ever ready to deliver a show stealing performance in the ring.
For awhile, only die hard fans of the independent circuit knew of his exploits, but now mainstream fans are getting a first hand look at the wrestling bulldozer called Samoa Joe, now an active member of Total Nonstop Action (TNA).
“It feels pretty good,” remarked Joe in an interview with SLAM! Wrestling at the recent Warrior 1 Wrestling show held in Oshawa. “It’s been a really positive experience with the company (TNA). They seem to have a real flare for doing good things with me. It’s been fun so far.”
Good may be an understatement when it comes to analyzing Samoa Joe’s impact on the promotion thus far. He made his debut on TNA’s Slamminversary Pay Per View (PPV) in June, taking on the returning Sonjay Dutt. In typical fashion, Joe made an immediate impression with fans via his hard-hitting, submission brand of wrestling.
“I think the debut went a lot better than what people were expecting,” said Joe. “TNA pretty much said ‘Hey listen, go out there and do your thing and show us what you got.’ I did and it seems to have been received very well. Sonjay is an incredible athlete, an incredible wrestler — it’s always good to get in there with a guy like that.”
His momentum only continued to build, when in the following No Surrender PPV in July, Samoa Joe and his opponent Chris Sabin delivered what many considered to be the match of the night. Joe is now in the hunt for championship gold in the 2005 Super X Cup tournament.
Away from the cameras, Joe told of entering the TNA environment and seeing many familiar faces in the locker room. “Going in, I felt real comfortable in the locker room. I’ve worked with a lot of these guys for several different promotions across the world — guys like AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels — it’s definitely a comfortable atmosphere. I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can do with TNA.”
Samoa Joe signs an autograph at the recent Warrior 1 Wrestling show in Oshawa. Photo by Corey David Lacroix.
Signing with TNA is giving Samoa Joe the ability to enhance his fiscal situation with a more secure line of income, being of the rare few capable of making a living on independent bookings alone.
“I’m one of the few that has come onto the indy level with no previous big company experience who is making a living on the indy circuit. It’s a very rare thing to be able to do and I’ve been fortunate to carve out a nice living for myself. The way the TNA deal worked out is that I can still work my indy dates, I can still work other shows. It’s definitely very financially rewarding for myself at this point,” noted Joe.
Now receiving unprecedented exposure with TNA, Samoa Joe is bridging the gap between himself and those fans who only knew of him via the internet
“Promotional wise, it’s great. I’m being seen on a much wider scale. I encounter a lot of fans saying ‘I’ve always heard about you.’ That’s the big thing with a lot of pro wrestling fans. We always hear about Samoa Joe, but they’ve never actually seen me wrestle, especially if you’re not into the Ring of Honor product or you don’t really collect international DVDs and the Japanese stuff. I get a lot of fans saying ‘I saw you for the first time on TNA and wow, you really impressed me.’
So will Samoa Joe be in action at TNA’s Sacrifice PPV on August 14? Stay tuned.
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Corey David Lacroix can be emailed at [email protected].