The following are interview highlights with Samoa Joe, who was interviewed on Wrestling Weekly hosted by Doc Young and Les Thatcher...
When special guest Samoa Joe started chatting with Doc and Les, the conversation turned to Joe's recent stint on Jesse James' "Monster Garage." Samoa Joe and CM Punk both participated on the episode where they converted a 1988 U-Haul truck into a hydraulic-powered Box Truck Wrestling Ring. However, the topic quickly changed to Joe's recent decision to sign with TNA instead of the somewhat expected WWE.
Les described Joe's dilemma as "privileged" because his career could have gone several different ways. In fact, his good friend and fellow Ring of Honor (ROH) wrestler, CM Punk, did sign with Vince McMahon. Joe said his reasons for not signing with WWE were primarily because going with TNA "was a better fit for me." He said financially it was better for him to stay with the Indys. This frees him up to still do ROH shows and other independents and because his life is entrenched in Southern California, the traveling situation is better than it would be if he signed with WWE. Plus he added, "You never know who could be on the chopping block," referring to the recent layoffs.
When Joe decided to sign with TNA and his good friend, CM Punk, decided to go with WWE, he said "we talked about it everyday." Punk was already working dark matches, so it worked out well for him. Although Joe hesitated to criticize WWE, he thinks their biggest problem with them is they should let the guys wrestle on their own. "Take the bridle, the bit, the restraints off." He believes that the wrestlers can simply wrestle and tell a story, the story doesn't have to be told by the writers.
Samoa Joe seriously considered temporarily stepping away from wrestling due to burnout prior to signing with TNA. He appreciated making a living at wrestling and not having to get a day job, but after negotiations with New Japan went sour, he considered taking a break from it all. His reason for not continuing with the New Japan Pro Wrestling's Inoki Dojo was he did not want to do some of the things they were asking him to do. Joe did not specify what that was.
Joe talked about his athletic past from vigilantly training with Cincinnati Red in his early days as a wrestling trainee at UIWA's now defunct West Coast Dojo to football to becoming California State Junior Judo Champion. He said Judo was a big factor in his entering professional wrestling, offering more contact than the "traditional Karate." He was also a seasoned traveler from a very young age when he took part in his family's Polynesian dance troop, Tiare Productions. He said, "The show was basically our family." He is one of seven brothers and sisters and everyone danced. "There's no free ticket," he said. The dancing offered great training and experience which included an appearance in the 1984 Olympic opening ceremonies at age 5.
When he was asked about his debut at TNA to go on to defeat Sonjay Dutt, he describes his experience as "really great." At the time he was hired, he assured Dixie Carter and Terry Taylor when he came aboard that "I want you guys to feel good about giving me my paycheck." He also said dropping the ROH Heavyweight Title to Austin Aries was a "welcome relief" after lugging the 15 lb. belt around for a year.
Joe says that although there are a lot of places to work in wrestling, there are very few places where you can make any money. He understands that feds like TNA must rely in bringing in "names" to get people in the seats. He says it "makes sound financial sense" because if a WWE fan goes to a TNA show to see the headliner, maybe the fed can hook them in for the long term so they keep coming back.
Samoa Joe can be seen at TNA is currently participating in a series of ROH events throughout the month of August. You can find out more about Joe by checking his website at www.samoajoe.com.
Wrestling Weekly Radio featuring Doc and Les can be heard every Sunday from 6:00-8:00 pm EST at http://www.wrestlingweekly.com.
-We appreciate newstips and live event results from readers. For our direct email links, click here.