Samoa Joe has discussed his first taste of gold within WWE, capturing the NXT Championship at a house show in Lowell, Massachusetts.
Even before stepping foot in WWE, Samoa Joe was a force to be reckoned with in professional wrestling. Making a name for himself on the independent scene, Joe arrived at NXT in 2015 as an in-ring veteran. A former UPW, TNA, and Ring of Honor World Heavyweight Champion, Joe was already a notable performer, celebrated by fans and peers alike.
Quickly making an impact in NXT, Joe solidified himself as the ‘Samoan Submission Machine.’ An undeniable talent, it seemed to be a matter of time before Joe reached the top of the NXT mountain.
Samoa Joe eventually captured the NXT Championship in April 2016 in a hard-fought battle against Finn Balor. Notably, the bout took place away from television cameras at a house show on a Tuesday evening. When recalling the event on a recent episode of ‘Out of Character’ with Ryan Satin, Joe remembers being all for the win in front of an unsuspecting audience:
“Oh I loved it, that is kind of what I signed up for. Those completely out of left field ‘What are they doing?’ ‘This is not right! No, no, no wait it is right.’ ‘It’s so right it’s the greatest thing ever.’ ‘No, it’s the worst thing ever.’ ‘It’s the greatest thing they’ve ever done.’ ‘No, it’s the worst mistake they ever made. Me and Finn were onboard from the very beginning. When Hunter pitched it to us the Chesire cat smile came across both our faces was massive. At the time I agree it should have been that. Finn was hot. Let’s not beat him on TV, let’s do it on a house show. We want it to be a part of the NXT shows we want the unpredictability.”
Typically, major championship victories tend to take place during televised events. Though there have been exceptions to the rule, perhaps most notably Diesel’s WWF Championship win over Bob Backlund at a Madison Square Garden house show, fans are most likely to see a new champion crowned when television cameras are rolling.
Despite his first championship victory in WWE not being televised, Samoa Joe remembers the moment fondly:
“It was a really wonderful night. It was great for us and great for me because I won the NXT Championship. But the fans that night. They do a quick pan of the crowd and their faces, and the shock and elation. People are hugging and jumping like they just won the World Series. I know they were booing me 3 minutes before but what just happened? Where are we? Are there TV cameras somewhere. It was an amazing experience and to have the opportunity to do that at this level is an absolute rarity and hasn’t been done in an age. I loved it.”
Samoa Joe left NXT for Raw in January 2017. However, following his WWE release in April 2021 Joe made a swift return to the yellow brand in June with Joe revealing he was actually let go and brought back on the same day. Though no official plans have been announced regarding a return to in-ring action, Joe himself has speculated over who he would like to face should he return to the squared circle.
If you use any quotes from the article please do so with a h/t and link back to Inside The Ropes.