WWE.com published an interview with Samoa Joe at this link.
Below are the highlights:
Finally being under the WWE umbrella: “I’m over the moon. It’s something I never really thought I would have the opportunity to do. To be here now, it’s an unreal feeling.”
Working closely with John Cena in UPW: “I had the chance to work with John quite a bit in UPW and even beyond that. When John was just getting started, we hung out a lot. Being a trainer at the school, I taught the beginner course. John was the type of guy, who even though he was past the basics, he would come to the beginner class in the morning. I would see him at the advanced class at night, where I would go to train and improve.
Later on, along with Brett Wagner, we got a radio show, “Wrestling 101,” which was syndicated across the country. It was a weekend afternoon pro wrestling radio show. John, for extra money, would come in and be the call screener or a guest, or just sit in on the show. That was in addition to traveling to wrestling shows. There were many long road trips from Southern California to Northern California where John and I sat in the car together. Even back then, he was freestyling in the car, trying to battle rap. That was what we did to keep awake on the road.”
If he knew then John Cena would become the star he is today: ”I had no doubt. It’s funny, I’ve been asked that before. He didn’t have to come to the beginner class. He didn’t have to come to all the practices. But John came to all of them; he did all of the work and extra work on top of that. He was so laser-focused on becoming a WWE Superstar, much more than anyone else from UPW who had gotten the opportunity to go to WWE at the time. There really wasn’t a question in my mind that he would become the star he is today.”
Working with Daniel Bryan: “ I’ve had the opportunity to wrestle Daniel Bryan through several phases of his career, except for his time in WWE. What I remember is that he was great the first time I wrestled him, and he kept getting better every match afterward. He would push me because he would improve so much. The first time I wrestled him, he had just come from Shawn Michaels’ school and was tremendously gifted. The next time, was after he wrestled in New Japan and absorbed so much over there. He was even better. After he had a stint in England, wrestling day-in and day-out at the Butlins camps, he picked up the nuances in their style and brought it back, and was even better.
You never face the same Daniel Bryan, but you’re going to face a better Daniel Bryan. If you don’t keep up with that, he’ll eat you alive. He’s another guy like John; he really does the work. I knew that, given the right opportunity, Bryan would knock it out of the park and he has. I really hope that he heals up, because I’d love to get in there with him.”
Working with WWE legends outside of WWE: “It’s a surreal experience when you’re working with guys like Scott Steiner, Kevin Nash and Sting. They were guys that I grew up watching and I saw the heights that they achieved. To walk into work and see you’re going head to head with these guys, it makes you think you’re doing something right.
One of the most pleasurable experiences I had was with a guy who served as a mentor to me and dropped a lot of knowledge my way, Booker T. It was an invaluable experience being in the ring with him.”
What led him to come to WWE now: I’ve had a great career up to this point. I’d pretty much wrestled everywhere in the world. The one place that eluded me was WWE. I had put out feelers to a few friends and confidants in WWE. They did some probing on my behalf. Slowly, but surely, a small glimmer of hope opened up. Talks progressed and the opportunity presented itself.
Reputation of NXT outside of WWE: The reputation NXT has is hard to describe. It’s this newness, there’s a tremendous hype to it. People are seeing the leaps and bounds that are being made with the types of talent filtering through NXT. Like the women, I watched one of the best matches I’ve seen all year with Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks [at NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable].
There’s a lot of hype and I know a lot of guys now on the indies would like to see themselves in NXT. They don’t view it as a B-level, AAA ball club. They see it as an exciting place that people are talking about and love the matches coming out of NXT.
Other goals in WWE: At some time, I would love to make a trip up to the main roster and wreak my brand of havoc. So many people I’ve come up with have succeeded in WWE. Though I thought the opportunity would never present itself, I’m here now. I’m in the best shape of my career and I’m more than happy to fulfill the destiny that has eluded me for far too long, and that’s to be the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
CLICK HERE to read the piece in its entirety.
We just published an extensive article on Joe in WWE with more details on his contract to work down in NXT and what Ring of Honor’s deal with Destination America means for his future there. You can read that detailed piece at this link.