Samoa Joe has plenty of MMA influence, but we were never close to seeing him follow the route that so many crossover stars did.
Using a rear naked choke as a finishing move, and a physical style that rose in prominence as did the UFC, many tied Samoa Joe and his clear MMA influence. Unlike CM Punk, Brock Lesnar, Bobby Lashley, and numerous others, Joe told Fightful recently that he never really considered making the move over to the MMA cage.
"No, ‘cause I came up in Southern California when it was outlawed, and all my friends were MMA fighters were not making money except for, like, two. So, it just really wasn’t financially feasible at the time. But since then I was just too old to get back into it, ‘cause I don’t lie to myself. I know the elite athletes, I know what they do. You’re just gonna get hurt," Joe told Fightful.
Joe's in-ring style wasn't the only influence from MMA we've seen in his career. During a breakout feud in TNA Wrestling over a decade ago, Joe and Olympic Gold Medalist wrestler Kurt Angle had an MMA-style match inside a cage at Lockdown 2008. For Joe, he's not that surprised to see so many others adopt the style he's borrowed from for years.
"I think that’s kind of par for the course, as things evolve, as a audience becomes more educated to combat forms and styles that maybe guys who were with martial arts knew about for years. You have to expand the game. Obviously they’ve changed perception. I remember when sleeper holds were something, oh, you came keep one on for six minutes. It’s a little bit different now. That’s all from MMA," Joe said.
You can see our full conversation with Samoa Joe above, and check out our interviews section for hundreds of talks with pro wrestlers.