Samoa Joe is well-traveled in the wrestling world.
The current SmackDown superstar was at the forefront of the rise of Ring of Honor and TNA, holding the World Title in both companies. After leaving TNA, Joe showed up in NXT, working with a loose agreement. After merchandise sales got back to Triple H, the two sides reached a full-time contract. Despite signing with NXT, many believe Vince McMahon would not want Joe on the main roster. In fact, Joe himself was told that Vince didn't see him as main roster material.
Speaking to The Gorilla Position, Joe discussed expectations and what was discussed with Triple H upon signing.
"When (Vince not wanting me) was told to me, I didn’t sit back and go, ‘Man this is just them disrespecting me and what I’m able to do’ and I think a lot of guys do-do that because its hard dealing with business and ego and its really, really tough. That being said, Hunter also saying that because he makes a real big point and its been this way at least in my business dealings with him that he does not overpromise guys. He offers you an opportunity where there could be a big upside if things go well and the business opportunity between you and WWE… you know, that was the case with that," said Joe "I mean, he was just being real honest. I think that he knew what my capabilities were. He knew the level that I could perform at but he also knew that there were still some stigmas internally within the company that needed to be smashed and needed to be rethought, and for me… these are all unspoken things but these are things that I knew."
Hearing that he was unwanted was not new ground for Joe. According to him, he's been unwanted by every major organization he's ever worked for.
Joe stated, "I’ve literally been unwanted by every company who’s ever hired me. From Ring Of Honor - Gabe Sapolsky came up to me and said, ‘We don’t have money to fly you out from California. This is not a regular gig so don’t get your heart set’, and that was kind of unsolicited which was weird but after the first match he’s like, ‘Hey, you’re booked on everything from now on until forever.'TNA, I remember sitting at the gorilla position and a guy who I think the world of and is actually hilarious and is a good friend now - Dutch Mantel, he looks at me goes, ‘Hey you only get one chance to make a first impression kid. Doesn’t look like you’re about to make a good one. Alright, go get em,'" recalled Joe. "TNA wasn’t in a situation where they were clamoring and chopping at the bit to get me. They were trying to make some weird deal when they didn’t have TV so they wanted more of an internet presence so, as they told me, ‘Hey, we heard you’re a really over internet guy’. I believe that was the exact quote sent to me in the email, which I thought was hilarious. That's my thing -- I know once I get a foot in the door, I wreck. I kick it open and I make the opportunity."
In TNA, AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels had been pushing for the company to hire Joe for months, but Jarrett constantly turned them down. It wasn't until Mick Foley backed Joe that Jarrett listened and gave Joe an opportunity.
Joe spent over five years in Ring of Honor and a decade in TNA before finally signing with WWE/NXT in 2015.