Joe is excited about the new match-ups that are at his disposal on SmackDown Live.
In the summer of 2015 Samoa Joe was exclusively signed to WWE. Just one year later he captured the NXT Championship at an NXT live event a few weeks after WrestleMania. Prior to his quick rise in the ranks of the WWE Joe's expectations for his run in the company were reserved due to what he had heard from those who were in WWE before him. ESPN caught up with "The Destroyer" to get his take on coming into any company or promotion and having an open mind to do business.
"My expectations of the WWE before I entered the company [compared to] now, I think those expectations and those preconceptions are vastly different," said Joe. "For the majority of my career I worked everywhere but the WWE. You come into contact with people who had worked there formerly and people that work there currently, and you kind of base your ideas on what it's like there off of their experiences -- what they share with you. At the same time, I've always been a firm believer in... I judge and I deal with people, companies, based on our business and honestly the WWE has been extremely professional in all my dealings with me, astonishingly so."
Now that Joe is a part of the SmackDown Live roster by way of the 'Superstar Shake-Up' he is excited about the match-ups that are available for him on the blue brand. He shared a list of competitors on the brand who he is looking forward to mixing it up with but one in particular Joe feels is bound to happen is a match between himself and a man who held every championship Joe held while they both were at the forefront of TNA; AJ Styles.
"Shinsuke Nakamura, Randy Orton, Rusev; these matches that I think a lot of people would have wanted to see over the past five or six years, and now that I'm on SmackDown those matches have a real possibility of happening. I'm excited about it. A lot of fresh faces, a lot of new opponents, and a lot of good fights to pick, so I'm looking forward to doing it." Joe continued, "I think at this point it's beyond potential, and it's something that's gonna happen. People talk about the Kevin Owens/Sami Zayn relationship and how they'll be fighting forever but in reality when it comes to me and AJ Styles, I defy anybody to find two guys who have been battling against each other longer than us."
The former two-time NXT Champion would go on to praise AJ Styles for the superstar that he has become and the respect that "The Phenomenal One" has earned for himself over the years.
"AJ, his moniker speaks for itself. He's a phenomenal athlete, he's been a fantastic champion and a superstar for WWE," said Joe. "A lot of the wider WWE Universe hasn't been able to experience what Samoa Joe-AJ Styles is and if there's one thing that we've always known about each other it's that whenever we get in the ring, things get a little bit more intense. There's just a little bit extra 'oomph' with everything that happens. That rivalry was started over a decade ago and rest assured it will continue in WWE. Obviously, it's nothing you really plan for and I think that a lot of guys who work in the industry know this too," said Joe. "If you find type of success and critical acclaim, usually that comes with finding these opponents who you just mesh with and when you guys get into a ring it all clicks and it makes for some epic encounters. Rarely do you find that guy or predetermine that person. It's more as you get along in your career you start working in different places and around the country and maybe even around the world, you find that natural rival," Joe said. "You find that person that whenever you guys get in the ring it's fantastic and AJ is one of those guys. He's one of those guys in my career that consistently, wherever I went, wherever I traveled, I saw AJ Styles. He was right there with me. [If] I went in and I found success, AJ Styles found success there."
Speaking of rivalries Samoa Joe is in the process of putting his rivalry with Roman Reigns to rest. This upcoming Sunday at 'Backlash' to the two men will square off one-on-one. There are also five other matches on-tap for the action-packed card and to view the current lineup for the event, click here.