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Thread: Kiss Me I'm IrishSarah - Samoa Joe and the ROH 4

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    Kiss Me I'm IrishSarah - Samoa Joe and the ROH 4

    Kiss Me I'm IrishSarah - Samoa Joe and the ROH 4

    Same old rules. I don’t do this for a living. I am not a journalist. I am not a writer. I do not have a job in pro wrestling. I have never wrestled a match. I hated Journalism class. If you have comments about my writing style, the composition of this article, my grammar, my spelling, my structuring of the column or how I could improve it? I don’t want to hear it. It isn’t important to me and its not why I wrote this column. I wrote this in down time at work. I didn't proofread it. I didn't spell check it. If that bothers you, stop reading now. If you disagree with me? Good, make your case. Make it on points and defend them. This is supposed to stimulate conversation.

    This turned into something I didn’t intend. I was going to just delete it. But I am going to post the whole column as I wrote it because fuck it why not. I wrote it in about 6 sittings over the last week. It probably needs a good edit. When I saw the Raw rating, I realized that people (honestly mostly Raw’s female demographic) bailed on the last hour of Raw. The fault is probably the WWE’s for not establishing him on the main roster before demanding that he carry the main event. But anyway. I asked myself the simple question. Who is Samoa Joe and why should we care?

    The answer I got was complicated. It took me down a path I wasn’t expecting. It brought me into the indies in 2002. It brought me back to Japan in 2001. It brought me not just to Samoa Joe but to the other guys who made up the stars of that culture.

    My Language gets a bit salty in this one. Parental discretion is advised.

    Kiss me I'm Irish Sarah

    Past is Prologue

    Samoa Joe and the Ring of Honor Four

    The Setting

    Lets go back to the wrestling world after 2001 and the death of WCW and ECW. There was this whole group of that were denied their spot. In previous generations, these talents eventually would have found a place in the NWA territory system or the WWE and WCW (and the dregs to ECW) and they would have come up and eventually got over. But in 2001, the system died. The WWE had a flush of veteran talent. This meant that the WWE could be picky. The spots that normally would have fallen to some young 22 year old kid fell instead to Rob Van Dam or Rey Mysterio. Even if you could get a tryout you had to be exactly what Vince wanted from a Pro Wrestler. A blank canvas.

    I know it may seem weird today but there was time where to get in the WWE, you had to come out of their developmental territory. Experience was a bad thing. They had a roster filled with stars in their prime and experience between the ropes was looked down upon. In order to even get a look from the WWE, you had to be 6'1, 240 pounds and in good shape. You couldn’t have built a name elsewhere and you had to have little to no experience in professional wrestling.

    There was a lot of talent though, who did not fit that type. They were too small, too experienced, too short, too fat, too weird looking to fit the WWE’s ideal of what a star looked like. These were the wrestlers who stayed true to what wrestling’s roots were. The ring opera of live theater. The art form that was practiced in high school gyms, American Legion Halls, Elk’s lodges, bingo halls and local municipality buildings. These wrestlers didn’t work in front of millions at stadiums or thousands in arenas. They plied their craft in front of 300 to 800 die hard fans screaming their guts out for their local promotion. With their dream of going to the WWE seemingly denied, At best they could hope for a few tours of Japan, maybe a summer starving in Puerto Rico or a few TV checks from a start up fed like the XWF. These were the hopes and dreams of weekend warriors that created, in some places in the country, The Independent Wrestling Scene. Sure, some of it was the garbage wrestling of Combat Zone Wrestling, or the ECW Cosplay of an MLW/PWU show. Sure some of it was imitating the Japanese style that the guys themselves saw on their fourth generation tape of Best of the Super Juniors. But it was different and these Independent wrestler drove up and down the roads, for no money, paying their dues and waited for a train that might never come. It was out of these small independent promotions that a new type of star began to emerge. They weren’t the traditional 6ft1 bodybuilder or the legit tough guys that dominated the other eras. These stars were the misfits, the outcasts the guys who didn’t fit the Hollywood style of the WWE. Even these indy promotions had stars.

    After ECW closed, if the WWE didn’t want you then there was no chance at the big time. So, these talents started to travel the small independents that sprung up in the wake of Vince and the Monday Night Wars killing the business. The thing is, after the death of ECW, the East Coast was still a hot wrestling scene. They had a hardcore, smark, and interested fanbase trained to buy a ticket and support local wrestling shows. Thus the indies were born. These small federations (which usually never drew more than a few thousand and almost always lost money) catered to a hardcore fanbase.

    An elite began to emerge from the mostly Northwest indies. Guys like Low Ki, Chris Daniels, The Havana Pitbulls (including a guy you may know Rocky Romero) Spanky. AJ Styles and yes a fat kid from southern California. When talking about the best of these elite indy workers, breaking their bodies for a few hundred bucks each weekend, sarcastically, on the IWC you would call them the best wrestler in the World Or The King of the Indys.

    King of the Indys

    The first time I heard the term “King of the Indies”. It was about Steve Corino. Some of you may not know who Steve Cornio is (I really should write a column about him) but Steve Corino is the best wrestler you never heard of. In ECW, his gimmick was The King of Old School. In a match against Shina Hashimoto for the NWA World Title … you know what … Fuck It … I’m telling the whole story.

    Sidebar : October 13, 2001 NWA 53rd Anniversary Show St. Petersburg, Florida. Attendance 300 people. Shinya Hashimoto vs Steve Corino - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dh5kJrPLhHg

    Steve Corino had just done a tour for Pro Wrestling Zero1. He got together with The Zero1 office and hatched a plan to put the belt on Hashimoto in shocking fashion. See, in those days it was common to give the sheets the results of the shows before the shows started (because the dirt sheets reporting your results acted as advertising for your wrestling promotion). The NWA announces Corino wins via DQ and Corino retains the World title. So Steve Corino and Hashimoto have a stiff match. During the match, Hashimoto starts raining in stiff shoot kicks and they do a shoot knockout angle. The ref calls for the bell and Steve is PISSED. It looks like Shinya Hashimoto shot on him and took the title. It worked everyone in the building. The smarks were chanting Fuck Hashimoto. The boys thought it was a shoot. The Sheets reported the DQ and everyone bought it. Until, 2 days later, NWA President Howard Brodie told the sheets it was a work and that there was no shoot which killed the heat for the angle and pretty much dealt a serious blow to Zero1’s relationship with the NWA. But in the coverage of this, they called Steve Corino the King of the Indys. After this, Steve Corino would spend most of his time in Japan, being the main gaijin wrestler for Zero1 and the Gaijin booker, bringing a lot of the stars of the indies to Japan for the first time like Brian Spanky Kendrick, Low Ki and Samoa Joe. End Sidebar

    So somehow the King of the Old School became the King of the Indies. If you had a show and King Corino had an empty weekend? Pay him his rate (he was always negotiable) he was there. Wrestle the local star? Sure. The Owner wants to interfere in the match? Why not. Get Color for 70 people in a barn? You must be out of your mind! But sure, if you pay him enough, he would do it. Steve Corino became a top indy draw without ever stepping foot in a WWE ring.

    Best in the World

    The next person I saw get called King of the indys was CM Punk. In 2005, CM Punk had reportedly been offered a contract in the WWE. The IWC exploded and here especially. People were calling CM Punk the best in the world. I asked someone why they thought this skinny tattooed guy was the best wrestler in the world and a poster here (I think it was Missouri Dragon but if it was anyone else please forgive me) Pm’ed me a link to Punk vs Joe II. I will get to some individual matches later but let me say this about CM Punk. People in power gave Punk the derisive nickname “The King of the Indys” as a slight but in a lot of ways I think it was one of CM Punk’s greatest strengths. A lot of the top stars in the WWE today used the indies as a way to get over with an extremely loyal fanbase. But a lot of guys like Kevin Steen and Samoa Joe used the indies as a place to be creative where the traditional rules and boundaries didn’t apply. These talents grew up on the tapes of Misawa, Kawada, HBK and Benoit. Unlike the previous generation, the wrestling “mark” for the first time really had access to this wealth of knowledge and so did the talents. The workers were marks just like the fans in the stands. It gave the wrestlers the freedom to develop a particular skillset which benefits them today. That freedom to create is what allows Kevin Owens to bring in spots from his time on the indies and elevate them to the WWE. It allows guys like Samoa Joe to have that magnetism as a real killer and it even helps guys like Steve Corino and Jimmy Jacobs backstage with the WWE use their knowledge and skills of wrestling to really create something special. The DIY nature of the indies makes better professional wrestlers and I think HHH understands that. This is why that Kings like Seth Rollins, Samoa Joe and AJ Styles, didn’t have to take the path that Daniel Bryan and CM Punk had to take, repaying their dues and working from the bottom up. Those guys can stand of the shoulders of giants.

    Ring of Honor

    If you, dear reader, were going to look at the indies from 2002-2008, there would be only two or three shining examples of independent wrestling. And only one who could be considered the number 3 company in the US. Ring of Honor took the sport base of Japanese wrestling and placed it lovingly in the splayed chest of wrestling fans who had their heart ripped out by the loss of ECW (and to a lesser extent WCW). Using ECW’s heartlands and distribution system (RF Video), ECW office veteran Gabe Sapolsky and Cary Silkin built a venue for a group of young, hungry talents to go out there and steal the show. Ring of Honor was the first promotion since ECW to develop a successful business strategy and implemented it well enough to survive. They did so by using a strategy not unlike the Moneyball system invented by Billy Beane and Bill James. ROH was a wrestling federation with modest resources that were dwarfed by the WWE. Gabe went against every ingrained assumption on what made a great talent. He found hidden gems who’s skills were more uneven and who’s abilities were more specialized strengths. He took Paul Heyman’s lessons on camouflaging a guy’s weaknesses and matched it by providing a product which was completely different than anyone else was putting on TV. The blood soaked, boundary pushing, death match style of wrestling seemed so 90s. Gabe instead found something that the WWE and even other indies like CZW weren’t providing. That Sport of Professional Wrestling. Sure, Ring of Honor is just another indy today. It relies mostly on Foreign talent to draw. It has lost most of what made it different and in today’s world of access, ROH has not been able to maintain the quality like PWG or some of the British companies have. Today is different. Hunter Delirious and Joe Koff are killing ROH. But there was a time where Ring of Honor was truly revolutionary. Those This is Wrestling chants? Ring of Honor. Like ECW before it, Ring of Honor’s influence probably far outstrips it’s earnings. Much of the “Big Match” style you see in the WWE today comes from that “Spot Monkey” style of ROH where pace, huge moves, near falls and a lack of selling became the norm for talents all over the world. They took that cruiserweight style and merged it with a Japanese based King’s Road style and made something new quite different from Vince’s WWF match or even the Memphis style of ECW. Today’s top matches look much more like an ROH match from 2004 than it does a WWE match or New Japan match from 2004.

    Sidebar Gabe Sapolsky never gets the credit he deserves. Gabe was easily the greatest talent evaluator of his era. Without the support that Heyman received, without the boon of weekly television, without the benefit of natural fanbase, Gabe took ROH from running monthly shows in the Murphy Recreational Center in front of 200 people, to running big shows all over the US including events in New York City, England, Japan, and Canada. The ROH World Title was a legitimate World Title and one of the most recognized in the world. ROH was the top indy company in America when Gabe was fired. End Sidebar

    The ROH 4

    Everyone talks about the Smackdown Six and the OVW Class of whatever but if you asked me no one changed wrestling more than those first stars of ROH. AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Bryan Danielson and CM Punk. The talent contained in the first few years of ROH is a who’s who of indy wrestling. Christopher Daniels, Low Ki, Bryan Danielson, The Briscos, Colt Cabana and Homicide all wrestled for ROH in it’s first year of existence. . Even vets like Steve Corino became synonymous with ROH. But at the end of the day, in my opinion, the story of the beginning of ROH starts with those four Wrestlers. Without these four wrestlers Jon Moxley probably doesn't become Dean Ambrose, Tyler Black doesn't become Seth Rollins and Kevin Steen certainly doesn’t become Kevin Owens. Wrestling today might look very different.


    Bryan Danielson – You may know the American Dragon better as Daniel Bryan, America’s Sweetheart, but to me he will always be that shit heel screaming “I GOT TIL 5 REF!” as he tries to get the most miles out of an illegal hold. Bryan was in the main event on the first Ring of Honor Show. He wrestled Low Ki and Christopher Daniels in a Triple Threat match. ( http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x53qmxl ) He was 20 years old. Danielson was only 5 feet 8 inches tall. The WWE was never going to see him as a highly rated prospect. But Bryan Danielson was a grinder. He created great matches in ROH. Danielson won the inaugural Survival of The Fittest tournament and had a great match with Aries for the World Title (in a great 2/3 falls match) In September 2004,Bryan had tryouts for both the WWE and TNA and was rejected by both. Danielson stuck with ROH and was World Champion in 2005. Beginning in 2005, Danielson began a legendary run in ROH. Danielson was ROH World Champion for 15 months. He unified the ROH World Title with the ROH Pure Title (a title I dearly miss) in an amazing feud Nigel McGuinness (New WWE commentator) and defended his World Title against KENTA (now Hideo Itami). In that match with KENTA, Daniel Bryan separated his shoulder and not only did he work the match anyway but he also wrestled Colt Cabana for 50 minutes after separating his shoulder initially. in 2007, Danielson suffered a detached retina from a punch to his eye in a match against Morishima, but he wrestled for another 15 minutes before taking the pinfall. Bryan Danielson is a professional wrestler who exemplified the indy spirit of the era. You worked, you sacrificed, even if it was just 400 fans.

    Bryan Danelson vs feud Nigel McGuinness to unify the ROH World Title and the ROH Pure Title - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nb8yBqnvqRI

    Bryan Danielson vs Takeshi Morishima
    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x34qu3o

    Cesaro vs Daniel Bryan but in ROH
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QG2B_-RUl2w

    CM Punk - Phil Brooks was 24 when he walked into ROH. He had been wrestling the indies and had started to build a reputation in places like Ian Rotten’s IWA:MS. It was Ring of Honor which made CM Punk a King of the Indies. CM Punk before he came to ROH, he was wrestling his friends around the loops. He was wrestling most of his matches with his best friend Colt Cabana. When he got to ROH, Gabe took a chance on him and programmed him with Raven. He used promos and post match interviews on DVDs to build a feud between CM Punk and Raven. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bf_WeCDOVxY) He brought in guys like Terry Funk to work with CM Punk and when Punk would wrestle Raven, the DVDs sold. (CM Punk vs Raven: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bf_WeCDOVxY_ ) Punk was launched into the biggest heel ROH had. Everything he touched drew. I will talk about one of his matches in a minute. CM Punk had some amazing matches in ROH. He didn’t have quite the “technician” following like someone like Daniels or Samoa Joe developed and he wasn’t the spot monkey of a Chris Daniels or Kevin Steen(Owens). His promos were hot fire though. He had some really great matches in ROH even if they weren’t Mat Classics. Colt and Punk vs The Briscos from Death before Dishonor II is worth digging out if you can find it. CM Punk made ROH his stage. But for me, one of the greatest things I ever saw, one of the most heel things I ever saw, was CM Punk signing his WWE contract on his ROH World Title. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2pH8t5xEgw) The final heel run of CM Punk’s during that Summer of Punk is one of the greatest DVDs ever made. If you have a few dollars, I fully endorse it. The Summer of Punk was 3 months after he announced he was leaving ROH and he was going to take the ROH title with him.

    CM Punk vs AJ Styles Ring of Honor - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vheK4XqI7GQ

    Sidebar The Summer of Punk only worked because “Selling out” to the WWE was a bad thing. The WWE did something I thought was impossible. Somehow going to WWE didn’t get you heat anymore. NXT (and to a lesser extent Raw and Smackdown today) now means when you announce your leaving that home promotion, the people chant “you Deserve It” instead of “You Sold Out”. Coming from my ECW upbringing it is a pretty remarkable face turn for the biggest wrestling company in the world. End Sidebar

    AJ Styles – Uncle Allen’s first match in ROH was on April 27, 2002. It was the third event ROH ever put on. AJ had an amazing match with Low Ki which was one of the things that helped put ROH on the map nationally (it got a 4.5 stars from Meltz). AJ was a young talent in ROH and he was still sharpening his skills. AJ put on some amazing spots and worked some amazing matches. It was these matches which would lay the groundwork for the X-Division in TNA.

    AJ Styles vs Paul London - https://vimeo.com/19599894

    Much like Samoa Joe, Chris Daniels and the other stars of the TNA X-Division, TNA stole AJ Styles. After letting their talent work for other companies like Ring of Honor, TNA made their talent exclusive after ROH’s Feinstein scandal. But 8 years after AJ Styles left ROH, he returned to the indies. He had some great matches (which I had originally intended to show Kyle O’Rilley vs AJ Styles from Death Before Dishonor but someone killed the ROH googledrive) and really showed that with age, bring an economy of movement. AJ has learned to do more with less. Sure, now he is a former WWE World Champion and no one will ever take that away from him.

    AJ Styles vs Kevin Steen from House of Hardcore - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3EPGcBouXM

    Now ladies and gentlemen. Now I am done talking about the guys you all know. Your CM Punk (WWE World Champion) Daniel Bryan (WWE World Champion) and AJ Styles (WWE World Champion) I present to you, the best of them all, Samoa Joe.

    Samoa Joe

    Samoa Joe is one of my favorite wrestlers of all time. There was a time on this forum where I hated TNA but always pulled for Samoa Joe. There was something about him that I liked. Something that reminded more of Harley Race than Hulk Hogan. Samoa Joe has a thickness, a rugged toughness that attracts me to his talent. When Joe was young, he had speed and athleticism which he matched with a vicious moveset more reminiscent of All Japan Pro Wrestling than anything else I was watching in the states. Samoa Joe’s rating for Monday’s final hour made me realize for many of my readers and friends, the Samoa Joe you know was the Samoa Joe at the end of his TNA run. A lower midcard guy in a lower midcard company on a lower mid card cable provider. Samoa Joe is much more than that Samoa Joe is a Legend.

    Samoa Joe broke in the business in Southern California. He was one of the top stars in a wrestling school/federation called the Ultimate Pro Wrestling. After Memphis but before OVW, this was the WWE’s training affiliate. Most of their stars would get put through the Funk Dojo (held in WWE’s Stamford Warehouse) but the guys who were too green or too unpolished almost always got referred here by the WWE. In 2000, it was the first home to Samoa Joe. One of his chief rivals was The Prototype, better known as John Cena. Joe spent almost 2 years with the WWE affiliate until Jim Ross told Samoa Joe "We know what we're looking for in terms of talent, and you're not it." Samoa Joe didn’t fit that WWE mold (unlike John Cena) so he went to make his own legend.

    The first time I saw Samoa Joe wrestle was for Shinya Hashimoto's Zero1 Pro Wrestling. Let me tell you a great Samoa Joe story.
    So, Samoa Joe goes to Japan on his first tour with Zero One pro wrestling. Samoa Joe is wrestling Masato Tanaka in the Differ Ariake during the 2001 fire festival (like Zero1’s version of the G1). Joe gets put into the Diamond Dust and Samoa Joe combos it into the Island Driver. This is a big deal. Here’s why.

    In the states, his finisher is the Island Driver which is a sitout side powerslam. This move was invented by Misawa. It was Misawa’s finisher, the Emerald Flowsion.

    the Differ Ariake is Pro Wrestling NOAH’s home building, this is where their Dojo was, this is where their offices were. In 2001, Pro Wrestling NOAH is the second largest promotion in Japan. Mitsuharu Misawa is the owner of Pro Wrestling NOAH and their biggest star.

    Samoa Joe, nineteen, bleached blonde, green as grass, wrestling the biggest star of his career, during his first tour of Japan, used Mitsuharu Misawa’s own finisher in Mitsuharu Misawa’s own house. That’s how you build a legend.

    Samoa Joe vs Masa Tanaka Zero1 : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOfxqBWvxD4

    Samoa Joe had a background in Judo growing up and while in Japan, it is said he trained with Yoshiaki Fujiwara. Samoa Joe would end up building a bit of a reputation in Japan. Enough of a Reputation that, when Inoki would found the NJPW Dojo in LA, he would select Samoa Joe as one of his trainers in 2004. Joe would have many other tours of Japan with many other Japanese legends and his reverence for the Japanese style is obvious but for me? This is one of those examples of Samoa Joe being brash, irreverent and legit.

    Samoa Joe vs Mitsuharu Misawa in 2007
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Boo_xbKy0YA


    Samoa Joe in ROH

    Ring of Honor is where Samoa Joe became a Legend. Samoa Joe got over in ROH. They turned him into a legit badass. He was brought into ROH as an enforcer and he fit the role almost too well. Samoa Joe was built up as a monster. Some guys were built as athletes, some guys were built as pro wrestlers. Samoa Joe was built as a fighter.

    Soon after coming to ROH, Samoa Joe won the Ring Of Honor World Title. Before Samoa Joe held the title, The Ring of Honor title wasn’t the draw. It was held by midcard stars who didn’t draw. It was secondary to the main event of Ring Of Honor’s more established stars. Samoa Joe changed that. Joe put on grueling and carried all comers to main events worthy of the top of the card. It didn’t matter if it was an established talent in a half hour classic like Bryan Danielson or AJ Styles or carrying a 19 year old Jay Briscoe through a brutal cage match. Samoa Joe was a brute and a champion. The World Title brought him legitimacy and he gave the new world title the legitimacy it needed to arguably become the second most important title in America at the time. Samoa Joe was the man who put the World into the ROH World Title by defending the title in 2 other countries.

    Samoa Joe was World Champion for 645 consecutive days. Joe defended the title 29 times and those matches cemented the ROH style. His 3 match series with CM Punk is still widely regarded as some of the best American matches of all time. Samoa Joe made CM Punk. Bryan Danielson’s first great match? Danielson vs Joe at ROH Midnight Express Reunion. Samoa Joe made Bryan Danielson. When Samoa Joe finally lost that ROH World Title to Austin Aries? The Greatest Man in the World was made by Samoa Joe. Samoa Joe was an ROH Legend and left Ring of Honor richer than when he found it.

    Samoa Joe's Ring Of Honor Farewell Speech : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKx7b9T93sE

    Samoa Joe vs Takeshi Morishima https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uepUiQP1RN4

    ROH Joe vs. Kobashi - 10/1/05 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrgF...ature=youtu.be


    Samoa Joe to TNA

    In June, 2005. Samoa Joe began to work for both TNA and ROH. At first it was amazing. Samoa Joe continued to be the dominant star of ROH and he was working TNA’s PPVs. TNA was in between TV deals and Samoa Joe provided the needed boost to TNA’s following. When he came in, he came in like a legit star. He tore into the X-Division cutting a Path of Rage into anyone who stood in his way. For eighteen months, Samoa Joe was put over hard. He set the X-Division on fire and helped making it one of TNA’s most defining features while it was putting itself on a larger network in front of a new audience. Joe had a long undefeated streak which helped establish him and his following exploded. Joe, Chris Daniels and AJ Styles had an amazing triple threat at Unbreakable 2005 for the X-Division Title which many say is the best match in TNA history. Joe put on classic matches and quickly pushed his way into the main event. He even beat the NWA World Champion, the Founder, The ACE of TNA, Jeff Jarrett (but not for the title).

    Then something happened. Kurt Angle came to TNA. Kurt Angle was the biggest star TNA had attracted in it’s history and they booked him against their biggest young star. This was the opportunity to take Samoa Joe to the next level and make a star who could carry TNA into the future.

    Kurt Angle beat Samoa Joe. They jobbed their home grown star to someone else’s castoffs.

    Turns out Dixie Carter is a starfucker. Vince Russo sucks and TNA can always fuck up a good thing. Samoa Joe wouldn’t be the person to beat Jeff Jarrett. Instead Sting (a WCW Has been) would be the person to become NWA Champion. Joe would then be booked much less strong in the heavyweight division. The focus of TNA shifted from TNA’s guys to people who made their name elsewhere. Eventually Samoa Joe would win the TNA World Title in a great feud with Kurt Angle. But once he won, he would feud with a past his prime Booker T before dropping the title to Sting. Starfuckers.

    For the next 7 years of his career, Samoa Joe would lumber around the midcard, occasionally being used as a band-aid in the main events but he would never achieve dominance or a feud which he could really dig his claws into. TNA just did not value Samoa Joe. They would put him in such terrible spots I started to feel it was deliberate. Here are some examples. They had Samoa Joe be one of TNA’s young lions challenging the Main Event Mafia, THEN they had Joe turn heel, join the Main Event Mafia to just job him out. TNA painted a dick on his face and had Samoa Joe threaten to cut people with a knife. TNA paired Samoa Joe with Kazuchika Okada (one of the best wrestlers in the world) and gave them such a shitty gimmick that they couldn’t get it off the ground. Samoa Joe was an upper midcarder and couldn’t get the support from the TNA pencils. Samoa Joe’s frustration was palpable. Watch this promo after Scott Hall no showed a PPV leaving Joe and Kevin Nash to face Tyson Tomko (another WWE castoff) Christian and AJ Styles : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCWh4Fi-wFc

    Then, after being with TNA for nearly a decade, TNA told Samoa Joe that he was not worth the money that they were paying him (a fraction of what other top stars like Jeff Hardy were making). Samoa Joe walked out of TNA.

    Samoa Joe wrestled a bit on the indies (with a nice little return to ROH) before Triple H gave Samoa Joe an opportunity in NXT. Samoa Joe took a pay per appearance deal and turned it into an NXT World Championship reign. Samoa Joe was the guy chosen by Triple H to be his man on top.

    Samoa Joe is 36 today. He is not the 19 year old kid who gave Masato Tanaka Misawa’s finisher. He is a hardened vet who is finally getting his opportunity with the big time. Sure Samoa Joe is older. Samoa Joe is not quite as tall as Vince likes. Samoa Joe does not have that muscular look that Vince craves. Samoa Joe is not the WWE ideal superstar. 13 years ago, Dave Meltzer was asked if Samoa Joe could succeed in the WWE. He said “He's heavy and his body type is not a negative in Japan like it would be in WWE (in actuality, his body type in WWE would be a negative for the first five minutes he's in the company, and, after that, the only people who would care are management and wrestlers who are brainwashed into thinking you have to look a certain way to be a star).” Samoa Joe has all the tools to be a star.

    From 2003-2007, Samoa Joe was one of the Kings of the Indies. Samoa Joe is a legend and if you have only seen his TNA matches, you should take a little time and educate yourself.

    Thanks for reading.

    Sarah
    Last edited by Irishsara; 02-14-2017 at 02:24 AM.

  2. #2
    Weed General D.O.N's Avatar
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    According to WWE's booking, Samoa Joe is "The Destroyer" and we should care because he is associated with HHH and they think everyone watches NXT.

    These days your experience in on the Indy scene is invaluable when coming into the WWE. They realise that they no longer have to work with green-as-fuck guys and have a quicker job of elevating newer guys who they deem fit to. CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, however, paved the way for guys like Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose to not have to fight management to get a prominent spot on their card because of the previous stigma of the independent scene.

    With regards to the ROH 4 I think WWE wouldn't even have looked at those guys past being in the midcard. But in this day an age that could have been a legitimate main event quartet on wither RAW or Smackdown, especially with the amount of smart fans that have come to light in recent years. I have heard about the original Summer of Punk but I had no idea he signed his fucking contract on the company's biggest title. That's just crazy. I also wondered why Joe would call himself the "Emperor of Strong Style" when he was wrestling Shinsuke Nakumara (King of Strong Style) in NXT and this column made me understand why. I had no idea of Samoa Joe's background in Japan.

    I clearly remember the undefeated streak in TNA and the subsequent job to TNA's biggest star they have ever signed, Kurt Angle. But based off how he was booked beforehand it is criminal to see that happen to him.

    I loved this column. It is interesting beyond words and I will definitely take the time to look through all the matches/promos to educated myself further.

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    Where as "Indy Darlings" experience on the Indy scene is invaluable when coming into the WWE - Your experience and knowledge of Indy wrestling (In particular for me over the last few months - Japanese history) is invaluable to this column forum.

    This is a fantastic piece - incredibly eye opening and insightful - thoroughly enjoyed this - Thank you for writing such a brilliant column!

  4. #4
    What else is on? JSR-13's Avatar
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    I wish you'd write more. It's funny- when I saw your name in the threads, I nearly recited your disclaimer verbatim. I would say that as far as the proofreading, some of your thoughts got a little jumbled up, and I had to read and re-read some sentences over to get what they were saying- but that's my only complaint.

    This was a very detailed look into the career of Joe, and probably better than any video package or DVD that will be produced about him in the future. Not to mention, there was so much info on other guys like Punk, Bryan and Corino. I only know about their histories from written word like this (I didn't follow the indies or ROH in its infancy), and this made me more interested to go back and look at them than anything that has been said by the most ardent fans of those guys.

    Reading this, and looking at Joe's promo from Monday gives lots of assurance that he will be alright on the main roster. Great job with this, Sarah.
    Don't Touch That Dial!



  5. #5
    Queen of Extreme Irishsara's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by D.O.N View Post
    According to WWE's booking, Samoa Joe is "The Destroyer" and we should care because he is associated with HHH and they think everyone watches NXT.
    Will they push him as the Destroyer tho or is he just the next Tensai? I mean Matt Bloom is one of the best tag wrestlers in the world but he couldnt buy a push.

    One of the things I value most on the guys who got REALLY over on the indies, is that they learned how to get over. I believe if you can get over with no mainstream coverage in buildings of hyper critical super fans then you can get over when the machine is behind you. I think Samoa Joe can get over if given the opportunity and he stays motivated.

    Quote Originally Posted by D.O.N View Post
    These days your experience in on the Indy scene is invaluable when coming into the WWE. They realise that they no longer have to work with green-as-fuck guys and have a quicker job of elevating newer guys who they deem fit to. CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, however, paved the way for guys like Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose to not have to fight management to get a prominent spot on their card because of the previous stigma of the independent scene.
    I think sometimes the indies is a great place for talent to sharpen their skills. Iron sharpens iron and when there are all these different talents with all these different strengths, guys are able to make themselves more complete than they could in OVW or FCW. Maybe NXT will be different but I doubt it. Matt Riddle for example (Next Big Thing, check him out) or guys like Donovan Dijak and Keith Lee are being able to gain so much while being so green because there is so much more traveling than there used to be. These guys are working every weekend when in the early 2000s you were lucky to work once or twice a month. There isnt the talent concentration anymore in feds like ROH but there are so many other places to work, guys are learning real lessons and how to be their own advocates.

    Quote Originally Posted by D.O.N View Post
    With regards to the ROH 4 I think WWE wouldn't even have looked at those guys past being in the midcard. But in this day an age that could have been a legitimate main event quartet on wither RAW or Smackdown, especially with the amount of smart fans that have come to light in recent years. I have heard about the original Summer of Punk but I had no idea he signed his fucking contract on the company's biggest title. That's just crazy. I also wondered why Joe would call himself the "Emperor of Strong Style" when he was wrestling Shinsuke Nakumara (King of Strong Style) in NXT and this column made me understand why. I had no idea of Samoa Joe's background in Japan.
    Thanks for listening to my rambling stories. I think they are cool and people never hear about them anymore. Did I do enough of a good job giving context?

    Joe doesnt have the background in Japan that AJ, Danielson or Gallows and Gun but he always exemplified that King's Road style in the US. That match with Samoa Joe vs. Kenta Kobashi from 2004 in front of 400 fans got 5 stars from Meltzer. I was hoping, when Joe left TNA, he would do a run in Japan but his NXT was fun. Joe was really green in Zero1 but you can tell the influence that Steve Corino and Japanese Wrestling Culture had on Samoa Joe.

    Quote Originally Posted by D.O.N View Post
    I clearly remember the undefeated streak in TNA and the subsequent job to TNA's biggest star they have ever signed, Kurt Angle. But based off how he was booked beforehand it is criminal to see that happen to him.

    I loved this column. It is interesting beyond words and I will definitely take the time to look through all the matches/promos to educated myself further.
    I was probably a bit tough on TNA and that initial run. Angle was a perfect foil for Samoa Joe but the way they booked it was fucked up. They should have put Joe over when Angle finally got there. If TNA had put Angle over someone else when he got there (Sting?) then put Angle against Joe. I would have wanted Joe to win the first one then lose the last 2 instead of the other way around.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stu Gosling View Post
    Where as "Indy Darlings" experience on the Indy scene is invaluable when coming into the WWE - Your experience and knowledge of Indy wrestling (In particular for me over the last few months - Japanese history) is invaluable to this column forum.

    This is a fantastic piece - incredibly eye opening and insightful - thoroughly enjoyed this - Thank you for writing such a brilliant column!
    Thank you for reading.

    I love wrestling. I love the stories of wrestling and I hope i can impart those sometimes in context. I sometimes take a beating for being a bit overzealous. I do not believe my opinions are my opinions, I believe that I'm right.

    What is interesting about this column is that, really, I hope it whets your appetite to find the good stuff which isnt on Raw or Smackdown. I hope you go looking for Samoa Joe vs Bryan Danielson or some Zero1 matches from the early 2000s. I hope it leads you to the joys of Claudio Castignoli and the Kings of Wrestling rather than just Kassius Ohno and Cesaro. I hope it doesnt stop here. Be Hungry. watch matches in Japanese or without commentary. Try to find the best stuff from your favorite wrestlers and maybe along the way you will find some about KENTA, Misawa, Kawada Tenryu and Terry Funk. Maybe it leads you, like it lead me to not get down when the WWE fucks a push and instead it sends me to watch CM Punk cutting a hot fire heel promo on Raven using his own father's alcoholism. Maybe looking at AJ Styles in ROH leads you to AJ Styles vs Minoru Suzuki in the G1. I hope these columns are the gateway drug to wrestling.

    I have also been thinking of doing a Samoa Joe top 10 best matches list (hopefully i can find links since someone shut down the ROH Goggle Drive). So we will see. Keep reading and don't be afraid to ask questions.

  6. #6
    The Brain
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    Prime Samoa Joe, that 2002-2008(9?) Joe, is the fucking end of all things, one of the best things in the history of this business. The man is a revelation in that ring. Unfortunately, he really let himself go after a certain point. I know the reason, he felt frustrated with TNA and to some extent with good reason, but man did it kill my enthusiasm for him over time. It's been nice to see him pull himself back together to some extent, but it's really just never been the same. He is till good at times, but I rarely get excited about his modern work and pretty much never seek it out. My personal preference, of course, I know a lot of people are still heavily invested and that's just fine.

    This was really interesting, as always Sara. Learned a couple things I didn't know before, like that interesting Corino/Hashimoto story. Wonder what that might have turned into had they not let the cat out of the bag so quickly.

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    Awesome work, Sarah. I have seen a little of Joe's work in ROH--Love the Punk series, the Aries matches, and the Kobashi one--but was more familiar with his stuff in TNA. BTW, that Triple Threat from Unbreakable '05 is the best Triple Threat match of all time. Not the greatest--Wrestlemania XX holds that distinction--but the first Daniels/Styles/Joe one is just flat out better.

    Please write the Corino column. He's a guy I've really enjoyed, but haven't seen enough nor know enough about.

  8. #8
    The Brain
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    Quote Originally Posted by XanMan View Post
    BTW, that Triple Threat from Unbreakable '05 is the best Triple Threat match of all time. Not the greatest--Wrestlemania XX holds that distinction--but the first Daniels/Styles/Joe one is just flat out better.
    I strongly disagree with this, but I admit it's close.

  9. #9
    Queen of Extreme Irishsara's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JSR-13 View Post
    I wish you'd write more. It's funny- when I saw your name in the threads, I nearly recited your disclaimer verbatim. I would say that as far as the proofreading, some of your thoughts got a little jumbled up, and I had to read and re-read some sentences over to get what they were saying- but that's my only complaint.
    Don't care.

    But thank you for the kind words. Something I think would be really cool if TNA or the WWE put together would be if they did some shoot interviews about particular matches then aired them.

    Quote Originally Posted by mizfan View Post
    Prime Samoa Joe, that 2002-2008(9?) Joe, is the fucking end of all things, one of the best things in the history of this business. The man is a revelation in that ring. Unfortunately, he really let himself go after a certain point. I know the reason, he felt frustrated with TNA and to some extent with good reason, but man did it kill my enthusiasm for him over time. It's been nice to see him pull himself back together to some extent, but it's really just never been the same. He is till good at times, but I rarely get excited about his modern work and pretty much never seek it out. My personal preference, of course, I know a lot of people are still heavily invested and that's just fine.
    I think it is more motivation rather than Joe's actual skill. Sure, he is a bit less mobile but I think that benefits his style. There are a few great matches from the end of Joe's TNA run but it only happened when he was really motivated and it never lasted. It is like Aries vs Joe from TNA Slammiversary X (
    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xxy...ary-2012_sport ) Solid match. How about the Bound For Glory 2014 from Japan? It was Low Ki vs. Kaz Hayashi vs. Samoa Joe 3 way for the X-Div title (http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2c...amoa-joe_sport) What do these 2 matches have in common? Motivation. For one Joe is wrestling in Japan for Muta. The Second? His friend Austin Aries who he has a history with going back to Joe's big title reign in Ring of Honor.

    To round out Joe's modern classics? Check out 2 matches from Joe's most recent ROH run. Joe vs ACH and Joe Vs Elgin from the very next night. Joe is in better shape. he is motivated. Finally, check out Nakamura vs Joe from NXT Brooklyn. You can tell the difference between Joe after TNA and Joe deep in his doldrums.



    Quote Originally Posted by mizfan View Post
    This was really interesting, as always Sara. Learned a couple things I didn't know before, like that interesting Corino/Hashimoto story. Wonder what that might have turned into had they not let the cat out of the bag so quickly.
    Oh the rest of the story. I heard that the plan would have been to come back to Florida for a rematch which would end with another contested finish (maybe a DQ) and a pull apart then UFC Hall of Famer, Dan “The Beast” Severn would come to Corino's aide and shoot on Hashimoto. Dan Severn would then face Hashimoto in one of the zero1 bigger Tokyo shows (over 1,000 people usually). Then Severn would accompany Corino to his big confrontation with Hashimoto in Japan.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8n5WfjcsilM

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYEd1BymMDc



    I mean they sort of did it but it didnt draw. It was one of the things that alienated Zero1 from the NWA. The best part is, when TNA started up, Severn was still champion. The Jarretts bought control of the World Title and when Severn couldnt make the date, TNA stripped him of the World Title and awarded it to Ken Shamrock. Instead of doing Severn vs Shamrock the second week of the PPV, they instead ran a Gauntlet For The Gold. In the summer of 2002, Shamrock refused to put over Ron Killings (R-Truth in the WWE) for the NWA World Title and was stripped of it. So, that worked.


    Quote Originally Posted by XanMan View Post
    Awesome work, Sarah. I have seen a little of Joe's work in ROH--Love the Punk series, the Aries matches, and the Kobashi one--but was more familiar with his stuff in TNA. BTW, that Triple Threat from Unbreakable '05 is the best Triple Threat match of all time. Not the greatest--Wrestlemania XX holds that distinction--but the first Daniels/Styles/Joe one is just flat out better.
    If you are looking for great ROH Samoa Joe matches from ROH maybe I should write that top 10 (at least a top 5). But ... no ... The Unbreakable triple threat is good but it isnt even the best triple threat put on by Samoa Joe, Chris Daniels and AJ Styles. The Turning Point 2009 triple threat is better.

    Here Unbreakable '05 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U28pyOAMXcI Turning Point '09 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZjgdmRGvf0

    Watch both matches and then tell me what you think. Sure the 2005 match has three young talents blazing a path and setting a bar which will define a division. The 2009 match has 3 of the best talents in the world fighting for a meaningful title which they are all three invested in, in one of the most must see matches of the division.

    Quote Originally Posted by XanMan View Post
    Please write the Corino column. He's a guy I've really enjoyed, but haven't seen enough nor know enough about.
    I love Steve Corino and I do have a top 5 Steve Cornio match list. And there are some great stories. ld love to retell the rib that Brody's murderer played on Steve Corino in WWC. I would love to tell the Steve Corino breaking in like he was Enzo Amore. I would love to tell some Steve Corino/Dusty Rhodes stories. I would love to tell the MLW Barbed Wire match story. I would love to tell what Wildfire Tommy Rich told Steve Corino the week after he dropped the title to Hashimoto in that fake shoot in Florida. I would love to tell why Jack Victory calls Corino Four Five Six and how that connects to one of the biggest stories of the attitude era. I would love to tell the story behind Monster C and I would love to tell the time Steve Corino called me fat. But honestly, It is more about me than it would be about wrestling. Most of those stories you can find in his shoots (except you know, the time he almost made my brother jump the rail at an Indy show). His shoots are great though : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6J2-KqnSXso

    Do you guys even know these stories?

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    I don't.

  11. #11
    The Brain
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    No, I'm not too familiar with Corino, like most people (unfortunately), so any Corino stories you want to spread would be well received on my end.

  12. #12
    Queen of Extreme Irishsara's Avatar
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    Which one? I'll tell one or two Corino stories here while i try to figure out how I will structure an Irish Sarah tells Steve Corino stories and tries not to fuck them up.

    Here is a Corino ECW story. You know when Steve first joined ECW in 1999, he was doing that gimmick where he was trying to call out Taz? Well on the house shows, Corino was programed with Dreamer. How do we know this? Well tapes of some of the house shows were sold through RF Video which were shot usually by Fancam operator Gabe Sapolsky. If you read the column above (and you should, why else are you here?) then you would know that Gabe would go onto book Ring of Honor through it's influential phase and now books Evolve (and a few other promotions) which is affiliated with the WWE. Well Gabe would film these house show loops (and the quality wasnt great, mind you but I think some of them are really fun). Tommy Dreamer would make an open challenge. Steve Corino would come out on the mic and would rip down Dreamer. Dreamer would get the mic, slam Corino, sometimes during the match they would start going back and forth on the mic. Some of it was real funny and the crowd loved it. I always thought it was a really cool way to get a talking heel over on a house show.

    Turns out, the reason Corino did it? He was the ring announcer. ECW was so broke it couldnt afford a ring announcer so Steve Corino would do it behind the curtain and then go wrestle his match. After his match he would go back behind the curtain and finish announcing the show. It also helped because Dreamer was in really bad shape in 1999. He was wrestling with a broken foot and a myriad of other major injuries and was pretty imobile so by cutting promos on eachother, Dreamer and Corino could fill their time without being too physical in the ring on the house shows. Genius. So, if you ever watch the fancam tapes towards the end of ECW and there is no ring announcer in the ring? It is probably Steve Corino doing the ring announcing. Fun Fact.

    In my opinion, the best Corino vs Dreamer confrontation is ECW Fancam 4/17/99 from Buffalo, NY off RF Video Extreme Fancam Anthology 1999 Volume 5
    Last edited by Irishsara; 02-15-2017 at 03:36 AM.

  13. #13
    Weed General D.O.N's Avatar
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    @Sarah - I think its safe to say Joe is more talented than Tensai and he has been booked strongly upon his debut. If WWE can keep it up he should be an upper midcarder at least.

    The indies can definitely help talent sharpen their skills because they work with different styles which makes them more well-rounded as professional wrestlers.

    I think you put everything into context well enough and the sidebars helped with that.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Oliver's Avatar
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    Huh, I thought I'd fedback on this, but hey ho.

    Joe, quite rightfully, deserves the title of the King of the Indies exclusively based on his RoH title run, in my opinion. Look at who initially held that belt before him and where it was going - half a year of Xavier. It was bloody trash. I think without Joe and his title reign RoH would have fallen on it's arse and never got back up again, regardless of who else was in the company at any point in time. I don't think anybody else could have done what Joe did for RoH. I don't think anybody else could have done what Joe did for TNA, either, but you're right that they basically treated him like shit after his undefeated run ended. TNA had such a great early run, then dipped so badly, then pulled it back with the A&8s, and then it's been patchy since really. I've lost touch with a lot of it. To be honest, I only watch EC3 now.

    My familiarity with Corino during RoH is pretty good, but he seems to have so many back stories - I'd love the column on him, Sara.

  15. #15
    The Brain
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    I have a mind to hunt those fancams down some day. I have heard tell there are a wealth of great Tajiri matches with Super Crazy, Little Guido, so on and so forth.

    Fun story on the Corino ring announcer stuff, it's a little sad but also a little inspiring to think about just how shoestring ECW was a lot of the time, and how long they made everything work as well as it did.

    Looking forward to the full Corino column, should be a good read.

  16. #16
    Queen of Extreme Irishsara's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by D.O.N View Post
    I think you put everything into context well enough and the sidebars helped with that.
    I usually write sidebars but I delete them because they arent really anything to do with the story. You don't need them and it came out a little long but they interest ME and I think that is the most important thing.


    Oliver – Part of the problem with TNA is that they lacked the quality control on the top. What made ROH so good under Gabe was they had a vision to be different. TNA never did. So even when they have great talent, they never built stars. I mean you look at Roode, Aries, AJ Styles and Samoa Joe, it is hard to see why they would push the Main Event Mafia over talent like that?

    I love the Corino stuff when he was making towns and drawing American Legion Halls .


    Quote Originally Posted by mizfan View Post
    I have a mind to hunt those fancams down some day. I have heard tell there are a wealth of great Tajiri matches with Super Crazy, Little Guido, so on and so forth.
    There are some great fancams and the guys who were real talents could work great matches given time. Some of the Fancams are TERRIBLE. So be warned. There is a great Tajiri match vs Super Crazy from North Carolina from Feb. 99

    Quote Originally Posted by mizfan View Post
    Fun story on the Corino ring announcer stuff, it's a little sad but also a little inspiring to think about just how shoestring ECW was a lot of the time, and how long they made everything work as well as it did.

    Looking forward to the full Corino column, should be a good read.
    I love the Corino stories when he is making towns and telling stories. He has great Japanese stories.

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