Samoa Joe Discusses Knowing WWE Time Was Up & Joining AEW

Samoa Joe

As part of a stacked WrestleMania weekend, Samoa Joe now has two new places to call home after confirming he’s signed with AEW and making a return to Ring Of Honor.

Samoa Joe’s second run in NXT didn’t go anywhere nearly as well as many would have expected. Being brought back at the behest of Triple H shortly after his initial release in April 2021, he quickly rose to the top of the mountain by being Karrion Kross for the NXT Championship in September. However, he immediately vacated the belt, with it later emerging he had returned a positive COVID-19 test and the company decided to move in a different direction.

Alongside William Regal and Road Dogg, Samoa Joe was released for the second time as part of the releases made on 5th January 2022.

In a surprise appearance, ‘The Samoan Submission Machine’ made his return to wrestling to close ROH’s Supercard Of Honor XV, stopping a post-main event beatdown and putting Sonjay Dutt in the Coquina Clutch. It was announced by Tony Khan a short time later that Joe had signed with AEW.

Speaking at the post-show media scrum, Samoa Joe revealed that he mostly went back to NXT because of Triple H and William Regal, and when they departed he knew his time was coming to an end.

My going back to WWE was majorly because of the people I worked with and relationships I built in the company, mainly two people in Triple H and William Regal. As Triple H, dealing with his situation which I obviously knew about and was way more concerned about than my employment, Regal and his departure, I knew the writing was on the wall for me. Which is fine, we were a big collective team and a big collective think tank within the company and we went a different way.

As far as the release, it’s an up and down process for a lot of people, for me, it’s freed me up to pursue a lot of projects that I’ve wanted to work on. It freed me up to start talking with Tony and the future with what he wanted to do and I was very surprised that it matched up.

When it comes to his return to action, Samoa Joe confirmed that he is fit, healthy and ready to go.

More than confident. You have to understand, coming into WWE, that is me coming off a 15-year-plus career of probably the worst medical care a guy can get and going into a very very arduous schedule. I did have a few injuries, one of them being the major concussion that took me out for a while. Honestly, I took extra time. When it comes to brain injuries and stuff like that, I wasn’t willing to risk going back quickly and potentially harming myself permanently. It’s just a dumb thing to do.

We have too much science on our side and too much knowledge now that we can pull back and treat things properly and take time to heal. I took the time to do that and that was really my major issue, I was taking the right amount of time to make sure I was ready to come back to the ring. As for my last injury, obviously, it was more a circumstance of the world we all live in now and it pops up here and there. I’ve been healthy, I’m more than ready to go, and I’m excited.

Samoa Joe also confirmed that he doesn’t plan on holding other roles outside of the ring like he did in WWE, and that he’s aiming straight for the top of the mountain.

World Champion. That’s why I’m here. I tried my bid at bettering the world of professional wrestling, but at the end of the day, I’m here in AEW and ROH to be a Unified Champion. I’m here to win the AEW Championship and Ring of Honor Championship. I’m here to win anything they put in front of me. I’m more than willing to go into the Owen Hart (tournament) and win that.

This ain’t a game anymore. AEW has a lot of feel-good moments, a lot of great wrestlers who respect each other. I don’t respect nobody. Until you’re in the ring with me. I’m coming out there to smack people in the mouth and take what they have. That’s pretty much my edict when I’m here. Broadcaster, mentor, good guy, I am all those things, but not here. Not here.

With thanks to Wrestling Inc and Fightful for the respective transcriptions.