Samoa Joe’s career in TNA Impact Wrestling has been a rollercoaster of ups and downs.
Through it all he has maintained the respect of fans and his fellow grapplers.
His perseverance has been rewarded in recent weeks, as the “Samoan Submission Machine” has taken one of the top slots in the Bound for Glory Series leaderboard. The semifinals and finals occur at TNA’s No Surrender pay-per-view 8 p.m. EST Sunday, Sept. 9 from Universal Studios Orlando.
Joe discussed the changes to the annual tournament to decide who faces the TNA champ at Bound for Glory and more on a recent conference call. Although he would like to see more fan interactivity with the bracketing, Joe is happy with the way things have gone in the BFG Series.
“I think the biggest difference from the tournament from this year than last year is that it actually makes sense,” Joe said. “I have to hand it to the tournament organizers. They put together a hell of tournament. They kept the form and function of the tournament very basic. Last year we had some ridiculous scenarios put together. It kind of led to me not really appreciating how things were being run and led to me overreacting a bit.”
The outspoken star has flourished with other members of the roster in the live setting of Impact Wrestling on Thursday nights on Spike TV. With the “no safety net” mentality, the quality of the show has improved.
“I think the live aspect is the contributing factor to that,” Joe said. “I think going live, it’s been a better atmosphere for television, and I think delivers a better product. I think that has been the biggest thing that I’ve noticed.”
With mixed martial arts exploding in popularity, sports entertainment/wrestling has been challenged to enhance the physicality in the ring. Looking at who is on top in TNA and elsewhere, fans see their champions as the workhorses who are willing to let it all hang out in the ring. Joe’s style has always been a hybrid of the MMA and wrestling world, putting him at the forefront of this evolution.
“I have been a big proponent of those changes and implementing them in the realm of professional wrestling,” Joe said. “I think pro wrestling is always going to have its strengths that attract fans to it. So I think it’s a real experimental time right now. I think that the better pro wrestlers of the world will be able to implement everything.”
King Mo Muhammed Lawal is looking to have a dual career (pro wrestling in TNA and mixed martial arts in Bellator Fighting Championships).
“You’d be hard pressed not to get blow back for any move you make bringing in a non-pro wrestling personality coming into this world,” Joe said. “That’s fine. I think King Mo, to me, seems like a guy who’s pretty dedicated to honing his craft and learning what he needs to do. After running into him briefly, I’m more than willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and see what he can put forth. It will be interesting.”
There are many ways to break into the wrestling business. A common one is the independent scene, where the likes of Austin Aries, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and Joe made names for themselves.
“I think all those people knew very much at an early time in their career that they had an exceptional gift for doing what they did and that they were going to do this well into the future,” Joe said. “We’ve kind of expanded on that in our own different ways.