Samoa Joe On Keeping His Name In WWE, Meeting Vince McMahon & More

NXT Champion Samoa Joe recently appeared as a guest on the Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast and spoke about his journey in getting to WWE, meeting Vince McMahon and more. Below are some of the highlights from the interview.

On finally getting to WWE:

“I didn’t plan on it, but it was funny, man. It’s a lot of confluence of a lot of good guys kind of going to bat for me and making the connection with me and Triple H. And the next thing you know, I find myself here.”

On his belief that WWE was worried about insulting him by offering him a spot on the NXT roster:

“I mean, [conversations with WWE] started out real informal. I’ve been wrestling as long as I have. I’ve made several inroads and friends with a lot of people. It was a real weird process because it was kind of the first time WWE in a long time ever brought in somebody, third party, under their own guise and didn’t try to create them unto themselves. Me, I was an experimental idea, so it’s like, ‘hey, we’ve got these ideas’ and they didn’t want to say who and all of a sudden it was, ‘hey, can we set up a meeting? Come down to Orlando [Florida] and lets talk about things. We’ve got some ideas we want to throw at you [and] see what you think.’ I think, for the most part, WWE was concerned that I’d be insulted initially by some of the inroads they made to me because [of] not understanding what they’re trying to build in NXT and what was going on here.”

On Triple H’s vision for NXT and how him coming in fit into that picture:

“I think Hunter kind of had a vision for how he wanted things to go. And he realized what he kind of had and wanted to catch a fire with everything and bringing me in to NXT was a big part of that. He knew I could add momentum to the brand and kind of help shift perception from it being a AAA club to being an actual third WWE brand.”

On getting to keep his Samoa Joe name in WWE and how that happened:

“My lawyer is dope. Yeah, but I’m really super over and awesome, so that helps. I think the biggest thing really is when they looked at the situation, which was very unique that I was coming into, and AJ [Styles]’s much the same way. It’s very unique where we have decade-plus careers and decade-plus name recognition behind us that it’s more of a benefit to keep us as we are, so I think that’s the biggest thing. And for branding purposes and all that, I understand their business acumen behind trying to change somebody’s name. But, at the same time, do we want to start moving stuff a couple of months down the line or start moving stuff on night one? And that was a motivating factor too. I mean, it was financially smart and it was creatively smart, so I think that was the biggest thing that went into it.”

On his meeting with Vince McMahon:

“Vince is the ultimate poker player and you’ll never know [what he thinks of your character]. Oh no, it was ‘very nice to meet you’ and then it’s like this coy smile where he’s like, ‘very nice to meet you’, but on the other side it’s like, ‘pfft, you ain’t s–t’. I couldn’t tell, man. I’ve been at the table with some really great poker players. I’m sure Vince McMahon is a hell of a poker player.”

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