Mr 5-Star: Samoa Joe
February 8, 2006 by Daniel Wade

The Wrestling Observer newsletter pioneered a ratings system whereas matches receive a rating between 1 and 5 stars based on the workrate in the match, the difficulty and variety of the moves, the past history of the wrestlers and their feud, the development of the storyline during the match, and the overall reaction of the crowd. A 5-star match is extremely rare, especially in United States. As a matter of fact, before 2004, the last 5-star match to take place in the United States was way back in 1997. However, since that time Ring of Honor has been able to produce 2 matches that received the top honors while TNA has produced one of their own. What's even more incredible than this is that 1 man has been involved in all 3 of those matches and has, in my book, earned the rights to a very special nickname. The man in question is current TNA X-Division Champion Samoa Joe and the nickname he has more than earned is "Mr. 5-Star".

Before Joe was participating in 5-Star matches, however, he had to be trained. Joe began (and completed) his training at the UIWA West Coast Dojo under the likes of Johnny Hemp and Cincinnati Red. He made his professional debut in September 1999 and captured his first championship on March 14, 2001 when he defeated Christopher Daniels to win the UPW Heavyweight Championship, holding the title long enough to become the longest reigning UPW Champion up to this date. He hit the "big time" however when his career led him to the jumpstarting company of Ring of Honor where, in his first match on October 5, 2002 he lost to Low Ki. Joe bounced around in the midcard of Ring of Honor for a few months and put on some very good matches, including an incredible 45-minute draw in a Fatal 4-Way with Low Ki, Bryan Danielson, and Steve Corino. On March 22, 2003, Samoa Joe made his mark on Ring of Honor in a very big way. After wrestling to a no-contest in a tag team match with CW Anderson & Jack Victory against Homicide & Da Hit Squad, Joe went on to defeat Xavier to capture his first (and to date only) Ring of Honor Heavyweight Championship, a title he would defend successfully for the next 21 months.

During Joe's reign as Ring of Honor Champion he participated in a long series of incredible matches. He had successful defenses over Christopher Daniels, the Briscoe Brothers, AJ Styles, Low Ki, Ricky Reyes, Homicide, and many other independent superstars. Joe actually put on more than a handful of matches that went close to the time limit, stunning everyone with his amazing stamina. On October 16, 2004 he took CM Punk to a 60-minute time limit draw, retaining the Ring of Honor Championship and earning his first of three 5-Star matches.

Joe's incredible reign as ROH Champion came to an end on December 26, 2004 when he lost to the strap to Austin Aries and lost the subsequent rematch on February 26, 2005. Joe wasn't beltless in Ring of Honor for long though as he quickly captured the Pure Wrestling Championship from Jay Lethal on May 7, 2005. Samoa Joe quickly racked up successful defenses against James Gibson (Jamie Noble), Nigel McGuiness, and Colt Cabana before making his debut in Total Nonstop Action on June 19 at Slammiversary with a submission victory over Sonjay Dutt. This win began Joe's X-Division singles match win-streak in TNA. He went on to add victories over Chris Sabin, Alex Shelley, and AJ Styles on his way to winning the 2005 TNA Super-X Cup tournament. During his time in TNA, Joe continued to attend Ring of Honor events to defend his Pure Wrestling title, picking up successful defenses against Austin Aries, Jimmy Rave, and Christopher Daniels before losing the title to Nigel McGuiness on August 27, 2005.

Back in his TNA career, Joe was continuing his win-streak in singles X-Division matches, picking up a solid "W" against Shark Boy before heading into September 11th's Unbreakable PPV. The match was an X-Division Championship with Christopher Daniels defending against AJ Styles and Samoa Joe. Joe lost the match (but his win streak continued because it wasn't a singles encounter) but the match but it was the best match in TNA history. So good, in fact, that is was awarded the rating of 5-Stars from the Wrestling Observer, giving Joe his second 5-Star match.

After that match, Joe returned to ROH for awhile, setting up his October 1st match against Kenta Kobashi. The match was a great one (considered ROH's best match ever) and, although Joe lost, he picked up his 3rd (and so far final) 5-star match. Following his last 5-star match, Joe continued his TNA rampage. He picked up a win against legendary international Cruiser-X star Jushin Thunder Liger at Bound for Glory on October 23, Austin Aries in an incredible match taped for Spike TV, and won a 4-on-4 Elimination X match at Genesis on November 13th, surviving with Christopher Daniels before attacking his rival after the match and leaving him bloodied. On December 11th, Joe met AJ Styles at Final Resolution with AJ's X-Division Championship on the line. In a match of the year contender (that could only have just missed the 5-star rating) Joe defeated Styles to continue his win-streak and pick up his first X-Division Championship. Joe went on to successfully defend the X-Division Championship at Final Resolution on January 15th against Christopher Daniels, kicking 2006 off into high gear. At February's Against All Odds PPV Joe will put his title on the line against Styles and Daniels again in a rematch from their 5-star encounter at Unbreakable. Will history repeat itself"

Samoa Joe has been incredible in his relatively short wrestling career. He has participated in (although never won) 3 5-star matches and will, undoubtedly, add more to his resume before his career is over. His innovative style is hard for heavyweights to plan against and his massive frame is hard to Cruiser-X stars to contend with. With his patented Muscle Buster and Kokina Clutch finishers, plus his flying single-leg drop kick and running face smash, look for Joe to make a serious threat to the NWA World Heavyweight Championship before 2006 is over. He is one of 3 TNA X-Division stars (along with Styles and Daniels) that I see as having the ability to capture the illustrious gold. Joe may not have won the "Mr. TNA" award for 2005 but he has definitely earned the "Mr. 5-Star" award in my book.

by Daniel Wade ..

LanceCrucifix wrote:
While I am entertained by alot of Samoa Joe's work, he dosn't seem to have the ring psychology needed to compete at a level that most of the X-Division stars do. Jpe could be a solid worker, he has the speed and the technical ability to become NWA Champion, some time in the future, but Joe dosn't have the experince to develop the psychology. So to me Joe may one day be the NWA Champ, but I'd like to see him put on a good match with someone his size ( Note: I didn't see the Kenta vs Joe match, and refuse to take anyones word for it.). When in a ring Joe is usually faciing smaller opponents, ( Homicide, AJ, CM Punk, Christopher Daniels, Austin Aries, you get the picture,) it is alot easier for joe to throw these guys around, I'd like to see if Joe could pull off a good match with Rhino. While Rhino isn't the best worker, I believe he and Joe may be able to do a good match, both men have explosive speed for there size, and where Joe has the technicle ability, Rhino has great psychology to make up for his lack of technicle skill, all in all I enjoyed this article.
Mike wrote:
While i know he's a good wrestler i dont enjoy watching Samao Joe, he's lack of charisma and shooting backstage promos does that he's matches only brings wrestling skills, but no excitement. I dont like seeing he's undefeated streak, because it sets other wrestlers and bigger talents like Daniels and Styles in bad light.



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