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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Samoa Joe IS Pro Wrestling
August 29, 2005 by Matt Szimanski


Well seeing as how this is my first article for Online World of Wrestling, I guess I should introduce myself. My name's Matt Szimanski, I live in Baltimore, Maryland, and I've been a fan of this great sport since I was 12, which was about six years ago. In that time I've watched WWE, WCW, ECW, TNA, and ROH. And after six years of sifting through that alphabet soup, I've come to the realization that there are two different types of wrestling fan. I'm not talking about the usual classification of "smark", "mark", etc. I'm talking about fans being group based on what they like to watch. There are the fans who watch wrestling for the sports-entertainment aspect first and foremost. They enjoy the wrestling, but would rather watch John Cena play to the crowd and annoy Eric Bischoff than watch a wrestling match. Then there are the fans that are in it for the sport. These are the fans who worship the ground that guys like Chris Benoit walk on, and who are disgusted that guys like JBL and Cena are main eventing over the likes of Benoit and Guerrero. As for me, I fall into the latter category. And when it comes to watching a great wrestling match, I never have to do anything more than open my DVD binder, pull out of Ring of Honor disc, and switch on that night's Samoa Joe match.

I've been a fan of Samoa Joe since the first time I saw him wrestle. It was my first ROH event, The Last Stand, and I was second row to see Samoa Joe team with Jerry Lynn to take on the Briscoe Brothers. The match, in comparison to a lot of Joe's other work, wasn't anything special. But "not anything special" for Samoa Joe is better than "outstanding" for 90% of the wrestlers on the planet. The man has a presence in that ring that is comparable to that of a Kurt Angle or Chris Benoit of today, or a Ric Flair or Ricky Steamboat on years gone by. Quite simply, Samoa Joe knows how to wrestle, and he can do it better than almost anyone on the planet.

Samoa Joe was the man who made the Ring of Honor Heavyweight Title into the Ring of Honor World Title. Joe held that belt for over 21 months, winning it from Xavier on March 22, 2003, and losing it to Austin Aries on December 26, 2004. In that timespan, he defended the belt against all comers, in ROH, other Indies, and around Europe. It is because of Samoa Joe that many fans consider the ROH belt to be the most important belt in the world today. While it may not have the exposure of WWE's top titles or even TNA's championship, the ROH World Title has been booked better than any of those belts over the past several years, and pound for pound caries more value than the belts around the waists of Raven, Batista, and John Cena.

I know a lot of fans are turned off by Joe's appearance, and automatically put him in the same category as a guy like Rikishi. Now I'll be the first to admit that Joe doesn't have the body of a John Cena, or even a Jeff Jarrett. But what these fans don't realize is that Joe doesn't need to be absolutely ripped. Joe is a big badass who doesn't care what people think of him, and whose sole focus is to take care of business inside the squared circle. Joe has an aura about him that simply radiates the message, "Don't screw with me, or it will be the last thing you ever do." Wrestling is sorely in need of guys like that today.

Joe's physical shape always leads to questions about his conditioning. People who have only seen him in TNA speculate that the reason Joe never works a match that goes longer than 15 minutes is because he physically can't. They assume that he'd get blown up and fans would see that he wasn't the legit badass he was built up to be. For fans that have followed Joe on the Indy scene, they know that there's no truth to these speculations. The reason Samoa Joe rarely works long matches is because it doesn't fit with his character to work long matches. He's got a Goldberg-esque feel to him, in the sense that he can demolish most of his opponents in short order. But when the time is right for Joe to go long, he can do it easily. Just ask CM Punk.

Samoa Joe's trilogy with CM Punk in the Ring of Honor promotion is the stuff of legend for those who have been lucky enough to witness it. This series, for Samoa Joe's ROH World Title, consisted of a One Hour Draw on June 12, 2004 at World Title Classic, a One Hour Draw on October 16, 2004 at Joe vs. Punk II, and a Samoa Joe victory in a No Time Limit match that went about 31 minutes on December 4, 2004. The series has drawn incredible reviews, and has been compared by many to the Flair/Steamboat NWA Title series back in 1989. The second match in the series became the first match in North America since October of 1997 to garner a 5 star rating from Dave Metlzer's Wrestling Observer. Think about that for a second. That means that every match you've seen on American soil since October '97 was inferior to this match. Austin/Rock, Benoit/Jericho, Benoit/Angle, Angle/Lesnar, Guerrero/Van Dam, every TLC match, they all were inferior to Samoa Joe vs. CM Punk. I can't really offer any more proof that Samoa Joe can go the distance than to say that his One Hour Draw in ROH was the best match on American soil in seven years.

Mainstream fans are just now discovering this hidden secret that ROH fans have known about for years. Samoa Joe went from a relative unknown to a TNA main eventer in a span of two months, and rumors are already flying that he may hold the TNA World Title by the New Year. He's the current ROH Pure Champion, and has taken that belt from midcard mediocrity to main event status in a 3 month span. He is consistently a participant in the best match of whatever card he's on, and has garnered a cult following comparable to that of Tommy Dreamer in late-90s ECW. Joe has become the face of Ring of Honor, and is quickly becoming the face of Total Nonstop Action. Samoa Joe represents the absolute best in the world of professional wrestling today. He is the standard of excellence, he is the measuring stick.

Quite simply, Samoa Joe IS pro wrestling.

by Matt Szimanski ..


Colm Kearns wrote:
A good article but I do have some diagreements. The first is your classifications of two sets of fans those who like the entertainment of wrestling and those who like the sport, I myself love watching long technical classics but I can also be entertained by in ring segments and promos and I'm not the only one, I understand the value of being able to work a crowd and cut promos well. Also I completely disagree with you that the ROH title is worth more than the WWE title. I wrote a multi part series on the history of the WWE title for this site so I am very knowledgeable about its history and value, in my opinion it is easily the most pretigious title in the world also you must remember that WWE have anational TV broadcast and PPV with set times so they don't ave the time to do a lot of the 1 hour matches you see in ROH. I won't dispute with you that Punk/Joe II deserved five stars because it did but it sums up Dave Meltzer that he didn't give Angle/Benoit RR '03, Angle/Lesnar Iron Man or Bret/Benoit from Oct '99 five stars and what makes Meltzer's opinion so important anyway he is not the be all and end all for wrestling critics/analysts.
Tyric Thompson wrote:
first of all I feel that joe is very impressive. second I don't feel his matches even match up to a tlc match.
Jason Simmons wrote:
First off man the Joe has only done things in the indy promotions until he draws real money or has a great match in the WWE or TNA once they become global none of his indy stuff means anything. I mean CM and his matches are stuff of legend my butt, ok one David Meltzer is not the high and mighty and has never step foot in the ring. while the match was good it was nothing that was mind blowing in my opinion. I will say this THe ROH title means nothing more than a indy belt. The WWE title is straight up the most important title in history, every big WWE name at one point has held the title. In all honestly Samoa has never drawn money either so you can't say he is huge until he drawn money on the level of a Steve Austin or Hulk Hogan.
jcmmnx wrote:
I really don't think that anyone who's actually seen the Joe vs Punk trilogy could doubt it's status as one of the best series of matches ever. Samoa Joe was easily the MVP of 2004 ,and with his dominance in TNA as well as ROH he could be the MVP of 2005 as well. I don't think that people should discredit the value of the ROH title simply because it isn't defended of TV or PPV. For those who follow ROH and what Joe has done for that belt it cleary IS an important championship for any wrestler to hold. Maybe the ROH title isn't on the level of the WWE's two titles,but I'm willing to bet that with a long title reign for TNA Joe could elevate that belt much like he did the ROH title and give WWE a run for it's money.
Paul Glantz wrote:
There are a few comments I have on your other wise fantastic work. The first is that you mentioned 2 types of wrestling fans. I have to disagree. Their are countless numbers of types of wrestling fans, with more being created everyday. So to say there are only 2, that just isn't fair.

Another things I want to comment on is you saying that the ROH title is bigger then the WWE and the TNA. That's just wrong, I'm sorry but it is. Right now the WWE Titles are the most famous in the world, giving them the prestige that is required to claim the "title" of being number 1. The TNA title, for those who don't know, is the NWA worlds heavyweight title. People like my dad who haven't seen wrestling in years know what the NWA title is. You have to remember that the NWA title is older then any other title out there today, making the most prestigious title in the world for the mere fact that it has been defended in more places by more people than any other. But because TNA isn't an as well know company, The NWA title isn't getting the exposure it deserves. Then you have the ROH title comming in third. ROH is still an Indy fed. they do not have a major a television contract, or even good advertising. They are completely unknown to most wrestling fans, but known enough that they are the biggest Indy fed out there.

Now I am on to your comments about Samoa Joe. You have mentioned that he is the face of ROH. No CM Punk is. In the words of the nature boy, "You gotta beat the man, to be the man.", well Joe did that, but to be a figure head you need to have the aura that says "I am the greatest", Joe can be as much of a bad ass as he wants, but he doesn't exude the aura of that of a Hogan, a HBK or even a Jarret.

You say that Joe is soon to be NWA world heavyweight champion, and the figure head of TNA. Well that just cant happen. Think about it, when you have guys like Raven, Jeff Jarret, Rhino(Rhyno), Sabu and more, Joe will be stuck in the X-division, were he belongs. Joe is a X wrestler, everything about him screams X division. Right now the figure head of TNA is Aj Styles and it will stay that way because he made his name there, he literally grew up as a wrestler there, were Joe is a product of ROH. Aj has one everyone of their titles at least twice. There is no comparing to that.

Joe is a great wrestler, who has all the skills you say he has and more, but his character doesn't allow him to be a figure head or a heavyweight champion out side the Indy circuit. He is a great wrestler who has found the perfect place for himself in the X division and I hope he gets to be champion and claim his piece of the wrestling world cake.
Mikey Christ wrote:
I agree with you Matt. The ROH title has been booked far better than the WWE titles have been. The WWE titles have better heritage and are regarded more because of its lineage but the ROH world title displays the best matches and usually hosts the best inring wrestlers. It is truly deserving of being labelled just as if not more prestigious than the WWE titles at this present time.

I have been a big fan of SAMOA JOE since I first saw him too because he looks like a legitimate badass and has the ring ability to excite any hardcore wrestling fan. I can't wait to meet him when he comes to Australia.
tim handlon wrote:
I completely agree with you matt if you ever see a hhh event live in the building you can feel the vibe he brings to the ring with him. Samoa joe does exactly the same every time you see him step through that curtain he brings a self esteem and a game plan and his game plan is stuck on destroy. He may be a little rough around the edges but if you see his speed and athleticism you are completely astonished and I agree that if you ever go to an arena with samoa joe in a match you will definately be impressed by the end of the nightand, the eerie music he has doesn't hurt either.
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