The world of pro wrestling has often been dominated by white men with chiselled bodybuilder-esque physiques. From Superstar Billy Graham to Hulk Hogan to Stone Cold Steve Austin, these men have left their mark on pro wrestling.
But then you have a man like Samoa Joe. What a puzzle! He doesn't have a body builder's physique--though his athleticism is never in question. Neither is he white, or from the famous Anoa'i wrestling family which includes Nia Jax and The Rock.
Samoa Joe is definitely a unique competitor, one of the most recognizable and respected athletes to ever lace up a pair of boots. Capable of mat wrestling, power moves, and even sailing through the air with a grace that belies his bulk, he continues to captivate audiences around the world.
At one time, many thought he would never sign with WWE, for the reasons mentioned above. Joe simply didn't fit the mould of a WWE superstar -- or so people thought.
Now, however, he's a multi-time champion in WWE and seems to be gearing up for a feud with WWE champion Kofi Kingston. Given all of the attention on Joe, you might think you know everything about him.
But that might not be the case. Here are ten things you never knew about Samoa Joe.
#1 He appeared at the 1984 Olympics -- but not as a competitor
Way back in 1984, the summer Olympics were happening in Los Angeles, California. As part of the opening ceremonies, a Polynesian dance troupe called Tiare Productions was invited to perform a traditional Samoan dance.
One of the members of the troupe was none other than Samoa Joe! At the tender age of five years old, he performed with his parents as part of Tiare Productions. This would have been Joe's first time in front of a camera, more than a decade before his first match in 1999.
From time to time in Impact wrestling, Joe would perform an abbreviated version of a Samoan Dance on his way to the ring. Now you know that he wasn't just doing this for the show, but he is a trained dancer.
#2 John Cena has been friends with him for years
Long before he was the "Face that Runs the Place" in WWE, John Cena was just starting out as a pro wrestler.
He joined other trainees at the Ultimate Pro Wrestling Federation, a small regional promotion that also had its own wrestling school. Among his fellow trainees was a young Samoa Joe eager to learn his craft.
The connection between the two men goes deeper than just being students at the same school, or wrestling for the same regional promotion, however. It seems that the two struck up a friendship with one another.
John Cena even invited Samoa Joe over to his house for Bar B Que after Ultimate Pro Wrestling Shows. It would be intriguing if WWE were to touch upon this prior relationship as part of a storyline or angle.
#3 He wrestled for WWE once before his current contract
He wasn't the Samoan Submission Machine yet, but Samoa Joe did actually wrestle for WWE prior to his 2015 debut for the NXT brand.
Back in 2001, WWE was still pushing their Light Heavyweight division as a counter to the WCW's cruiserweight division. One man they had under contract was Essa Rios. Though he would become overshadowed by his manager/valet Lita as her star continued to shine bright, he still is remembered as one of the most gifted in-ring performers who has ever worked for WWE.
During this era, WWE would often use young wrestlers as enhancement talent. Samoa Joe was essentially fed to Essa Rios in a match. Joe was smaller and lacked the great ring psychology or hard-hitting moves of his current incarnation, but you can see the seeds being planted for future greatness.
#4 Samoa Joe still holds the record as the longest reigning Ring of Honor Champion
When Ring of Honor was still establishing itself, they sought to create a unique experience which would cater to the niche market of die-hard pure pro wrestling fans.
In order to make it in Ring of Honor, an athlete had to not only know how to wrestle, but they also had to be damn good at it. Not only did Ring of Honor expect the highest levels of performance from its day to day wrestlers, but they also had an extensively intricate criteria to be met in order to be a champion in the promotion.
Samoa Joe ticked all of the boxes. He was intense, technically sound, had great psychology, and despite being a heavyweight had enough speed to keep up with the smaller wrestlers Ring of Honor tends to favour. His title reign lasted 645 days, nearly two continuous years as champion.
It's a record which has as of yet to be broken.
#5 Samoa Joe worked as a mortgage broker
While some might think Joe's job prior to wrestling would have involved athletics in some fashion, such as being a personal trainer or coach, the truth is he was a mortgage broker.
A mortgage broker is about as far away from pro wrestling as you can get. Joe's job was to speak with prospective clients about their housing needs and find a way for them to pay for a home via bank loans.
It's an unlikely career choice for a man who would eventually be known as a violent Samoan Submission Machine.
#6 Samoa Joe's trainer was none other than NXT's own William Regal
Like many pro wrestlers, William Regal often supplemented his income by training prospective grapplers on the finer points of pro wrestling.
Many people might be surprised to learn that one of William Regal's students was none other than Samoa Joe.
Regal worked for Ultimate Pro Wrestling as both a trainer and an in-ring talent. During his tenure with Ultimate Pro Wrestling, William Regal oversaw the burgeoning career of the promising Samoa Joe. Regal has always been known for being one of the 'stiffer' competitors. This means that his submission holds are snugger, his blows a little harder, and that being tough is tantamount to being a pro wrestler.
Fortunately, we all know how tough Samoa Joe is, and he easily passed muster in William Regal's eyes. What a reunion it must have been when Joe joined NXT in 2015!
#7 He was known as King Joe in Japan
There's an unwritten rule when it comes to American wrestlers competing in Japan.
Either you get saddled with an animal gimmick, or you get turned into some sort of monarchy. Why this is done, no one is quite sure but it has to do with marketing.
Animal gimmicks included such gems as Lionheart Chris Jericho, Black Tiger Eddie Guerrero, and Wild Pegasus Chris Benoit.
Samoa Joe was known as King Joe, so that makes him outrank a mere prince. Joe was often teamed with other wrestlers of Samoan heritage, but you might recognize one of his tag team partners as Nick Aldis, AKA Magnus from Impact wrestling.
#8 He's an enthusiastic video game player
Everyone knows that Xavier Woods of the New Day is an avid gamer. His Up Up Down Down channel is one of the most recognizable and watched programs available on the world wide web.
Likewise, people recognize that Kenny Omega is a major league video game fanatic. He has even named many of his moves after video game characters and their special techniques. Not only that, but his theme song in New Japan Pro Wrestling was a knock off to the Dr Wiley theme music from the Mega Man video game series.
At one time, Samoa Joe was so active he had his own Twitch stream under the name SamoaJoegames. Though the account is no longer active--probably due to the rigorous WWE road schedule he must maintain -- Joe brings the same intensity to video games that he does to his performances in the ring.
#9 He is a former California State Judo Champion
When it comes to pro wrestling success, studying Judo seems to be a great way to get your start.
Rowdy Roddy Piper was trained by the legendary Judo Gene LaBell prior to becoming a pro wrestler. Though Hot Rod's brawling style didn't involve much martial arts, he did utilize his Judo training for taking bumps and for his movie roles, such as They Live.
Samoa Joe was the California State Junior Judo Champion prior to becoming a pro wrestler. No doubt the discipline and martial arts skills he picked up during his time as a Judoka played heavily into his in-ring style.
#10 He is the only man in TNA/Impact wrestling history to retain his title in the gruelling King of the Mountain Match
Before WWE started its own multi competitor ladder match with the Money in the Bank, TNA/Impact wrestling had the King of the Mountain match.
Named after TNA founder/former president Jeff Jarrett, the match involved at least five competitors competing for the world title. Unlike other ladder matches, the title belt did not dangle over the ring waiting to be snatched.
Instead, a bare wire drifted aimlessly over the ring, and the only way to win was to beat your opponents senseless enough that you could climb a ladder and hang the title belt on the wire.
Understandably, this puts the defending champion at a tremendous disadvantage. To date, only one man has ever successfully defended his title in such a King of the Mountain Match.
There you have it: Ten things you didn't know about Samoa Joe. Questions or comments? Please leave them after the article and as always thanks for reading!