Source: Sam Robertsí Wrestling Podcast
Recently, the new NXT Champion Samoa Joe was a guest on Sam Roberts' Wrestling Podcast. Joe addressed a number of topics including how he made his way to WWE's NXT, why he was able to keep his ring name, and meeting Vince McMahon.
"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."
The new NXT Champion said that he was in talks with WWE for several months before making his NXT debut. Apparently, WWE worried that offering him an opportunity to join its developmental roster would be construed by the professional wrestling veteran as a slap in the face.
"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."
Samoa Joe claimed that Triple H's vision was to bring Joe in to bolster the NXT roster and build it as its own viable brand.
"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."
As for the question of why he was able to keep his own ring name in WWE, Joe joked that having "a really good lawyer who's down with the trademark law" made it easy. Also, Joe pointed out that he was in a rare situation for an NXT talent of having built up name recognition over a 10+ year professional wrestling career. Throwing that away at this point would not have been the most prudent move.
"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."
Finally, Joe said that he has met Vince McMahon, but he does not know what WWE's Chairman thinks of him.
"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."
To listen to the podcast, click here. If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit Sam Roberts' Wrestling Podcast with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
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