NXT Superstar Samoa Joe joined the WWE After the Bell Podcast to speak about his return to the black-and-gold brand.
The 42-year-old former NXT Champion will look to become the first ever three-time NXT Champion when he faces Karrion Kross at NXT TakeOver 36 for the NXT Championship. Joe spoke about what it’s going to be like wrestling for the first time since February of 2020.
“Obviously it’s good to be back, it’s good to be an active competitor again, I like the circumstances,” Joe said. “Coming back into NXT and fighting for the championship, it feels right, seems right. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to get back in the ring in front of the WWE Universe.”
Joe spoke about the concussion that forced him to miss more than a year of action and why he was so cautious about the injury. The former NXT Champion also spoke about what his game plan was from the day he got injured.
“It was just getting healthy,” Joe said. “A lot of times people have the tendency to over complicate their problems and make them finite and worse. Just adding to them by heaping extra pressures and uncertainties and stuff like that. My focus was simply just to get healthy. No other expectations put on it, no expectations to return to the ring, no expectations to be anything other than getting back to where I should be, getting my brain healthy and my body healthy and that was my main focus. Just because the people that I know around me and that I care about, I told them I would take that approach. See how my health came along, see how I felt, be careful with it, take extra time and just really concentrate on just getting better.
“That was my main focus and that’s what helped me. It was not thinking about all the extraneous stuff, not thinking about man will I ever be back in the ring again, will I ever do this again? A lot of it was kind of just having the hindsight of people that I know in this business going through very similar struggles including yourself Corey. Gathering the wealth of knowledge, taking the doctors advice, asking a lot of questions of other people who dealt with this in depth and throughout their career and making the best health decisions for me. Once we got through that process and I was comfortable with that, then we concentrated on getting in the ring and finding the best ways to do it and the best opportunity. The opportunity came to do commentary and I jumped at the chance because I don’t like sitting idly by for too long.”
Joe was just cleared to wrestle at the end of June. Joe noted how serious the concussion really was and how he didn’t want to make his return until he was fully healthy.
“It was a much worse injury than I think I had dealt with before, it scared a lot of people that care about me too,” Joe said. “They were very very concerned. It became very easy to make that focus as far as what I wanted to do and when I wanted to come back. Inevitably it was all just hinged on that, just making sure I was alright, making sure I was doing good and then when I came back to the ring I didn’t want to come back at a 70% or 60% capacity. I wanted to make sure that I could come back and give the best to the fans.
“I do play my cards close to the chest, that’s just the belief I have, as far as my persona in the public eye, we all go through struggles. We all go through our stuff, we’ve all got problems, we all deal with our own big things in life but I tend to keep mine amongst those that are very near and dear to me.”
After getting injured, Joe transitioned to the commentary team where he spent a year as a member of the announce team for Monday Night RAW. Joe spoke about transitioning to the commentary desk after almost two decades of viewing the action from inside the ring.
“There’s a time warp that happens,” Joe said. “The time that is perceived at the commentary desk is very different from the hyper speed reality that’s being experienced in the ring because you’re running at two different gears. Obviously the adrenaline is flowing in the ring, everything’s starting to slow down, you’re getting into that flow and it’s like what seems like forever is like a snap. When you get on the commentary desk, you realize how much production goes into getting your mug to look decent on television and getting to look mean and all this stuff.
“How much time you really do need to take just so they can swing to the different shots. The biggest thing I learned is just how incredibly difficult the sitting doing the main commentary job when it comes to RAW and SmackDown and how much you’re dealing with when you’re dealing with all the stuff backstage, changes, things on the fly. It is one of the most unique positions I think in sports period. No other commentary position, NFL, NBA, MLB, they don’t deal with a quarter of the insanity that has to be wrangled by the guys that are running the desk on RAW or SmackDown and NXT I’m sure. If you’re in that position, I can’t even begin to describe it to other people.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit WWE After the Bell with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.