Interview: WWE NXT Champion Samoa Joe

This was originally published in VultureHound Magazine #12 which can be read here.

Triple H said it best, “We are NXT and we wrestle,” and that is exactly what the phenomenon of NXT came to Download to do. Talent such as Finn Balor, Baron Corbin, Bayley, and NXT Champion Samoa Joe went to the hallowed grounds of Donnington Park to wrestle at the biggest and most historic metal festival in the world.  

We were lucky enough to catch up with the NXT Champion just days after retaining his title at NXT Takeover: The End in a Steel Cage. 

 

We’ll start off with the events of Wednesday night. Do you think that will truly be “The End” of the feud between you and Finn? Surely a guy of Finn’s calibre is going to want to come back and try again?

Yeah, but there is a process to that and he’s going to have to go through it. But I think it is, man. I think the biggest obstacle was always going to be the demon. Who was going to be the first put him in the ground? It was me.

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In terms of the rivalry, where does it rank against all your others? Because the match at Takeover: Dallas was one of the most visceral and raw contests I’ve seen in a WWE ring in a long time.

Of the rivalries I’ve had in my career, I think visceral and raw is a pretty accurate description. It was real visceral, definitely personal; I would say it is in the company of the top three I’ve had in my career. Finn, for all the dislike we have for each other, is an amazing competitor and just having the chance to work with someone of that calibre, and go to war with him every night is great. He’s a competitor, and when he puts the paint on, he somehow gets a little bit stronger.

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Now that it is over and you are established as NXT champion, are you going to have an open door policy with regard to challengers? You’ve always come across as a fighting champ.

Yeah, for the most part! Whoever they put in front of me, that’s whose next. I’m very non-discriminatory when it comes to who I punch in the face. But then again Regal has always had his way with how things are done, and how the rankings are made up and granted, with a heavy emphasis on ‘made up’. We’ll see what he has next for me!

Triple H said after Takeover: The End that Nakamura was someone you should be keeping your eye on.

You know it is funny how things come full circle. Just like Finn, Nakamura came through Inoki Dojo, with which I have a history. I’m very aware of what he can do because I was there at the start when he was learning how to do it. If Nakamura is next, then bring him on.

We are now on the third day of NXT being at Download festival. I know you’ve done some of the American festivals; how are the UK crowds comparing? From what I understand, we aren’t very similar to the audience in the U.S.

They are a lot more coordinated, I’ll give them that. If you ever want to start a sing-a-long you start it in the UK. I think the general feeling towards the UK crowds is that they are a lot more fun loving. I think the intensity and passion is on par wherever you go, but in the UK they come to wrestling shows to have fun. In other places, they come with a more critical eye, but in the UK, they come more ready to just enjoy, less to criticise, even with some of the inventive things shouted yesterday. Like I said, they have a level of co-ordination that is unparalleled. I give them a lot of credit.

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With your experience and knowledge of the industry, with regard the upcoming Cruiserweight Classic, is there anyone in there that you would like to join the NXT ranks? Will you be playing a part of the Classic?

There are a couple of people from the UK who I think are going to do very well. Noam Dar, who I’m a big fan of and I’ve worked with a little in the past, is a tremendous talent. Zack Sabre Jnr. is another guy, who I think has criminally flown under the radar, especially in the States. Some of the other competitors they’ve been bringing in from Evolve are super solid, and have a chance to gain exposure and who know join NXT.

Do you know if you are going to be part of that? Because you’ve flown around those cruiserweight style matches?

I’ll probably head down and watch it because I’m a big fan of a lot of the competitors in the tournament. As far as being involved? Maybe I’ll be behind the scenes and check out the show, but that’ll be the extent of my involvement.

Final question, we are at a music festival, and music and wrestling seem to go hand in hand. Dream WrestleMania match: competitor, stipulation and band to play you out (A la Triple H and Motorhead at WrestleMania X7)?

It would be Brock. I want Brock at some point in my career, and then probably Rage Against the Machine, just because they are a favourite of mine.

Stipulation, maybe a submission match?

Just put us in a ring together, no need for stipulations, we are dangerous enough as it is.

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You can catch the stars of NXT each week on the WWE Network, alongside a whole library of WWE, WCW and ECW content for just £9.99 a month.