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Samoa Joe (english)
CAGEMATCH: Thank you for giving us from www.cagematch.de the chance to ask some questions.
SAMOA JOE: No problem, always a pleasure.
CAGEMATCH: What first made you want to get into pro wrestling? Were you a wrestling fan growing up? When did you say, "That is what I want to do"? And what did your family/friends say about that?
SAMOA JOE: I was a casual Pro Wrestling fan growing up, but always enjoyed and was entertained by it. I actually began wrestling when I was asked to stay after a grappling class and try out Pro Wrestling. I tried one session and I was "hooked". As for my family and friends, they where all very supportive if not somewhat in a state of shock when they found out.
CAGEMATCH: What was it like to be in the ring as a wrestler, for the first time (after just 3 months of training)? Was it exciting or was it hard for you to wrestle in front of a live crowd?
SAMOA JOE: It was a bit nerve racking, but I was not overly nervous, I had grown up as a entertainer for years with my family's Polynesian dance company so I had gotten of my "stage fright" a long time ago. Still pro wrestling is unlike any other form of sport or entertainment in the world so it still was a bit nerve racking.
CAGEMATCH: Wrestling is a hard business. Are there any wrestlers/promoters you call true fans? Are there some guys that you don’t like (to work with)?
SAMOA JOE: Umm I have worked for alot of promoters and I am fortunate to say that I truly have had no poor dealings with any. Of course I have been on shows where I have seen other wrestlers being shorted pay, but I try to do a good job of handling financial business and preventing such situations. As for people I don't like to work with, its not really a factor. If by some chance I do have a dislike for someone (which is honestly a rarity) I have no qualms about handling it in the ring.
CAGEMATCH: Let’s talk about your wrestling style. In one of your columns on your website (www.samoajoe.cjb.net) you said that you see wrestling as a legitimate martial art. Please tell us something why you see wrestling as this and what you think about the way it is seen in the USA (mainly in the WWE).
SAMOA JOE: Simply put Pro Wrestling is a derivative of Catch wrestling which was basically wrestling incorporating submission locks, and chokes. Though it is becoming a forgotten art there are still some very legitimate techniques and precepts that are more then effective when placed in a shoot environment. You can trace Pro Wrestling's roots to ancient Greece as one of the first Martial arts in the world. Overall I feel pro wrestlers are too far detached from the origins of there art. I think a better understanding of what pro wrestling was, helps build better pro wrestlers.
CAGEMATCH: Your wrestling style is pretty stiff. I know that injuries come with the easiest moves, but isn’t there a higher risk of injuries if you wrestle like you’re doing it? And speaking of injuries, are you scared that you could injure yourself and be out of wrestling for a longer time?
SAMOA JOE: Well I guess I am often described as "stiff", but I think that my injury records with opponents speaks for itself, sure they may be sore and a little battered but VERY rarely do you find my opponents or myself injured. I work hard to perfect my style of wrestling and though I will strike hard and stretch out submissions, I also am conscious of how far I can take it and I don't need to injure people in order to get myself over. As for self injury that is always a concern yet if you hesitate with fear that is most likely when you will hurt yourself.
CAGEMATCH: Now let’s move on to your wrestling career. If you have to choose one thing in your career as your “breakout moment”, what would it be? Your time with UPW and you becoming an instructor at their wrestling school? Or maybe your first trip to Japan?
SAMOA JOE: Wow its tough to say, I think my biggest head turning moment that made people take notice was upsetting Masato Tanaka in the inaugural ZERO ONE Burning Heart Tournament.
CAGEMATCH: Now that you’ve seen both, the US fans and the Japanese fans, what would you see as the biggest difference? And if you have to choose, which crowd do you like more?
SAMOA JOE: Hmm Well honestly they are not a different as you think, I hear people say Japanese fans are polite and quiet but I feel that is hardly the case. If anything I think Japanese fans are more accepting and want you to succeed while American fans and a bit more cynical. If anything what's the match get rolling you will find the both cheer just as loud. These days I do prefer the Japanese fans yet lately I have had great experiences with some great indy fans across the country.
CAGEMATCH: Let’s go through some promotions you’ve worked for. I’ll start with “the big one” the WWE(F). You’ve had some matches for them and even got a TV match as you faced Essa Rios for a Jakked taping. What is it like to work for the biggest promotion in the US? Is it something special or is it just like working for any other promotion?
SAMOA JOE: WWE is always a "BIG" experience, big in the fact that they have the most elaborate productions of ANY wrestling company in the world, Also the treatment is first class as far as locker rooms, catering, arena's etc. etc. Of course your first time in a WWE ring is always a special moment but once the bell rings its back to pro wrestling, which is always a comfortable situation for me.
CAGEMATCH: On to UPW. Is UPW something you’d call your “wrestling home”? And what are your thoughts on the company, Rick Bassman and the UPW crowd?
SAMOA JOE: I was very heavily involved with UPW a year and a half ago, but as time went on I was working for several other organizations and my time commitment to them was reduced, so I cannot truly call ANY company my home. UPW as a company is like a Chameleon as it changes with its environment its goals a year and a half ago are VERY different from there goals now. As for Rick Bassman he is probably one of the most aggressive, and intuitive people I have ever met, when he sees opportunity he pounces upon quicker then anyone else I have seen. At his best he is one of the most Pro active individuals I have ever met. The UPW crowd is like a old glove. The same group of people hate me while the same group love me. Its fun to revisit on occasion when I do wrestle there.
CAGEMATCH: Now we’ll fly over the ocean and talk about ZERO ONE. How did you come into ZERO ONE?
SAMOA JOE: Well very long story short Shinya Hashimoto was searching for new foreign pro wrestling talent for his new promotion. ZERO ONE was a heavily "Shoot Style" influenced promotion when I began there, but as time went on it has evolved into the most diverse wrestling company in the world. My initial trip to ZERO ONE was suppose to be a one time affair but the bosses enjoyed my work they invited me back for its inaugural "Burning Heart Himatsuri" (Tournament/ Fire Festival). I have been working semi regularly with them every since.
CAGEMATCH: What are your thoughts on your trips to Japan? Is it something you love to do or is it just a job to go there and wrestle?
SAMOA JOE: I absolute love Japan, its culture, the fans, the wrestlers, the style and hell even the food. In Japan pro wrestling is a celebrated affair and there is much more respect and enjoyment of the sport by Japanese people. Also in Japan pro wrestling is still considered a "sport" where as in the US it has fallen under the auspices of "entertainment".
CAGEMATCH: Which match would you consider your best match for ZERO ONE and which one was your personal favorite?
SAMOA JOE: Once again a very difficult question. I guess my rule of thumb is anything involving myself, Shinjiro Otani, or Masato Tanaka I mark as some of my favorites. Both wrestlers are phenomenal and really push your game to another level.
CAGEMATCH: In an older interview I read a story about Ayako Hamada from ARSION, Christopher Daniels and you. Would you mind to tell us this story or is this one to long for this interview?
SAMOA JOE: Well I guess the easiest way to do this is just to reproduce the originally written version of the story for you. To give a bit of back-story Chris Daniels is a man I HIGHLY respect and I am proud to call a friend, that being said I do not think anyone in the world gives him a harder time then me. The Fallen Angel and I are constantly at odds over a variety of things Ayako being one of the first sooooo heeere we go .
Anyway one day while relaxing backstage before a show I was looking at some of Chris Daniels picture in a Japanese Magazine and I see a picture of Ayako. I inquire about her commenting that she is quite "Fly" . At which point the Fallen Angel begins telling me how he is the man and she in Curryman's #1 fan, Blah Blah Blah. So the bet was made who would meet provide photographical proof of being over with Ayako (note I say Over as in friends). Anyway Chris had first crack doing a 5-week stint with MPRO but failed miserably. I'm doing a 3-week with Z1 and mention casually to the Zero One ring announcer I had to meet Ayako. Needless to say one phone call later dinner was arranged for that weekend. Unbeknownst to me ZERO ONE's ring announcer was formerly ARSION's ring announcer and very good friends with Ayako. great time had by all, Ayako and I are still good friends, and Chris Daniels knows to never doubt my "mystical powers".
CAGEMATCH: Back to the US and to Ring of Honor. You’ve wrestled some matches there and the crowd was really into these matches. What do you think about their concept in showing more pure wrestling and less “sports entertainment”?
SAMOA JOE: I enjoy it. I feel ROH is providing a product that is very different from the ECW formula many promotions try to follow and creating there own unique brand of show. "Sports Entertainment" is by no means a "bad" style I just and in all honesty I think a mix of the two styles could help liven up the current pro wrestling scene.
CAGEMATCH: You’ve also been part of APW’s King of Indies tournament in 2001 which I think was one of the best (if not the best) US Indies show I’ve ever seen. What was it like to be involved in this?
SAMOA JOE: A really great experience. KOI was where I first met some great talents in American Dragon, Low Ki, Doug Williams and Scoot Andrews. A really fun weekend with a crazy group of guys I doubt the experience will ever be duplicated.
CAGEMATCH: Now some general questions. Do you have any dream opponent you’d like to face sometime in the future?
SAMOA JOE: Hmm well I will give the standard wrestler answer and say Chris Benoit, also Kurt Angle, Shinya Hashimoto one on one, Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima, defiantly William Regal one more time.
CAGEMATCH: You’ve held several titles in your career. Is “wearing a championship belt” or “being a champion” something special for you?
SAMOA JOE: It all depends on the promotion. The bigger the promotion the harder it is to earn that title spot, if there is very little personal effort involved in winning a title then I rarely care about it as much.
CAGEMATCH: What do you think about the fans? Do you feel fans today are too demanding? Is it to much “we want more high spots and bumps”?
SAMOA JOE: No I do not feel that way at all. I feel if the fans ARE demanding that from you then its only because of your ineptitude at more basic techniques. I have never been a flashy wrestler, I have never been a highspot machine, yet rarely do I have fans chanting for me to hit my ever elusive triple jump torneo de quebrada gamma number 4, of course it would also help if I knew what the hell that was. I mean I agree modern pro wrestling needs "flash" but I think many guys would be amazed at the reaction a well placed kick or lariat would get in comparison to a over contrived sequence of meaningless moves. I think the bottom line is fans want to see pain, some people need tables chairs and barb wire to do it, I just need myself.
CAGEMATCH: What was the funniest story you’ve experienced inside a wrestling ring/locker room?
SAMOA JOE: FAR too many to list or recite. I have enough funny anecdotes to fill 3 books lets alone a few paragraphs. I guess a safe one would be the time I blew up Kohei Sato's phone. Myself and a few other Gaijin where using firecrackers to give other people a hotfoot when the where not expecting. When the Japanese caught on I was told by Shinjiro Otani to get Kohei Sato who was standing around rather unaware of the world around him. Hashimoto had also heard of the scheme and upped the ante by ordering me to place the firecrackers in his pocket. Not to disappoint I snuck up on Kohei while Otani distracted him, and placed a large quantity of lit firecrackers in his pocket. after the smoke had cleared and the laughter had died down Kohei stared at me with a terrified face, then pulled his now mangled smoking cellular phone from his pocket. Hmm Kohei and I do not speak that much anymore ;) .
CAGEMATCH: What are the future plans for Samoa Joe? Is he going to Japan? Trying to get into WWE?
SAMOA JOE: Well it is always difficult to know what the future holds. I am sure I will continue on with ZERO ONE, but I feel its time to try my hand at some more high profile work here in the US.
CAGEMATCH: Is there anything you want to say to your German fans?
SAMOA JOE: To the fine people of Germany I just want to say support professional wrestling in all its incarnations, get as much footage as you can and build your appreciation of the sport.
CAGEMATCH: Thanks a lot for answering our questions! We wish you all the best for your future!
SAMOA JOE: Thank you and continued success!
Sports Entertainment: Misnamed
"Wrestling is fake!": I invite you to find out how fake it is.
US Independent Wrestling: Unorganized, yet fun
Vince McMahon: The owner of the industry not only WWE
Brett Wagner: Chubby yet tolerable
Tommy Dreamer: Heart
Christopher Daniels: The focal point of most of my pranks, yet more deserving of a WWE contract then most of their current roster
B-Boy: Can't hold his liquor
Super Dragon: Brought up in a lot of "word association" games I play.
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