Samoa Joe will team with Jay White & Juice Robinson to take on CM Punk & FTR in the first-ever AEW Collision main event tomorrow night (June 17).
To promote the premiere of the new show on TNT, Joe spoke to Sports Illustrated. It probably won’t surprise you to know that most of the quotes from Joe in the article are about Punk, and the issues between Punk and The Elite that have been hanging over AEW since at least last summer.
Even before it was official that Punk would return for the first time since the events on and after All Out last September, Joe was mentioned as a possible opponent for his fellow Ring of Honor Original. Joe told SI the roots of Saturday’s match & their friendship are in their early aughts rivalry in ROH:
“We’ve always competed to have the best match of the night, and that’s what we’re still competing to do. It was our ambition that brought us together. We were two young gentlemen who believed we were the best in the world and that we could take it to anybody. That was evident in the young versions of both of us, and it’s manifested to where we are today...
“When you look at the breadth of our careers, there was a large span of time when we didn’t touch. Now we’re back together, doing what we do best. I’m looking forward to seeing what he’s picked up, I’m down to show him what I’ve picked up, and we’ll see how it all hashes out in the ring.”
About what SI’s Dan Gartland calls “Punk’s ability to be a cult of personality and lightning rod of controversy”, Joe said:
“I understand the nature of the beast. It’s not a beast that’s easily tamed, so color me unsurprised. I don’t lie to myself and think that everybody acts the same way. People have their own interpretations of things. So color me [unfazed].
“The guy’s my friend. He’s been my friend for years, and I have a lot of respect for him. But I understand the nature of the beast. I know what to expect.”
Regarding the well-documented issues between Punk and others on the AEW roster like Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, and Hangman Adam Page, Gartland asked if Joe thinks those are due to the two sides coming from different generations. The reigning ROH Television champion was quick to shut that down, and give what is probably the only correct take on the whole kerfuffle:
“This isn’t a divide, it’s an argument between men. All those dudes don’t represent the entire genre of their generation. They have their own issues and their own problems. I don’t think it’s that deep. They’re grown-ass men. They have disagreements, they can figure it out or not. That’s between them.”
More Joe wisdom can be found in the Sports Illustrated piece here.