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From Punk vs. Perry to AEW/WWE tribalism, Samoa Joe has a great answer for everything

All Elite Wrestling

One of the arguments for crowning Samoa Joe AEW World champ was that he’d be a stable, veteran-presence who could help to steady the ship for Tony Khan after another turbulent year.

And from shortly after Joe won the strap at Worlds End, he’s made everyone who made that argument look pretty smart.

Joe’s doing press in support of his title defense against HOOK on Dynamite tonight (Jan. 17), and each answer the champ gives is better than the last. It doesn’t matter the topic, either. Joe has a cool-sounding-yet-professional answer to whatever’s thrown at him.

The ones grabbing headlines today come from Joe’s chat with ESPN’s Marc Raimondi, and concern DJ Whoo Kid’s recent first-hand account of the CM Punk/Jack Perry fight backstage at Wembley Stadium immediately before the start of the PPV portion of All In last August. Whoo Kid didn’t know the name of the guy he saw breaking things up and getting everyone focused on the show. But seeing as his story lined up with what we’d already heard about Joe playing coach/peacemaker, it was easy to deduce who the identity of the “Hawaiian-looking [guy]” Whoo Kid was talking about.

Here’s what Joe told Raimondi about it:

“There was a little bit of an incident. We got it broken up. We went out there and wrestled, man. That’s the gist of it. Everybody wants it to be a lot more than what it is, but that’s what it was. And to speak any more on it would be pointless unless you’re trying to get a scorecard and stuff — but trust me, it wasn’t that type of a fight.”

Asked if it was “a big deal”, Joe replied:

“Not to me. I’ve seen fights break out. Stuff happens. But again, that’s me. I’ve been in these situations, I’ve seen that. I’ll find it funny when people are like, ‘Oh, Joe’s cool with it.’ I mean, nah man, it was a high-stress situation. Sure. But I mean, it’s one I’ve seen happen many times. We get it squashed out. We had a show to do. We had [81,035] fans waiting out there. And that was my focus, because that’s what it was about at that moment. We’re about to go out and have the best night of our lives.”

And on people saying he was “the voice of reason”:

“Hey, listen, we all understood that there was something to be done. There was a mission ahead of us and everybody just got focused. And hey, if I was a part of that, cool. But my intention was to get out there and get this show on the road.”

Raimondi also asked Joe about the controversy stirred up by his boss regarding his match with HOOK and WWE’s Seth Rollins/Jinder Mahal title match on this week’s Raw. He no sold TK’s tweets, choosing to instead make the case for his match and why it’s worth watching:

“That had nothing to do with me. I mean, that’s just really a cute little debate. I’m glad everybody’s chimed in on it. But on paper, Hook sounds like the perfect challenger. I mean, he’s 29-1. He’s got the stats, but let’s see if he’s got the heart. And I think that’s what this match is really about. We’ve set a new standard for who will get the championship shots around here. And it’s gonna bring up a lot of discussion and disagreements. So, I more than welcome this opening chapter. And as for Hook, I mean, he’s a tremendous young athlete. When you look at this guy, you look at a guy with limitless potential. He has the pedigree. We will take him in and find out what he’s made of.”

That also set the stage for a question about negativity among wrestling fans online, where Joe really hits the nail on the head:

“Because online fandom isn’t about sharing an experience with somebody. It’s about being right. It’s about having a point of view and then finding every tidbit or morsel to support that point of view and hammering away against the other people who may have an opposing point of view. It’s a different type of fandom that I think people don’t recognize, and it’s not really about the product, the fighters, or people in general. It’s just about beating this other person at the other end of the Twitter handle, or whatever it may be. That’s really what it boils down to. I best sum it up this way. I’ve never heard somebody say, ‘Man, I really changed a lot of people’s minds with that tweet.’”

In another interview with Sports Illustrated’s Justin Barrasso, Joe used the topic of Jon Moxley’s upcoming match with Tetsuya Naito — which could be for New Japan’s top belt if Naito holds onto the IWGP World Heavyweight title that long — to tease a feud with Mox and highlight an advantage AEW has over WWE:

“Moxley doing that, it doesn’t surprise me at all. If I were Mox, I’d look to take someone else’s belt, too. He wants to fight any other champion in the world but me. There was thought behind what he did. Let’s not deny that.

“And that gets back to the wonder of AEW: it’s a worldwide marketplace. You can compete against champions from around the world, not just hidden in your own pocket dimension where no one else can get it. If Mox wants to parade that belt around the real world’s champion, I’d be more than happy to give him a better perspective on where his championship reign really stands.”

While talking to SI, Joe also wove the new belt he was carrying last Wednesday nicely into his character:

“That was done on my behalf, and it is a wonderful piece of gold from the Khan family. “It’s not going anywhere for a long time, so [with the new custom side plates] we’re letting everyone know who the champion is.

“It’s my championship belt under my reign, so it needed to reflect my values. The belt was very fancy looking before. My belt belongs among kings and queens, not looking like it’s going to be paraded around the Hamptons on the weekend.”

He also fielded a question from Barrasso about the HOOK match being sponsored by the new Suicide Squad game. Joe shooting down concern this would be another Texas Chainsaw Massacre Death Match might be the best of the bunch:

“I’m going to bring along the savageness of King Shark [the character he voices in Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League]. It’s going to be best displayed in the evisceration of Hook in front of millions of people around the world... Don’t worry about [product] integration. Just worry about Hook’s safety.”

The SI piece closes out with a mission statement/warning from Joe that applies to AEW’s on-screen product and behind-the-scenes culture:

“My mission is to shift the focus back to the greatest thing in AEW, and that’s the wrestling. If not, there are going to be consequences. For far too long, consequences haven’t been around. That’s going to change on AEW television.”

You tell ‘em, champ. As long as Joe’s talking, we’ll be listening.

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