Samoa Joe is wrestling Karrion Kross for the NXT title at TakeOver 36 on Aug. 22.
Though we’ve had a month or so to get used to it, it’s still news that’s equal parts welcome and surprising. In early June, Joe was a free agent, having been released by WWE back in April. And he hadn’t worked in the ring since February of 2020, a break necessitated by a concussion he suffered while shooting a commercial.
So how did he make it back? Joe’s description of the process isn’t anywhere near as detailed as the comeback stories of guys like Daniel Bryan and Edge. But he did speak to Corey Graves and Vic Joseph about his approach on the latest edition of WWE’s After The Bell podcast:
“I kept it simple man, and it was just getting healthy. I think sometimes a lot of people have a tendency to overcomplicate their problems and make them finite - worse, just adding to them by heaping extra pressures, and uncertainties and stuff like that. So really my focus was simply just to get healthy. No other expectations put on it, no expectations to return to the ring, no expectations to kind of be in anything other than just kind of getting back to where I should be. Getting my brain healthy, getting my body healthy. And that was my main focus. And just because people that I know around me and that I care about, I told them I would take that approach, kind of 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. And I think that was my main focus and that was kind of what helped me. Not thinking about the extraneous stuff, not thinking about, ‘Man, will I ever be back in there in the ring again, will I ever do this again.’
“And a lot of it was just having the hindsight of seeing other people that I know in this business going through very similar struggles, yourself included Corey, and kind of gathering the wealth of knowledge, taking the doctors advice, asking a lot of questions of other people who have dealt with this in-depth and throughout their career, and making the best health decisions for me. And kind of once we got through that process and I was comfortable with that, then we concentrated on getting back to the ring, and kind of finding the best ways to do it, and the best opportunity. And during the entire time, like I said, I like to keep busy. I’m never one to shirk away from a little work, so when the opportunity came to do commentary, or when the opportunity came to maybe do a panel or other things within WWE, I jumped at the chance because I don’t like sitting idly by for two long.”
Joe was frank about what he was facing when he started the process:
“It was a much worse type of injury than I think I had ever dealt with before. Scared me, scared a lot of people that care about me, too. They were very, very concerned. So it became very easy to make that the focus, as far as what I want to do, when I wanted to come back. Inevitably it was all kind of hinged on that - making sure I was alright, making sure I was feeling good and then when I came back to the ring, I didn’t want to come back in a 70%, 60% capacity. I wanted to make sure I could come back and give the best that I could to the fans.”
Glad it all worked out.
Elsewhere on the pod, Joe talked about his talent scouting role in NXT, potential match-ups on the roster, and his plan to “beat the brakes off” Kross. Check it out here.