Samoa Joe is finally in WWE, well, NXT at least as he debuted last week on the WWE Network, facing off against NXT Champion Kevin Owens.
Joe left his longtime home at TNA a while back for an opportunity at WWE. He was a staple of TNA, one of the building blocks they used to achieve mediocre success in the wrestling industry. TNA even maintained a distant No. 2 status to WWE in the United States for quite a while before burying themselves on the Destination America channel that it’s hard for even me to find, let alone remember to watch. And, rumor is going around that Destination America may even be parting ways with TNA, although they are denying it. Either way, I think TNA has now become third behind Ring of Honor, which seems to be feeding WWE with some of its best talent as of late.
One example is the person Samoa Joe confronted during his debut on NXT, Kevin Owens. Better known to wrestling enthusiasts as Kevin Steen, under which name he held the RoH heavyweight and tag titles, the 31-year-old Canadian has garnered a lot of followers, especially in independent wrestling circles. And, just as other RoH stars have done, he has brought a lot of the independent wrestling focus onto WWE with his arrival and success at NXT.
For those who aren’t familiar with NXT, it is WWE’s developmental league which often feeds them new generation of stars. It’s like a baseball farm league except for wrestling. They have their own show on the WWE Network and were the beginning place for groups like the Nexus, the Wyatt Family and The Shield.
Contrary to what some may think, this isn’t a Tough Enough show where rookies are being trained to be wrestlers. NXT has several veterans, some trying to make their break into WWE and others who are moving in from other promotions. For instance, Rhyno is working at NXT now and anyone who has been around wrestling knows he dates back to the classic ECW years.
Now, back to Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens. When they brought Joe in this past week, he immediately sought out Owens. The plans are to have the pair feud in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, those of you who saw RAW on Monday night know Owens came out to answer John Cena’s United States Championship challenge. Owens sucker punched Cena and laid him out with his finisher. This sets up a match between the two at Elimination Chamber on May 31.
It would appear they are working an angle to transition Owens over to WWE in some capacity. And, in doing so at the same time, Owens is feuding with Joe over on NXT. I’d suspect this will be the transition for Joe to show up some night on RAW. I suspect he will get a HUGE pop when he debuts and WWE will have no option but to put him on its regular show.
Make no mistake about these NXT wrestlers. Their brand of wrestling is better than the main WWE shows. I think Vince McMahon feels he has to dumb down RAW and Smackdown for the masses so the work on the WWE shows isn’t nearly as good as it is on NXT. If you have WWE Network (and it’s free most months even if you don’t subscribe) check out NXT. You can get it on demand on the Network or watch the new episodes on Wednesday nights. You will see the show is better than what you see on TV most nights.
Locally, Tennessee All-Pro Wrestling has made some noticeable improvements to its studio over the past few weeks. They are now sporting a new ring, safety padding around the ring and metal crowd barriers, not to mention light and sound improvements. Their shows are at 8 p.m. every Saturday night at the old cheese plant at the intersection of Red Road and the bypass. Cost is $6 for adults and $4 for kids.