Samoa Joe will face AJ Styles for the WWE Championship at Hell in a Cell on Sunday, September 16. The Samoan Submission Specialist is once again fighting for the gold and his supporters are surely hoping he leaves Hell in a Cell as the new champion.
But this is more than just another championship match. This is about a hardworking veteran Superstar earning his spot at the top and now the time is right for the company to come through for him. So will Joe become the new top guy on SmackDown Live or will this match be another successful title defense for The Phenomenal One? The fact is Samoa Joe needs this win at Hell in a Cell.
Joe is a star, there is no denying that. He took an already successful career and translated it to Vince McMahon’s company, which was something that many fans doubted was possible. It’s not that Joe’s talents were ever called into question. Fans knew that if given the opportunity, Joe would be able to get over in WWE.
But there was always some uncertainty when it came to the leadership of WWE. Would the company allow Joe to be himself or would he have to conform to a weaker style, one that would handicap his character? For that matter, would Joe even have the same character that he made famous or would WWE change him from the very beginning?
Watch Samoa Joe play mind games with AJ Styles:
However Samoa Joe is the same now as he was before he came to NXT and then to WWE’s main roster. Joe was a destroyer then and that’s what he is now as well. The company sees the value in keeping Joe as vicious as ever and it’s working on every level. Joe may be a heel but he is one of the most popular Superstars in the industry today. He’s has the respect of his peers and the fans alike.
But when it comes to his WWE run, Joe hasn’t always delivered in the end. This is through no fault of his own and has nothing to do with his actual ring work. Joe is always on his game and has really never looked better between the ropes. However when was the last time Samoa Joe had a mission, followed through on every step and came away with the win in the end?
This is the part where some fans would argue that wins don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things and perhaps that’s true. Oftentimes fans put too much emphasis on who goes over in the end, instead of focusing on the story itself. But in this case, wins are indeed important, if only to reinforce Joe’s position as the main event threat that he should be.
In the time that Joe has worked on the main roster, he’s lost nearly every feud. He came in like a house of fire and took Seth Rollins down but Joe couldn’t get past Brock Lesnar or Roman Reigns. Joe looks dominant every time he works but that dominance doesn’t always lead him to victory. Fans don’t typically view him as a guy that cannot come through in the clutch and that’s due in large part to his popularity.
Watch AJ take Joe down on SmackDown Live:
The WWE faithful understands what Joe brings to the table. They also understand just how important he is to the product. Then there’s the fact that Samoa Joe is not in charge of his own booking. He, like every other WWE Superstar, is at the mercy of creative. If the plans dictate that Joe lose a match, then he loses that match. It’s just that simple.
Some may say that Joe really cannot be hurt at this point and perhaps that’s true as well. Win or lose, Joe is Joe and nothing changes that. He’s just as relevant before the match as he is afterward and he never loses the crowd. So why does it matter if he doesn’t walk away from the feud with AJ as the new WWE champion?
It matters because Samoa Joe should be more. He’s earned more. This is not about handing a title to a guy for shock value. This is about doing right by a guy that steps up every time WWE calls his number. Joe could go his entire WWE career without ever winning a title and he would still go into the Hall of Fame. But shouldn’t he be among the championship elite of the company? Doesn’t he deserve that distinction?
Of course fans cannot forget about the current WWE champion. Much like Joe, AJ Styles is a man that came in with high expectations even though many felt the company would not fully support him. But AJ got over just as Joe did and now it’s difficult to imagine a WWE without them. But that’s where the major difference between the two comes into play. AJ excelled while Joe remained in the same spot.
Watch Joe’s “fable” on SmackDown Live:
Styles is a top guy and he enjoys the company’s backing every step of the way. WWE knows what it has in AJ and the champ is more than willing to hold up his end of the deal. Everyone expects AJ to be phenomenal and that’s exactly what he is. It comes naturally to him and everyone knows it.
Fans should be happy about AJ’s success and they surely are. Styles has earned every accolade he has and he continues to impress in every match. AJ shouldn’t lose his championship simply because Joe has earned it. If a title change is not logical right now and could hurt AJ in the long run, then the belt should stay right where it is.
But if the timing is right and if it serves the story, then Samoa Joe should be the new WWE champion on September 16. It doesn’t mean he can’t lose the title back to Styles by the end of the year or possibly in early 2019. However a win would mean more for Joe as a main event powerhouse than anything else at this point. It would also mean a lot to his fans, who recognize just how much he deserves the title.
Joe and AJ were meant to feud against each other. They are opposite sides of the same coin but they have more chemistry together than perhaps any other two Superstars in WWE. Fans know that Joe versus AJ at Hell in a Cell is going to be good, just as all of their matches have been thus far. But if it ends with a Samoa Joe win, then it will mean that much more. No matter what happens, fans will get their money’s worth and ultimately, that’s the most important thing.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Wrestling Rumors. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on iTunes,YouTube, iHeart Radio, boinkstudios.com and live every Friday at 12pm EST on Wrestling Rumors Facebook Live