Samoa Joe had a long and winding road to get to WWE. He first began wrestling in 1999 and it wasn't until 2015 that he made his WWE debut at NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable.
"I had the greatest deal in the history of professional wrestling," said Joe about his time before signing a full-time WWE contract. "I could work for WWE, anybody else that I wanted to and collect income from every one of those companies, including merchandise. It was a really good deal. Obviously, my prospects in WWE they felt they were extremely limited even initially when I got in. That was fine with me. Here's the thing, it isn't something that is new to me. There has never been a company that has wanted me, which sounds insane."
Joe went on to talk about how whether in ROH, TNA or Japan, he always had offers so he didn't necessarily need them as much as they needed him. He embraces being a businessman in the world of pro wrestling and wrestlers should know their worth in order to maximize their earnings.
"We sacrifice ourselves every day when we go out there and I do it proudly," Joe stated. "At the end of the day I know what I signed up for and I do not shy away from that fact at all. There is a good chance that at 60 I will be in a wheelchair, but hey, I signed up for that, I know that.
"That being said, I have an extreme amount of respect for people that do value their worth and do maintain the integrity of the business. When guys go out there and sell themselves short and they are out here booking themselves out when they are really talented and devaluing the market, I am really opposed to that. I always tell guys to get paid what you are worth and know what you are worth so that if you are worth it you will get that number. I support guys that do that."
Joe's first taste of WWE came when he joined Ultimate Pro Wrestling (UPW) in 2000. At the time it was a WWE developmental affiliate and he trained and competed with John Cena, then known as The Prototype. It would be another 15 years before Joe signed with WWE full-time but he says he wasn't bitter about the long wait.
"It wasn't an issue to me because I had worked at a developmental for WWE," Joe said about UPW. "I was actually training talent to make the transition over to the WWE system, so I had the checklist and knew what they wanted.
"The entire time I wasn't sitting there going, 'oh man, how come WWE isn't hiring me?' The deals that I had were good, and even in my time during TNA, regardless of what others felt about me creatively I knew that we had a good business arrangement. My checks were never late. I know some people's were, but mine weren't and so it's hard for me to knock them but they did make an extraordinary effort in keeping my deal right, and when eventually that wore away I was done with them and WWE came about."
If any portion of these quotes are used, please be sure to credit the Notsam Wrestling podcast with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Sources: Notsam Wrestling
Source: Notsam Wrestling 201
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.