The exodus of talent from TNA Wrestling continued Tuesday with the departure of Samoa Joe. The Samoan Submission Machine announced the split on his Twitter account.
I have decided to part ways with @ImpactWrestling. My very best to them moving forward, and my eternal thanks to the fans.
— Samoa Joe (@SamoaJoe) February 17, 2015
TNA Executive Vice President John Gaburick confirmed Joe’s exit.
On expiration of @SamoaJoe contract, TNA and Joe have agreed to part ways. Joe will always be a member of our family & we wish him the best.
— John Gaburick (@JohnGaburick) February 17, 2015
This is TNA, so there’s always a chance the company is trying to “swerve” the fans. If this is legit, it’s another blow to the fledgling company, which already lost its most recognizable homegrown talent, A.J. Styles, along with mainstays such as Christopher Daniels and the company’s lead heel, Bully Ray. Losing a guy who was playing a prominent role in the company’s top heel faction is a bad look. Unfortunately, it’s not surprising.
Joe likely has a lot of options for his next home. He could take the Styles route of working Ring of Honor, indies and Japan. Styles has proven that leaving TNA can be lucrative, and he’s parlayed it into being a featured player in New Japan Pro Wrestling and the current IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Joe’s hard-hitting style would fit in well with NJPW where he could work smash-mouth matches with Tomohiro Ishii and Togi Makabe or the top-of-the-card with Styles, his old storyline running buddy Kazuchika Okada, Shinsuke Nakamura and Hiroshi Tanahashi.
ROH may be good for a few bookings, but as the Wrestling Observer recently reported, Sinclair Broadcasting,the wrestling organization’s parent company, isn’t willing to pump a bunch of money into the group’s coffers and has told COO Joe Koff to be more disciplined with the ROH checkbook. But maybe the company makes and exception and welcomes him back.
Joe would add name value to a Lucha Underground roster that features John Morrison, Alberto El Patron and Prince Puma.
Of course, fans will wonder if WWE is an option. Joe, though extremely talented in the ring, doesn’t have the look of the prototypical WWE superstar. WWE has always valued physical appearance above all else, even wrestling ability. And at 35 years old (36 in March), Joe is older than WWE brass likes its newcomers. This is the same company that’s running with a story that 37-year-old John Cena is an “old man.”
Like all new hires, Joe would be sent to NXT, which alone is an exciting prospect for indie wrestling fans. Think of a roster that includes Joe, Finn Balor, Adrian Neville, Kevin Owens, Hideo Itami, Kalisto, and Sami Zayn. That’s a dream roster, but Joe may view that as a demotion.
No matter where Joe ends up, he’ll likely end up somewhere that he’ll be a featured player. And that’s a good thing for Joe.