March 15, 2007
ROH says "Thank You, Joe!"Ring of Honor says goodbye to its legendary ex-champ
By JASON CLEVETT - SLAM! Wrestling
On March 4th in Liverpool, England, the Ring of Honor career of Samoa Joe came to an end. Joe's ROH career began on October 5, 2002 and in the four and a half years since he became legendary.
From his lengthy ROH title run from March 22, 2003 to December 26, 2004 to his classic matches against Bryan Danielson, CM Punk, Homicide, AJ Styles and many, many more, Joe's ROH tenure will always represent great wrestling. However, instead of putting together a career reflection on one of Ring of Honor's franchise players, SLAM! Wrestling spoke to those who have been up and down the road with Joe. Considered a mentor by some and a friend by all, wrestlers and office staff recently took the time to say a few words.
Samoa Joe has been a critical and important part to the growth of ROH. For many years, Joe's been our cornerstone. It's sad and upsetting to see Joe move on, but it only opens another door for many hungry pro wrestlers out there. I personally look at this as a person challenge to myself to step up my game and become a better performer and competitor inside the ROH rings.
Bobby Cruise (ROH Ring Announcer)
"For me, there is only one word to describe Samoa Joe and his tenure in ROH: Classic.
"Samoa Joe is one of the best wrestlers I have ever seen and it has been a treat to have been able to be just a few feet away for some of his biggest and best matches. I stopped being amazed long ago at the things Joe can do. For a man of his size he has tremendous agility and maneuverability. One of Joe's best traits is his ability to connect to the fans. Samoa Joe has that 'it' that people refer to and his relationship with the ROH fans is something that will be missed.
"As much as I will miss seeing Joe in the ring, I will also miss seeing him outside of it. Joe is always great to have around the locker room, always smiling and having a good time, while at the same time remaining the consummate pro. Joe is a born leader and he was just that to the ROH roster. A leader in the ring and a leader out of it."
"Samoa Joe is what defines ROH and its wrestlers. Hard working, dedicated and tough... Joe gave his all every single show and I don't have to like the guy but I sure as hell respect him for that."
Cary Silkin(ROH Owner)
"I'm not going to say how we're okay with him leaving... because we're not. It's a big blow. Hey, business is business. We've had some of the greatest matches in the history of this sport with him, matches that may never be duplicated anywhere, ever. Joe has always been a gentleman to work with. The fans love him, the other wrestlers respect and learn from him. He works his heart out and it shows. He deserves everything he gets in this industry. He'll never be replaced. And I know there's a part of him that will always cling to ROH no matter how big he gets. It's here where he became what he is today. It's because of his experiences in this very ring that he has that magic. I wish him luck. I consider him a friend. As a fan of this sport, first and foremost, I can personally attest to the fact that some of my greatest Ring Of Honor moments at ringside were when Joe was in the ring. He ratchets up the excitement a few notches every time he steps through those ropes. You can feel it. He was a star long before even he knew it."
Gabe Sapolsky (ROH Booker)
"Simply put, Samoa Joe is the Babe Ruth of ROH. He has carried this company through the tough times. I think you can say without a doubt that ROH wouldn't be where it is today without Samoa Joe. He really exemplified the realistic, hard-hitting style that we like to promote in ROH. He makes pro wrestling into a sport."
"Joe has become a superstar in this business through two things: his hard work and talent, and the showcase he had for them in ROH. I know he appreciates the ROH fans' help in making him a star, and I hope they continue to support him in TNA."
"Joe is someone I look up to very much in this business but he is also a good friend of mine and I am going to miss the good times on the road. Samoa Joe is professional wrestling and, also -- I know this from personal experience -- the arm wrestling champion of the world."
We would be remiss if we paid tribute to Joe without talking to Joe himself. Amidst preparing for the emotional roller coaster of his farewell tour, Joe did take a moment to comment for this article about leaving the promotion in which he made his name.
"I leave Ring Of Honor with a heavy heart. These are the fans who made my career, the fans who have stuck by me, through the early years. I applaud the effort that ROH has made in its climb to respectability. Although I look forward to the coming year with great anticipation, there will always be a part of me that is loyal deep in my soul to Ring Of Honor. And I vow again, just like I vowed on the website, that each and every match I'm in, heading down to the final days in Dayton, Chicago and England, will be among my greatest in-ring performances for Ring Of Honor."
It was a promise Joe kept, as his emotional farewell matches will leave a buzz on the promotion that will continue on.
Jason Clevett has been called by some as a Samoa Joe mark. So be it. Email Jason at email@example.com.