December 4, 2005
REAL NAME: Joe Seannoa,
Hailing from Orange County, California, Joe Seannoa received training for the ring from Johnny Hemp, Cincinatti Red, and occasionally John Delayo, becoming the first-ever graduate of the now-defunct UIWA West Coast Dojo. In December 1999, three months after he began training, he found himself inside a wrestling ring, debuting against Uncle Jess Hansen. In addition to wrestling for UIWA (where he held the Tag team title twice), he also crossed paths with Cincinatti Red on the independent scene before heading to former WWE developmental territory, Ulitmate Pro Wrestling. On March 14, 2001, shortly after making an appearance against Essa Rios on WWE Jakked in March 2001, he defeated Christopher Daniels in Santa Ana, California and became the longest-reigning UPW champion in their history, with a victory over Tommy Dreamer to his credit. He would also become a two-time holder of UPW's No Holds Barred title.
In June 2001, Joe traveled across the Pacific to Japan and competed for the Zero-One promotion. Joe teamed with Keiji Sakoda, defeating Katsumi Usuda & Yuki Ishikawa to become the first-ever NWA International Tag Team Champions. Competing as both Samoa Joe and King Joe, Seannoa would remain with Zero-One throughout most of 2002, taking part in several Zero-One Fire Festivals, before heading back to the United States in October and beginning his run in Ring of Honor (ROH).
In his first major appearance in ROH, he was defeated by Low Ki at Glory by Honor I on October 5, 2002. He would later team with Christopher Daniels and Donovan Morgan as part of a team called the Prophecy.
After several battles against American Dragon, Joe won a number one contender's bout, defeating Homicide, EZ Money & BJ Whitmer on March 15th, 2003. A week later, he defeated Xavier in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to become Ring of Honor Champion.
Over the next several months, Joe retained the ROH title against C.M. Punk, Doug Williams, Homicide and Paul London. Meanwhile, he left the Prophecy and joined C.W. Anderson and Michael Shane as "The Group". In addition to six-man matches against the Prophecy, this move also led to title defences against Christopher Daniels, Morgan and Danny Maff. On June 14, 2003, the Group defeated the Prophecy in a "Loser Must Disband" match.
On November 28th, Joe teamed with TNA star A.J. Styles for a tag match against the Briscoe Brothers. Styles accidentally hit Joe, leading to their team's defeat. A day later, Joe retained the ROH title against Styles but it would not be the last time that Styles and Joe would cross paths.
Joe would also team with the American Dragon and Jerry Lynn to challenge the Briscoe Brothers in unsuccessful attempts to become ROH Tag Team Champions.
As it turned out, Joe had his own worries with regard to the Ring of Honor Championship. After a title defence against Homicide on April 23, 2004, the challenger threw a fireball in the champion's face. Undaunted, Joe returned the next night and retained his title against Matt Stryker. Joe would however, get his revenge on Homicide, with a successful title defence on May 22, 2004.
It was about this time that Samoa Joe stopped wrestling exclusively for Ring of Honor, taking dates for USA Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, IWA Mid-South and Jersey All Pro Wrestling. On September 18, 2004, Joe reached the finals of the IWA Mid-South Ted Petty Invitational tournament, losing to A.J. Styles. He fared better a month later when he defeated B-Boy to win the Revolution Strong Style tournament.
No matter how many times he competed on independent shows, Samoa Joe returned to defend his ROH title, against Homicide, Doug Williams, C.M. Punk and Rocky Romero. Finally, on Decemember 26, 2005, Austin Aries unseated Samoa Joe, ending his 21-month reign as Ring of Honor Champion.
After one Ring of Honor match (against Nigel McGuiness), Joe got into a heated confrontation with Mick Foley who blasted Joe with a steel chair. Foley returned to Ring of Honor to send Vordell Walker and, later, Ebassan, against Samoa Joe, but neither man could defeat Joe. Instead, Joe would go on to win the ROH Pure title, defeating Jay Lethal on May 7, 2005. (While they may have clashed in the ring, Foley pushed for the WWE to sign Joe.)
While still retaining the Pure Championship, Samoa Joe signed with NWA-TNA on June 14, 2005 and made his TNA debut with a victory over Sonjay Dutt at Slammiversary. After a short feud with Chris Sabin, Samoa Joe began to work his way through the Super X tournament, defeating Sonjay Dutt and Alex Shelley before he defeated A.J. Styles at Sacrifice to win the tournament.
Samoa Joe's reign as ROH Pure Champion would end on August 27, 2005 at the hands of Nigel McGuiness, but it would not mark the last time that Joe competed for Ring of Honor, in addition to his work with TNA. In his attempt to wrest the X Division Championship away from A.J. Styles, Samoa Joe found himself clashing with Christopher Daniels, even as the pair teamed together.
Finally, during the Elimination X match at Genesis, Joe attacked Daniels after the Fallen Angel won the match for their team. Daniels was hospitalized after the attack, which turned Joe heel in TNA. With Daniels on the shelf, Samoa Joe turned his attention towards Styles and, at Turning Point, won the X-Division Championship.
Daniels' return to action prompted a showdown between the two at Final Resolution, a match which saw Joe retain the championship when Style threw in the towel on behalf of the Fallen Angel. As Styles and Daniels argued over the X-Division code, Joe maintained his hold on the X Division Championship, even after the two men challenged him in a Triple Threat match at Against All Odds.
Samoa Joe retained the X-Division Championship at Against All Odds but Daniels promised that the war between the two men wasn't over. Daniels fulfilled his pledge at Destination X as he defeated Joe and A.J. Styles in an Ultimate X match to win the title.
His reign, however, would be short-lived as Joe regained the championship a month later on Impact.
(Soon after, Joe would be a part of ROH’s feud with rival Team Combat Zone Wrestling. Joe would wrestle his final ROH match nearly a year later.)
After Senshi (a.k.a. Low Ki) defeated Joe and Sonjay Dutt in a three-way match for the title, Joe turned his attention first to Jeff Jarrett, and then the newly arrived Kurt Angle. He and Angle would have epic confrontations and split their first two pay-per-view singles matches before Angle took the third at Final Resolution.
Having won the X-Division title for a third time, (after beating “Black Machismo” Jay Lethal and Chris Sabin on Impact), Joe would again engage Angle, this time in a winner-takes-all match. Angle would retain his TNA Heavyweight title and capture Joe’s X-Division and Tag Team belts at Hard Justice.
Soon thereafter, Joe would begin a feud with Christian Cage and his Christian Coalition. Although losing by disqualification to Cage at No Surrender, Joe would avenge his loss at Bound For Glory.