Samoa Joe: Top 5 AEW Wrestling Matches

Born March 17th, 1979 in Orange County, California, Nuufolau Joel Seanoa began training in Professional Wrestling at the UIWA West Coast Dojo in 1999 and made his independent debut in December that same year.

Before his passion for wrestling took over his destiny, Joe was an accomplished Judoka, winning the California State Junior Championship while he was still at school.

In addition to being a dedicated martial artist, Joe has avidly trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai, and has incorporated his martial arts background into his deadly arsenal.

At the turn of the new millennium, Joe signed up to the WWF (now known as the WWE) developmental programme, Ultimate Pro Wrestling. During his time with the programme, he feuded with future WWE Superstar and Champion, John Cena, made an appearance on WWF JAKKED and captured the UPW Heavyweight Championship.

Joe became the longest reigning UPW Champion, yet was never called up to the main roster and was told by Bruce Prichard and Jim Ross that he had no future in Pro Wrestling.

Aiming to prove the doubters wrong, Joe’s burning passion for the sport raged on as he made his debut in Japan in 2001, wrestling for Shinya Hashimoto’s promotion, Pro Wrestling Zero-One, where he adopted the ring name, Samoa Joe.

In 2002, Samoa Joe returned to America debuting for indie promotion, Ring of Honor, at the Glory by Honor event. Entering as Christopher Daniel’s “Hired Assassin”, Joe took on Low Ki in a fierce affair, impressing audiences with his unique mix of martial arts and calculated ruthlessness.

From that moment on, Joe was signed onto a full-time contract with the company.

In less than a year, Joe quickly rose through the ranks, eventually winning the ROH World Heavyweight Championship at Night Of The Champions on March 22nd, 2003 against Xavier.

During his pitiless reign of terror, Joe left a trail of broken bodies and fallen challengers in his wake. It became common for fans to chant “Joe’s gonna kill you!” whenever he stepped into the ring.

In the midst of his conquest, his most famous bouts included his trilogy with future WWE and AEW Champion, CM Punk. Their trilogy not only brought a great deal of legitimacy to the indie promotion, but was well-received by fans, with their second outing at ROH: Joe vs. Punk II receiving a perfect five-star rating from Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

After a whopping 645 consecutive days, Joe became the longest reigning champion in ROH history. Even after losing the belt to Austin Aries in December 26th 2004, Joe remained a major player in the company, winning the ROH Pure title on May 7th 2005, before signing up for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (now IMPACT Wrestling) in June that same year when he was dubbed, “The Samoan Submission Machine”.

In his first year in TNA, The Samoan Submission Machine dominated the X-Division and earned his second, 5-star rating with his triple-threat match against AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels at Unbreakable 2005.

Around this time, Joe continued to wrestle for ROH where in October of that same year, he went head-to-head with legendary Japanese wrestler, Kenta Kobashi, in another indescribable classic.

He earned another 5-star rating and was awarded the 2005 Match of the Year award in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

To close the chapter on his ROH journey, Samoa Joe embarked on a farewell tour in early 2007, wrestling his final match on March 4th of that same year.

When Kurt Angle made his first TNA appearance on October 19th 2006, the Olympic gold medallist immediately came to blows with the Samoan Submission Machine. Their feud propelled TNA into a worthy alternative to the WWE at the time, and it was their MMA-styled steel cage match at Lockdown 2008 where Joe finally claimed the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.

After nearly ten years, Joe bid TNA farewell and finally debuted on WWE’s NXT programming where he fought with Shinsuke Nakamura and won the NXT championship twice.

Samoa Joe made his official Raw debut in January 2017 and clashed with Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, AJ Styles and Kofi Kingston. Although he was never able to claim a world title, Joe did become a two-time United States Champion and served as a colour commentator while he was recovering from injury.

Two months after failing the WWE’s wellness policy, Joe was released from the company on April 15th, 2021. Although he was reinstated to NXT in June of that same year where he claimed his third NXT title, he didn’t hold onto the belt for long as he later relinquished it after being struck with COVID. After his recovery, Joe was eventually released for the second and final time on January 6th, 2022.

But that wasn’t the end of his story. Under new ownership of AEW president, Tony Khan, Joe made his triumphant return to ROH on April 1st, 2022 and his first AEW appearance on April 6th that same year. In his first year for AEW, the Samoan Submission Machine gained his first ROH World Television Championship and twice earned the AEW TNT Championship.

In his 3-decade professional career, Samoa Joe has achieved a great deal of success in every major promotion of his generation, and whatever’s left to conquer, The Samoan Submission Machine walks alone as the most dominant powerhouse of the 21st century.

With all that said let’s power on through the Top 5 Samoa Joe Matches of AEW (in descending order)!

5. Vs. Kyle O’Reilly – Dynamite 138 (May 25, 2022)

Competing in the Owen Hart Foundation Tournament, The Samoan Submission Machine faced former ROH World Champion, Kyle O’Reilly, in the semi-finals. The winner would meet Adam Cole at Double or Nothing on May 29th.

This was a highly competitive match with O’Reilly’s martial arts giving him the edge against Joe’s mad ferocity. O’Reilly showed great resilience, yet hit several roadblocks in the form of Joe’s overwhelming power. Despite this, O’Reilly’s ingenuity served to even the odds, countering Joe’s signature moves and transitioning into an armbar.

Both warriors held nothing back, exchanging punches, kicks and knees in a back-and-fourth extravaganza that demonstrated the determination both men had required to be able to advance to the finals.

Although O’Reilly made a valiant effort, it would be Joe who would gain the victory, with a rear naked choke in the centre of the ring, to earn a place at the Owen Hart Foundation Tournament Finals.

4. Vs. Wardlow – Dynamite 169 – New Year’s Smash (Dec. 28, 2022)

A month after winning the AEW TNT Championship in a three-way match at the Full Gear PPV, Joe was called out by former champion, Wardlow for a chance to regain his belt. A one-on-one match was scheduled at New Year’s Smash.

To prove how serious he was at regaining his TNT title, Wardlow held nothing back.

With high risk manoeuvres, a monstrous lariat, and a thunderous Powerbomb, the former champion made his intentions abundantly clear. But Joe’s cunning overwhelmed the challenger, and after damaging Wardlow’s knee, the champion was able to secure the rear naked choke in the centre of the ring, claim the victory, and successfully defend his TNT belt.

And just to add insult to injury, the Samoan Submission Machine knocked out Wardlow with the belt and cut off his ponytail as a trophy.

3. Vs. CM Punk – Collision 4 (Jul. 8, 2023)

It has been 18 years since Joe and Punk met each other in the ring. Back in their Ring of Honor days, both men had the best matches in the indie company’s history and at the semi-finals of the Owen Hart Foundation Tournament, the two legends stared at each other in the centre of the ring as if old friends… or enemies finally resuming their old conflict.

Punk pulled out all the stops to put the monster down, including knee strikes, sharp kicks and daring moves from the top, but the Samoan Submission Machine simply shrugged off Punk’s offence.

Joe remained dominant throughout the match, stopping Punk dead in his tracks with a variety of submission holds and powerslams.

Despite the significant difference in strength, Punk’s quick thinking helped him to gain the surprise victory after reversing Joe’s choke hold with a roll-up.

To the shock of everyone, Punk not only succeeded in advancing to the tournament finals, but earned his first ever victory over his long-time rival.

2. Vs. Minoru Suzuki – Dynamite 132 (Apr. 13, 2022)

In his second match for AEW, Joe went head-to-head with fellow brawler, Minoru Suzuki, for the ROH World Television Championship on an episode of Dynamite.

With two of the most prolific submission specialists going at it, this made for one hell of a matchup for all wrestling fans.

After a brief stare down, the two warriors engaged in an intense back and forth display of backhand chops. With no man backing down, Joe introduced stiff elbows into the fray.

Once the ice had broken, the direction shifted into an array of arm bars, crossfaces and neck cranks before returning to a chop fest that the fans simply couldn’t get enough of.

The Television Champion tried to conquer the beast with his catch wrestling prowess, but was ultimately overpowered and the challenger executed his ‘Muscle Buster’ finisher to secure the pinfall victory.

The Samoan Submission Machine succeeded in claiming his first Ring of Honor Championship in seventeen years.

1. Vs. Darby Allin – Dynamite 174 (Feb. 1, 2023)

After losing the AEW TNT title to Darby Allin, Joe sought to reclaim the belt the following month on Dynamite, this time in a No Holds Barred match.

Darby was no stranger to going hardcore, and fighting Joe was no different as he entered the ring, wearing a jacket covered in thumb tacks, and without hesitation rammed himself into Joe to start the match.

With Joe’s killer instinct and Allin’s tenacity, their clash made for one heck of a brawl that was guaranteed to spill blood.

They used everything they could muster to cause damage: chairs, tables, steel stairs and white powder. They even tore the ring apart. Nothing was spared from their rampage.

Both men were willing to rip each other to pieces just for the belt, but something had to give as Joe executed a brutal ‘Muscle Buster’ from the top ropes to the exposed canvas.

The Samoan Submission Machine survived the war and became a two-time world champion in the process.

So, there you have it folks, 5 of Samoa Joe’s best AEW Matches!

All of you who follow wrestling know how hardcore Joe really is! Which of Samoa Joe’s matches from the list above did you like most? Let us know in the comments below; Like, share and join in the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter & Instagram!

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James Stampone

James’ passion for martial arts combat originated from his love of action cinema, inspiring him to practise the arts from a young age. He is trained in Muay Thai, Boxing, Wing Chun, Kali and Jiu-Jitsu. Through these practises he has not only reaped the benefits of learning technical skills, but also studied real-world survival techniques, with each discipline enriching his mental stamina and wellbeing. James is a movie buff and an MMA fan, engaging with the tactical skills and strategies of every fight.

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