On the January 30th, 2017 edition of Monday Night Raw in Laredo, Texas, Southern California native Samoa Joe made his WWE main roster debut in a segment where he attacked Seth Rollins during a confrontation with Triple H.
Joe began his professional wrestling career after training at the UIWA West Coast Dojo under SoCal Wrestling Hall of Fame inductee Cincinnati Red and Johnny Hemp, and was named the 2000 SoCal Wrestling Rookie Of The Year by SoCal-Wrestling.com. Joe would go on to perform for Ultimate Pro Wrestling where he would eventually become the longest reigning UPW Heavyweight Champion. While in UPW, Joe was booked against wrestlers such as William Regal, the Prototype (John Cena), Christopher Daniels, Tommy Dreamer, Konnan, Frankie Kazarian, Steve Corino, and more.
While in SoCal, Joe performed for various promotions such as Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, the Alternative Wrestling Show, EPIC Pro Wrestling, Revolution Pro, Millennium Pro Wrestling, UIWA, Championship Wrestling From Hollywood, and was part of the Inoki Dojo’s Toukon events, as well as their NJPW-USA brand shows. During his time in SoCal, Joe had notable matches against wrestlers such as Super Dragon, “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan), Rocky Romero, and more.
In June of 2001, Joe would work for Shinya Hashimoto’s Pro Wrestling Zero-One promotion in Japan. On October 5th, 2002, Joe made his Ring Of Honor debut, and would later become the ROH World Champion on March 22nd, 2003, holding the title for 645 days. In June of 2005, Joe would sign with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling before leaving the promotion on February 17th, 2015.
On May 20th, 2015, Joe made his WWE debut as part of the NXT brand at their TakeOver event in Orlando, FL when he had an in ring confrontation with former PWG regular Kevin Owens (Kevin Steen) after a match against Sami Zayn (El Generico). Joe would eventually feud for fellow Inoki Dojo alumni Finn Balor (Fergal Devitt) for the NXT Championship, which Joe would go on to hold twice. Joe was also part of NXT’s Southern California events in October of 2016, having matches with No Way Jose, Eric Young, and Shinsuke Nakamura.