Nuufolau Joel Seanoa (born March 17, 1979) is an American professional wrestler, better known by his ring name, Samoa Joe. He is currently competing for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), where he is the current reigning TNA World Heavyweight Champion.
Before debuting in TNA in June 2005, Seanoa competed in the Ring of Honor (ROH) independent promotion, where he held the ROH World Championship for a record 21 months. Upon joining TNA, Seanoa embarked upon an eighteen month-long undefeated streak in which he never lost a match by pinfall or submission. That streak came to an end at the Genesis event in 2006, when he tapped out to Kurt Angle's ankle lock submission hold.
Throughout his career, Seanoa has won numerous championships, either on the independent circuit or on the national scene. During his time in ROH, not only did Seanoa win the ROH World Championship but he also won the ROH Pure Championship. His efforts in TNA not only have made him a TNA World Heavyweight Champion but also a three-time TNA X Division Champion and a one-time TNA World Tag Team Champion. He is also the 2005 Super X Cup Tournament winner, the 2008 King of the Mountain (The only one to retain the World Heavyweight Championship in the match), and a one-time TNA Triple Crown Champion.
In his debut match at the Yokohoma Red Brickhouse, Samoa Joe teamed with Yoshihiro Takayama to take on the team of Mitsuharu Misawa and Takeshi Morishima. Samoa Joe captured the win for his team after pinning Misawa with an Island Driver, one of his finishing maneuvers. Two days later, on October 27, Samoa Joe again faced Misawa, this time for the GHC title in a one-on-one match at the Budokan Hall. Both competitors had exchanged and overcame their respective signature moves throughout the match but it was Misawa who won the pinfall after striking the back of Joe's head with his elbow thus marking his sixth successful title defense. Samoa Joe continued to work for the promotion throughout 2002, participating in a number of their biggest shows and tournaments. After forming a team with Keiji Sakoda, they became the first-ever holders of the NWA Intercontinental Tag Team Championship, thought their reign is no longer officially recognized by the promotion. He worked as both Samoa Joe and, later, King Joe, but ultimately chose to leave the promotion when he was asked to take on a more gimmicky character. While in Japan, Samoa Joe trained extensively in Japan at the Fujiwara Gumi, under the guidance of submission wrestling master Yoshiaki Fujiwara.
Samoa Joe quickly rose through the ranks and became ROH Champion, defeating Xavier for the belt in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 22, 2003, which soon became the ROH World Championship on May 17, 2003 after defeating The Zebra Kid at "Frontiers of Honor" in London, England. He held that title for twenty one months before losing it to Austin Aries at "Final Battle 2004" on December 26, 2004. With his ROH title reign, Samoa Joe also established himself as the face of the company and a perennial main-eventer in North America. He elevated the title from a mid-card attraction, secondary to established independent stars like Low Ki, Daniels, and A.J. Styles, to the ultimate prize in Ring of Honor. During this time, he had a trilogy of title defenses against CM Punk (the second match earning "Five Stars" from Dave Meltzer's Wrestling Observer Newsletter, the first American match in seven years to do so). Soon after losing the ROH World Championship to Austin Aries, Samoa Joe became the promotion's fifth Pure Champion, defeating his on-screen protegé Jay Lethal for the belt on May 7, 2005 at "Manhattan Mayhem" in New York City. He held the title for over three months before losing it to Nigel McGuiness on August 27 at "Dragon Gate Invasion".
In October 2005, when Japanese heavyweight superstar Kenta Kobashi made a "once-in-a-lifetime" trip to the United States, he was signed to two Ring of Honor shows. ROH officials selected Samoa Joe, ROH's top wrestler, to face him in a singles match on the first night and a tag match on the second. The first show was in New York City at the New Yorker Hotel. Joe proved to be a formidable opponent for Kobashi, and, after a back and forth match, which Dave Meltzer again gave "Five Stars" and the scripted match went on to win the Wrestling Observer Newsletter award for "Match of the Year". In 2006, Samoa Joe was one of the principal wrestlers representing Ring of Honor in their war against rival Philadelphia promotion Combat Zone Wrestling. The war culminated in a five-on-five Cage of Death match at "Death before Dishonor IV". Samoa Joe helped ROH dominate in the match, until, after picking up CZW wrestler Chris Hero for one of his finishers, the Muscle Buster, he was attacked by fellow ROH wrestler Bryan Danielson. Danielson repeatedly hit his injured knee with a steel chair, forcing him to quit the match. Samoa Joe was later replaced in the match by Homicide, who went on to win the match for ROH. Samoa Joe later teamed with Homicide to fight against the Briscoes, and, like Homicide, found himself back in the ROH world title hunt. Samoa Joe, however, came up short against champion Bryan Danielson in several matches, including a match that went to a 60 Minute Draw and the final one being a cage match on December 8. At the December 9 show, Samoa Joe called out the Pro Wrestling NOAH promotion, claiming "Ring of Honor is right here!" This was not his first encounter with NOAH; at the September 16, 2006 ROH show, after a speech by wrestling legend Bruno Sammartino, Samoa Joe got into an argument and pull-apart brawl with NOAH star Takeshi Morishima. Subsequently a match was signed for February pitting Samoa Joe against Morishima which Joe won.
On January 31, Samoa Joe announced that he would no longer be a full time performer in ROH after March 4. All shows that led up to that date would be billed as the "Samoa Joe Farewell Tour". On March 4, he beat long time rival Homicide in his final ROH match with a Muscle Buster from the second rope.
At Genesis on November 13, he teamed with Daniels, Alex Shelley, and Roderick Strong (a team that Daniels called "The Ministry") against Sonjay Dutt, Chris Sabin, Matt Bentley, and Austin Aries in an eight man elimination match. Following the victory by Daniels and Samoa Joe (Shelley and Strong were eliminated earlier in the match), Samoa Joe viciously attacked Daniels, beating Daniels around the ringside area until he had busted him open. He then threw Daniels into the ring, and delivered a Muscle Buster. Joe then went out to grab a steel chair from ringside and brought it into the ring, after which he gave Daniels a second Muscle Buster, this time onto the chair, supposedly giving Daniels a level-3 concussion. In response to these actions, Styles called Joe out on an episode of Impact!, saying his attack of Daniels violated an unwritten code of respect in the X Division. Prior to Turning Point, Samoa Joe attacked Styles, saying he did not respect the X Division code (a vast departure from his Ring of Honor persona, who is a stalwart defender of their written Code of Honor). Samoa Joe defeated Styles at Turning Point and won the X Division Championship. Joe could injure Styles, however, Daniels came out and stopped him. Daniels was later slated to face Samoa Joe at Final Resolution in 2006 for the X Division Championship. During the build-up to the match, Samoa Joe stated that he intended to end Daniels' career. During the match, Styles came down to the ring to cheer for Daniels. Not long after making Daniels bleed from his head, Samoa Joe stopped going for the pin, instead dropping knee after knee on Daniels' head. Styles, concerned about Daniels' health, signaled for the match to be stopped by throwing in the towel, allowing Samoa Joe to retain the X Division title. Joe proceeded to win rematch of the three-way at Unbreakable, thus retaining his title.. This three-way feud continued until Destination X, when he lost the title to Daniels in an Ultimate X match, a match in which there is no pinfall or submission, thus keeping his undefeated streak.
Samoa Joe was then taken out of the X Division and matched with an initially unannounced opponent. On the March 25 edition of Impact!, it was announced that he would take on Sabu at Lockdown. Despite that, he still had a scheduled X Division title match, and, on April 13's Impact! (TNA's Thursday debut), Samoa Joe regained the X Division title after delivering an Island Driver from the middle turnbuckle to Christopher Daniels. Samoa Joe then successfully defended his X Division title against Sabu at Lockdown. At Sacrifice, Samoa Joe partnered with Sting in a tag team match against Jeff Jarrett and Scott Steiner. Samoa Joe and Sting were victorious, but after the match, Samoa Joe left the ring and allowed Sting to be attacked. Samoa Joe explained this by stating that he agreed to only watch Sting's back "from bell to bell" (implying that once the second bell rang, his duties were over), but still had issues with Steiner. Samoa Joe added Scott Steiner to his undefeated streak, at Slammiversary.
During the Impact! tapings on May 15, Samoa Joe was injured as he performed a kick, and it was reported that he tore every knee ligament except the anterior cruciate ligament. He suffered a first degree tear to the posterior cruciate ligament and a second degree tear to the medial collateral ligament. Samoa Joe would remain out of action for two weeks. After returning, Samoa Joe lost his X Division Championship in a triple threat match with Sonjay Dutt and Senshi. Senshi pinned Dutt to win the championship after Steiner laid out Samoa Joe with a steel chair. Samoa Joe would have his chance at revenge when he participated in a four-way number one contender match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship along with Sting, Christian Cage, and Scott Steiner at Victory Road on July 16. Samoa Joe lost this match when Sting pinned Steiner.
Samoa Joe beat Jeff Jarrett at No Surrender in a "Fan's Revenge Lumberjack match". After the match, he took Jarrett's NWA World Heavyweight Championship with him, telling Jim Cornette that if Jarrett or Sting (Jarrett's scheduled opponent at Bound For Glory) wanted the belt, they could take it from him. On the October 12 episode, Samoa Joe agreed to return the belt to the Jarrett-Sting winner under one condition—the winner had to agree to give him a title shot. This offer was turned down, and finally Samoa Joe was given the choice of giving back the title or be fired. Kurt Angle made his debut and got into a brawl with Samoa Joe after he again refused to give back the belt, and during the brawl, Jarrett took the belt back. At Bound for Glory on October 22, Samoa Joe defeated Raven, Brother Runt and Abyss in a Monster's Ball match. The match ended when special referee Jake Roberts DDT'd Raven, allowing Samoa Joe to deliver the Muscle Buster to Raven for the pinfall. Later in the night, Samoa Joe was involved in a pull-apart brawl with Kurt Angle after Jim Cornette announced that he would be fired if he interfered in the main event match that involved Angle as special enforcer. At Genesis, Joe lost to Angle after tapping out to Angle's ankle lock. This ended his eighteen month undefeated streak. Throughout the rest of 2006 into 2007, Samoa Joe continued to feud with Angle picking up a victory by submission in their rematch at Turning Point, before suffering a legitimate knee injury in a tag team match that pitted Rhino and Kurt Angle against Samoa Joe and A.J. Styles.
On the February 14 edition of Impact!, Samoa Joe won a gauntlet match to become the number one contender to Christian Cage's NWA World Heavyweight Championship at Destination X. Samoa Joe lost to Cage after Cage reversed the Coquina Clutch into a pinning combination and used the ropes for leverage. On the May 24 edition of Impact!, Samoa Joe qualified for the King of the Mountain match at Slammiversary by defeating Sting with a Samoan drop after Christopher Daniels hit Sting with a baseball bat; Samoa Joe lost the King of the Mountain match when Kurt Angle hung the belt. He then qualified to compete in the Match of Champions at Victory Road by defeating Jay Lethal and Chris Sabin for the X Division title on the July 12 episode of Impact!. At the Match of Champions, Samoa Joe scored the winning pinfall on Brother Ray after Kurt Angle hit the Angle Slam and won the TNA World Tag Team Championships from Team 3D, making him the first wrestler in TNA to hold multiple TNA championships. He later opted to hold both the titles by himself. At Hard Justice, Samoa Joe put up the X Division title and both Tag Team titles against Kurt Angle's TNA World title as well as the IWGP World Championship (Third Belt). Samoa Joe, however, lost all his titles thanks to interferences by Karen Angle, enabling Kurt to become the second TNA Triple Crown Champion. Samoa Joe became the first man to defeat Christian Cage by pinfall or submission in TNA, forcing him tap out to the Coquina Clutch at Bound for Glory, thus ending Cage's twenty-three month undefeated streak by pinfall or submission in TNA.
Samoa Joe was then announced as the teammate of Kevin Nash and Scott Hall in their match against The Angle Alliance at Turning Point. Hall, however, no-showed the event. Before the match, Samoa Joe was asked to cut a promo alleviating heat from the company and introducing Eric Young as Hall's replacement. Samoa Joe went five minutes overtime and ranted against Hall, Nash and some other superstars, which legitimately upset Nash and TNA President Dixie Carter at ringside. Before calling Young to come to the ring he told the TNA ringside staff, "Are you mad? Go ahead, fire me, I don't care." Samoa Joe, Nash and Young defeated the Angle Alliance when Samoa Joe pinned Tomko after a Muscle Buster. After the match, Samoa Joe and Nash briefly argued and shoved one another backstage, with Samoa Joe apologizing at a talent meeting the following day. On-screen, though, Samoa Joe continued to direct his frustration towards TNA management, going as far as to trash a Christmas party organized by Matt Morgan.
In storyline, after complaining to Jim Cornette that he did not have a match at Final Resolution, Cornette decided to team Samoa Joe with Kevin Nash, who was to receive a title shot with Scott Hall when he returned. At Final Resolution, Samoa Joe, along with his tag team partner Kevin Nash lost to the team of A.J. Styles and Tomko. This occurred after Nash refused to tag himself into the match leaving Samoa Joe to fend for himself. In addition, Nash "flipped off" Samoa Joe whilst leaving the ringside area. After Nash had screwed Joe at Final Resolution, Nash told Joe he was teaching him a lesson about the wrestling business and told Samoa Joe he could help him to the top if he followed his direction. On the January 24 edition of Impact!, Samoa Joe went on a rampage, attacking several TNA employees, culminating in his attacking of J.B. after being announced as the MVP of 2007.
For months, Samoa Joe was said to be unhappy with his spot in TNA and that he was considering not renewing his contract. TNA used that Internet rumor into a storyline, where Cornette tried to sign him into a new contract, but every week the signature was interrupted. At Against All Odds, Samoa Joe served as the special enforcer for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship match where Kurt Angle defended his title against challenger Christian Cage. During the contest, A.J. Styles interfered and Samoa Joe fought Styles to the back, but Tomko came out and attacked Cage giving Angle the win. On the February 14 edition of Impact, Samoa Joe formed an alliance with Cage and Kevin Nash, to compete with Kurt Angle's Angle Alliance. It was also announced that Samoa Joe would be given the next TNA World Heavyweight Championship opportunity against Angle. Over the next few weeks, Samoa Joe and his new found alliance would attack the Angle Alliance leading up to their match at Destination X. Samoa Joe vowed that he would eliminate the Angle Alliance so he would receive a fair title match with Kurt Angle at Lockdown. On the March 6 edition of Impact!, Samoa Joe, Christian, and Nash faced a member of the Angle Alliance to determine who would get a five minute advantage during their match at Destination X. Joe lost his First Blood match to Tomko, but Nash defeated Styles in a Street Fight while Cage defeated Angle in a Six Sides of Steel match. Samoa Joe's team won the match when he made Tomko tap out to the Coquina Clutch. Achieving his goal to eliminate the Angle Alliance, nothing now stood in the way of Samoa Joe getting a fair title shot at Lockdown.
At Lockdown, Samoa Joe defeated Angle to win his first TNA World Championship and become TNA's third Triple Crown Champion. The stipulation of the match was if Samoa Joe had lost, he would have had to retire from professional wrestling. He successfully defeated Angle in a rematch on Impact! and then retained against Scott Steiner and Kaz at Sacrifice. At Slammiversary, Samoa Joe became the first champion to ever retain his title in a King of the Mountain match. Samoa Joe was then challenged to a match by Booker T at Victory Road, which he accepted. At Victory Road the match went to a No Contest when Sting hit Samoa Joe with a baseball bat and Booker pinned him while Sharmell made the three count. At Hard Justice, Samoa Joe defeated Booker after a guitar shot, thus reclaiming physical possession of the title belt, which Booker had kept after Victory Road. On October 11, 2008, Samoa Joe surpassed Kurt Angle for the longest reign of the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.
1After being stripped of the title, Samoa Joe's reign was stricken from their records and the title returned to the man Samoa Joe defeated, Eddie Osbourne.
2After winning the championship, Samoa Joe held the title by himself.
Seanoa is close friends with fellow wrestlers CM Punk, Homicide, Christopher Daniels, A.J. Styles, Rob Van Dam and John Cena. Seanoa has also appeared on Szatkowski's internet based reality show "RVD TV" numerous times.
Seanoa avidly trains in both Judo and Jiu Jitsu at LA Boxing in Costa Mesa, California. He is often noted as a sparring partner for Team Punishment member Justin McCully and is often in attendance in the lockeroom for Team Punishment fighters such as Tito Ortiz and Kendall Grove, with whom he maintains friendships.
In an article in Pro Wrestling Illustrated, Samoa Joe claimed to share a distant ancestor with the Anoa'i family, but well before Reverend Amituanai Anoa'i, so he is not a member of the family.