Samoa Joe is probably not a guy you mess with. So when he tells you that he was never meant to play the Umaga character, it would be wise to believe him. Otherwise, you might be looking at a Coquina Clutch or a Muscle Buster intended to do some serious damage and get you stop being so blindly racist.
Around 2005, speculation was that Joe was pegged to play the role of Umaga — who was actually played by the late Eddie Fatu (brother to Rikishi). Umaga was a Samoan character that had quite the run in WWE before being put on the shelf and put away forever with Fatu's untimely death. "It absolutely, positively, couldn't be any more false. We never talked, I was never even brought up to be Umaga," said Joe who was already working for another wrestling promotion.
Joe suggests that he never spoke with WWE, he wasn't walking away from his deal with TNA and because he thinks people made the crazy connection because he's Samoan, he's actually offended. "I thought it was mad racist, cause it was like, I had just come on TNA and I was Samoa Joe, and it was like this prominently featured Samoan character, and then it was like, oh, well this is WWE's answer to Samoa Joe, right? No. You wouldn't do that if it was any other... Right? It was mad racist to me," said Joe.
In a way, Joe has a point.
Would we connect every Latino character to Eddie Guerrero or Alberto Del Rio? Would we suggest that every French-speaking talent that walks through the door of WWE is supposed to play a character like Dino Bravo or the Rougeaus? What about the Indian culture and Jinder Mahal? It would be racist to assume each and every talent with the same heritage would be pegged to play the same type of character but Joe believes that's what happened with him and the rumors he was to play Umaga.
He asks, "Why would you come up with that comparative because he's like... we weren't even the same character! We weren't even remotely anything like each other. But the fact that I was Samoan and he was Samoan, we were the same character. And I was like, what...what are you talking...? That's the comparison you draw?"
Instead, Joe has carved a path of his own. While it took him some time to make it to WWE, he was one of the most popular independent wrestlers in the world and is now a main-event player on SmackDown Live. On Sunday, he'll be taking on one of the biggest names in WWE in Roman Reigns.
Had Joe been hired to play the character of Umaga, he likely would have done a great job but he wasn't. He's Samoa Joe and he's the Samoan Submission Machine. It's a name that fits him to a tee and has a much more prominent future than the Umaga character ever would have.