During an interview with Drew Garabo Live, Samoa Joe passed along the reminder that he was originally signed to a WWE contract that would have seen him stay in NXT forever.
“The initial deal on the table, it was a little bit of a low offer, but it was a foot in the door. No, financially, it was actually great, but as far as opportunity, it was a lowball offer,” Joe said.
“He did take care of me in that aspect, which is much appreciated. He told me from the get that, ‘we’re probably only going to be used in NXT. You’re in your 30s. Vince [McMahon] really isn’t interested in bringing those guys up right now.’ And that was the edict at the time, ‘If you’re over this certain age, we’re not interested in bringing you to Raw or Smackdown. We’re trying to build new talent.’
“But to me, I already had a pretty good career. It was just kind of an opportunity to stay going. It was a merch deal, which they do so much distribution I was with, and I said, ‘Yeah, sure.’ And within I believe a week-and-a-half, I was offered a main roster contract and continued to work in NXT with later moving onto Raw after we build the brand up.”
Joe also revealed that he helped John Cena land a job in WWE in 2000.
“Actually, John Cena’s match with me, the one that kind of got him hired with WWE, I remember they were there to look at John, obviously. He looked great, he was like the blue-chipper, and John was a good friend of mine, so I had no problem whatsoever helping him kind of highlight and do his thing,” Joe said.
“Hey man, he was a hard worker, man. He got it done, so after the match, I remember Jim Ross, head of Talent Relations at the time, I went up to him and I was like, ‘Is there any interest over here?’ ‘Ah, no, son. I don’t think you’re quite going to work out here.’
“Two years in, but it was cool because I was like, ‘Well if I can’t go there, I’m going to focus on all this other stuff. Where else can you make money? Oh, Japan!’ So I focused on Japan, I got a contract over there, and the rest is history.”