Samoa Joe is a tricky situation, because it’s not as if he hasn’t been pushed in a big program on the WWE main roster. Joe, in his debut year, beat out Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Finn Balor, and Bray Wyatt to set up a singles match with Brock Lesnar for the Universal Title, putting on a good showing despite a losing effort.
He was then part of an excellent fatal Four-Way match for the title at SummerSlam involving Lesnar, Reigns, and Braun Strowman, with the match almost getting five stars from Dave Meltzer. Following his pursuit of gold on Raw, he was drafted to SmackDown and eventually feuded with AJ Styles for the WWE title, beating Styles by DQ at SummerSlam, before losing at HIAC, Super Show-Down, and Crown Jewel.
He went on to defeat R-Truth for his US title before losing to Rey Mysterio at Money In The Bank, ending a solid run as champion, and then regaining the belt when Mysterio surrendered the title due to injury. Joe would drop the belt to Ricochet and challenge Kofi Kingston for the WWE title unsuccessfully, he then went on to compete in the King Of The Ring tournament losing in the semi-final.
Joe has since faced injuries that have left him only appearing as a colour commentator for Raw, and with no certainty over his in-ring future. He recently said in October that he is not done as an in-ring worker, but is enjoying his time as a commentator and working on voice-acting projects outside of wrestling. Despite this, you can’t help but feel Joe has been held down despite his strong presence on WWE TV, having been an upper mid-carder unable to capture world gold thus far.
WWE should look to return Joe to the ring soon, maybe as a dark horse Rumble winner, where he could easily go on to face either of the world champions, whether that be Roman Reigns or Drew McIntyre, or anyone else for that matter. Joe has to receive a massive push soon before his ability declines, he has a presence most superstars lack and has a sense of legitimacy, something WWE lacks in the absence of names like Brock Lesnar, and WWE should make use of this whilst they can.