Samoa Joe did not need to vacate the Ring of Honor TV Championship


Samoa Joe is the defining Ring of Honor Television Champion, but his run did not need to come to an end in that way on AEW Dynamite.

Five-hundred and seventy-four days. Samoa Joe held the Ring of Honor Championship for nearly two years. On the November 8 episode of AEW Dynamite, Joe walked away from that championship reign and completely vacated the championship. That was a perplexing move that has implications beyond just Joe, and many are rightfully rolling their eyes with how that played out.

Joe is enjoying a career-defining run. At 44-years of age, he’s at a point in his career where he’s doing excellent work that’s different from the excellent work that established him early in his run. That is what has made his time as ROH champion especially enjoyable. Seeing it come to an end this way turned a lot of fans off immediately and it is understandable why that was the response.

First, why wouldn’t Joe want to be a double-champion? He’s been a double-champion in the past, holding both the ROH TV and AEW TNT title. Why was it OK then and not OK now? He wasn’t distracted in being a “two-belt Joe,” so why would that be a challenge now? Taking that to another level, MJF himself is holding two titles, so if he could do it, wouldn’t Joe want to show the world that he’s just as good of a champion that can do the same? There’s no reason why Joe needed to drop this championship in this way.

Second, why couldn’t Keith Lee have picked up the belt on Dynamite? Or what about Shane Taylor? Or Dalton Castle? Or Rhett Titus? There are so many options of men who could hold the TV title and be valuable champions. Defeating Joe would be a big boost to anyone’s career – if AEW/ROH took the time to continue booking with intention. The same should have occurred with Kris Statlander defeating Jade Cargill, but that continued build is lacking today. Joe could have suffered a tough defeat and then booked to take that eventual rage out of MJF. That would have made sense.

Third, there’s an impact down the line when the next individual holds the championship. As mentioned, a win over Joe would add value to that person’s reign. Now, picking up the belt through a tournament, battle royal or something else doesn’t have that same value – immediately lessening their run. Yes, ROH is the “lesser” brand of the two, but that’s not the best light to put the group in with a decision such as this.

Samoa Joe may one day be AEW World Champion. Did he have to drop the ROH Television Title to get there? No. Will that hurt the total story? Probably not. But this is yet another unforced error within AEW and ROH booking.

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