Former NXT and WWE United States Champion Samoa Joe has been out of action since September with a thumb injury. But if you're concerned that his recent role as a commentator on Monday Night Raw is his new lot in life, worry not. WWE taped the Dec. 23 episode of Raw in Des Moines, Iowa after this week's episode aired, and the show ended with Joe standing up against Seth Rollins and The AOP while the trio was attacking Rey Mysterio. The three reportedly got the best of Joe, but Wrestling Observer's Dave Meltzer then reported that the attack on Joe was a sign that he'll be inserted into a program with Rollins as a babyface upon his return.
"...Joe does the babyface turn and he's gonna be in there in that main event feud," Meltzer said on Monday night's Wrestling Observer Radio.
#RAW 12/23 Scoop #21 Match ends in DQ after AOP interfere. AOP go to put Rey thru announce table but Samoa Joe doesn’t move. AOP beat up Joe and put him thru announce table. Seth Curb Stomps Rey. That’s Raw. pic.twitter.com/NVEprV7VFu— 🍕TonyPizzaGuy 🎮 (@TonyPizzaGuy) December 17, 2019
Though his charisma as a heel is seemingly unmatched, a babyface run could be exactly what Joe needs. He originally jumped from NXT to Raw in 2017 as a dominant heel, but his major pay-per-view losses to Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns and AJ Styles did serious damage to his credibility. He eventually moved his way down to the midcard on SmackDown and briefly held the US title twice, then tried and failed once again to win a world championship by feuding with Kofi Kingston earlier this year.
Prior to Joe's WWE run, the "Samoan Submission Machine" was one of the most impressive powerhouses on the independent wrestling scene. He became Impact Wrestling's third grand slam champion by winning each of the brand's titles by 2012 and still holds the record for longest Ring of Honor World Championship reign at 645 days.
During a recent episode of Raw Joe was photographed alongside Raw's play-by-play commentator Vic Joseph, which caused Corey Graves to comment on Twitter by saying the pair were the "new and improved" versions of Michael Cole and Taz. The former ECW Champion took issue with that.
Gee whiz, new & "IMPROVED"? I wish them the best but luck! But, if they are a duo after YEARS of shows than its a fair comparison. @MichaelCole & I BATTLED for every opportunity as a team. #DuesPaid https://t.co/t3A2f6zLzN— TAZ (@OfficialTAZ) December 15, 2019