Recent weeks on WWE television had seen Samoa Joe seemingly close to making his first babyface turn since joining the main roster in 2017. For a moment on this week’s Monday Night Raw, it seemed as if he had fully turned, given the manner in which he confronted the villainous Sami Zayn backstage. But when Joe cut a scathing promo on the fans after easily defeating Zayn in the ring, he had made it clear to everyone in attendance at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto that he was still a bad guy. The promo, after all, saw him angrily blame the fans for falsely accusing him of being Roman Reigns’ mystery attacker.
On the most recent edition of Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer explained the reason why WWE apparently canceled or postponed Joe’s face turn after weeks of teasing the move. As quoted by WrestlingNews.co, Meltzer said that the company initially wanted to prevent Zayn, who is Canadian, from getting a positive reaction from the audience.
“That was the last thing that they wanted. With this gimmick, they did not want Sami Zayn getting this incredible pop. One of the things is they had Samoa Joe call Sami a water boy and all that. They knew that people would go crazy for a Samoa Joe turn and that would enable…basically they’re not gonna boo Samoa Joe when they first turn him because everybody wants him to turn but they don’t want him to turn yet.”
Despite how Samoa Joe teased a babyface turn but went right back to being a heel, Meltzer hinted that the door hasn’t exactly been shut on the in-ring veteran’s first run as a good guy on WWE’s main roster. The longtime wrestling journalist explained that WWE may still turn Joe at some point in the future, but stressed once again that this week was just not the right time for this creative decision.
As pointed out by WrestlingNews.co, it’s possible that WWE could have avoided the confusion regarding Joe’s character by simply having an established babyface confront Sami Zayn backstage and defeat him later on in the ring. However, Meltzer clarified that WWE might have still been worried about Zayn getting a big pop from the Toronto audience, even if another babyface had been involved.
For the above scenario, Meltzer mentioned Braun Strowman as someone who would have made more sense than Joe as Zayn’s opponent. However, he stressed that WWE needed him more for the closing segment of this week’s Monday Night Raw. Per Comic Book, this segment was highlighted by Strowman hitting the ring to save Universal Champion Seth Rollins from a three-on-one attack at the hands of The OC (AJ Styles, Karl Anderson, and Luke Gallows).