WWE Superstar Samoa Joe has finally addressed those 10-year-old rumors that he was originally considered to play Umaga in WWE before WWE hired another Samoan wrestler and cousin of Roman Reigns, Eddie Fatu, for the job. What's that? You didn't know anyone still remembered that rumor? Well, Joe gave an interview to PopCulture.com, the spinoff website ComicBook.com created so they had a place to store all their articles about Ariel Winters's boobs, and that's the topic they chose to discuss.
It absolutely, positively, couldn't be any more false. We never talked, like… What people didn't get is, they couldn't talk to me legally. I think I still had two years on my contract, I wasn't going anywhere. So, it's funny, I think people thought you could just walk away from a deal at that time. You couldn't. We never talked, I was never even brought up to be Umaga.
He went on to call out the rumor for being racist, based purely on the Samoan heritage of both wrestlers.
I thought it was mad racist, cause it was like, I had just come on TNA and I was Samoa Joe, and it was like this prominently featured Samoan character, and then it was like, oh, well this is WWE's answer to Samoa Joe, right? No. You wouldn't do that if it was any other… Right? It was mad racist to me. Why would you come up with that comparative, because he's like… we weren't even the same character! We weren't even remotely anything like each other. But the fact that I was Samoan and he was Samoan, we were the same character. And I was like, what…what are you talking…? That's the comparison you draw?
Joe does make a good point, though we can't help but mention that if WWE didn't make a regular habit of giving Samoan wrestlers "island savage" characters for decades (including as recently as 2009 with Umaga), fans might not be as inclined to speculate that's what WWE wants to do with Samoan wrestlers.
Then again, WWE did just bring wrestlers of Iranian heritage to Saudi Arabia to play evil foreign heels and get beat up by noble Saudi Arabian wrestlers while simultaneously keeping Sami Zayn (of Syrian heritage), along with all female performers and Finn Balor's pride shirt, off that show, in order to play to that racist, sexist, and homophobic norms of that country. Plus, there's the whole Jinder Mahal thing, and the fact that the company is currently hoping to rehab the image of race-ranter Hulk Hogan. So we probably shouldn't expect much change to happen anytime soon.