Three things Samoa Joe must do to defeat Brock Lesnar
Nine times out of ten — and that’s a generous estimate — losing to Brock Lesnar is something of a foregone conclusion for anyone who steps into the ring with him. And not just losing, mind you: A defeat at the hands of The Beast Incarnate is tantamount to what Paul Heyman describes as being “beaten, victimized, and conquered,” a pretty bit of promoter prose that turns out to, once again, be something of an undersell once you see what Lesnar actually does to the guy he’s in there with.
For Samoa Joe, however, that all seems to be less of a certainty. In fact, there is a very real chance that The Samoan Submission Machine defeats Brock Lesnar at the first-ever WWE Great Balls of Fire pay-per-view — he’d be one of only four Superstars to do so in a one-on-one setting since Lesnar’s 2012 return — and becomes the new Universal Champion. Here’s how it could happen.
STEP 1: NO FEAR
Skill and drive take an elite athlete to the top, but there’s a more unique element that tends to keep them there: mystique. A lot of times, athletes will speak of how just knowing that they were competing with the best in their field was enough to throw them, mentally, off their game; the opponent capitalized accordingly.
Brock Lesnar has that mystique, but Samoa Joe does not feel it. He claimed to be unafraid of The Beast Incarnate since the minute he won his No. 1 contendership, and his actions backed it up, from striking first during their face-to-face on Raw to relentlessly targeting Paul Heyman, usually a decent way to rile Lesnar into a rage. Not allowing The Universal Champion to get in his head isn’t just a major step for Joe, it already gives him a better chance at victory than almost anyone else who has fought The Beast.
STEP 2: ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES
OK, but even if a Superstar can get himself to a place where he’s not scared of Brock Lesnar, chances are, once The Conqueror goes to work with his fists and his suplexes, an opponent’s body will quickly succumb to the damage his mind managed to resist. It’s happened to everyone from John Cena to Dean Ambrose to, eventually, Goldberg. It has yet to happen to Samoa Joe. He took a fair few hits during their initial brawl on Raw without backing down an inch, and when Joe trapped Lesnar in the Coquina Clutch in their most intense encounter yet (we’re getting to that, don’t worry), The Beast attempted to break the hold by bulldozing Joe back-first into the LED board. No dice. True, Joe got the jump on Brock by attacking him from behind, but taking two of The Conqueror’s best shots and still having the strength to nearly put him to sleep bodes ill for anyone in Lesnar’s camp who was expecting an obliteration.
STEP 3: COQUINA CLUTCH
And here it is. Samoa Joe’s nuclear option. The submission maneuver that has put advocates and Architects to sleep in equal measure and somehow even managed to bust up a knee. The Samoan Submission Machine’s signature hold has yet to be escaped and is rarely even submitted to, since just about everyone he wraps in it goes to sleep before they have the chance to tap out in earnest.
That Brock Lesnar didn’t go to sleep is probably attributable to the fact that he’s, you know, Brock Lesnar, but his face went purple and he had one foot out the door before Karl Anderson, The Revival and a bunch of refs pulled Joe off him. The idea of someone putting Lesnar to sleep is almost unthinkable; usually the opponent’s mind and body falters before they get the chance. But if Samoa Joe stays smart, stays strong and gets Brock where he wants him, can he really get it done? To borrow the phrase of another supposedly unbeatable guy who’s gone to sleep in the Coquina Clutch: He can, and he will.