Samoa Joe Syndrome: a syndrome wherein the afflicted professional wrestler becomes the world heavyweight champion of his or her respective promotion and is then immediately depushed to a status lower than that which is befitting of said championship.
At Lockdown 2008, Samoa Joe captured the TNA world heavyweight championship. It was the culmination of a several year journey for Joe and a title win that many fans felt was long overdue. In a perfect world, this would have been what cemented Joe's spot at the top of the card and what lead to him being promoted as the man to beat, the top dog in the company, the face of TNA. After all, what else should the world champion be, but the face of the company?
Unfortunately for Joe, that's not what happened. Because soon after his title win he became Patient Zero -- the first victim of a strange phenomena I have since dubbed 'Samoa Joe Syndrome'. Joe captured to top prize in the TNA and then, for reasons that are still a mystery to me, was depushed almost immediately. He was the world champion, and yet was not being promoted or booked as the top star in the company as a world champion should be. Instead, I recall a number of subsequent iMPACT episodes in which Joe barely appeared on the show at all.
During this period, easily the top program on the show in terms of the amount of screen time allotted to it, was a feud between Kurt Angle & AJ Styles. But the strange thing was that the main focus of the feud was never on either Kurt, AJ OR their personal rivalry. It was never about the Olympic gold medalist who staked his claim to being the best in the world in WWE vs. the man that made his name in the smaller company, who lacked Kurt's notoriety, but believed that it was HE who was the very best. It was never about 2 world class athletes trying to one up each other, trying to find out who the best wrestler in the world truly is. It was about Karen Angle (now Karen Jarrett). Kurt Angle believed his wife was having an affair with AJ Styles, and thus their rivalry was born.
And here's the really sick part. For the majority of this storyline both men were more focused on Karen than they were on each other. It reached a point where, on many occasions, Karen was receiving more screen time than either of them, and certainly far more than Samoa Joe... you know, the world heavyweight champion? By the end, Kurt Angle vs. AJ Styles had devolved into an intolerable, melodramatic, soap operaish love triangle.
"Kurt is too focused on his career to deal with his and Karen's marital problems, but AJ makes Karen feel special! But Kurt is the father of Karen's kids, they have a family together and Karen doesn't know what to do! Poor Karen! No one has suffered like Karen has suffered! Boo hoo, boo hoo!"
And while all this was going on, there was an important question that kept dogging me over and over again: WHY IN GOD'S NAME IS KAREN ANGLE STILL ON MY TELEVISION?! WHY ARE KURT ANGLE & AJ STYLES MORE FOCUSED ON KAREN THAN ON BEATING THE LIFE OUT OF EACH OTHER?! WHY IS THIS CHICK GETTING MORE SCREEN TIME THAN THE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION?! WHY IS SHE GETTING PUSHED HARDER THAN THE ENTIRE X-DIVISION AND KNOCKOUT DIVISION PUT TOGETHER?! WHAT THE HELL IS SO DAMN SPECIAL ABOUT KAREN ANGLE?!
Okay... 5 important questions.
Karen's on-screen character in TNA is what's known in literary terms, as a 'Mary Sue'.
Mary Sue: an overly-idealized fictional character, lacking any significant flaws, and whose primary purpose is to serve as a wish-fulfillment fantasy for the author or reader. Features commonly found in Mary Sues are: being too ostentatious for the audience's taste, or the author favoring the character too highly, thus causing negative reader/viewer backlash against said character. The author may attempt to push how exceptional and wonderful the character is, often causing the audience to dislike or resent the character instead. Notable Mary Sues in modern pop culture include the Bella Swan character from the Twilight books/movies and the Lana Lang character from the Smallville TV series.
To this day, I blame Karen and the writers' inexplicable fascination with her for not only taking what should have been one of the greatest feuds in TNA history and turning it into a farce that should have played out on Days of Our Lives, but also for completely undermining the world title reign of Samoa Joe.
And guess what? Now it's happening again.
A few weeks ago at Genesis, Ken Anderson defeated Jeff Hardy in a title match. Ken Anderson is now the TNA world heavyweight champion. Unfortunately, you wouldn't know it from watching iMPACT last week because Anderson has now become the latest victim of Samoa Joe Syndrome. And what was the cause of it? Take a wild guess...
One episode of iMPACT was all it took. As I pointed out in The Issues With iMPACT Ep. #14, by 10:00 pm, the halfway point in the show, Ken Anderson, the TNA world heavyweight champion of only 2 weeks, had not been seen except in a brief backstage pretape and had not been mentioned otherwise, whereas Karen Jarrett had not only been prominently featured, but had people cutting in-ring promos on her and had the announcers discussing her ad nauseam in multiple segments. This would continue throughout the night.
Shouldn't the holder of the most important championship in the company be more prominent on the show than that, especially given the storyline of Immortal being desperate to have all the titles in their faction? Shouldn't the new champion at least be established before other people start getting pushed ahead of him? Shouldn't he be one of the focal points of the show on general principles? Is it smart booking to have the world heavyweight champion take a backseat to anyone so early in his title reign, much less a glorified valet who just happens to be Jeff Jarrett's wife and Kurt Angle's ex?
For a minute, let's just forget about the fact that booking like this sends a message to the audience that the world champion -- and by extension, the championship itself -- is essentially meaningless when compared to Karen Jarrett, which completely invalidates the storyline of the titles being of vital importance to Immortal. What on earth does this woman have to offer that justifies pushing her this much? I will begrudgingly admit that the Jeff/Karen pairing is drawing heel heat, but no matter how much heat it generates, how does that possibly warrant her being pushed more than not only the man who should be positioned as the top star in the company, but countless other young stars who are in need of screen time as well? For God's sake, Vickie Guerrero is a heat magnet in WWE, but you don't see the entire show revolving around her while Edge and the Miz are relegated to midcard status, do you? No! And why? Because that would be stupid!
I know I don't speak for everyone. I know this is just one person's opinion. I don't care. Consider this a memo aimed straight at Karen Jarrett: I don't find you entertaining, not as a face or as a heel. I don't like you. I never like you. Whatever TNA management thinks you bring to the table does not justify you getting priority over the top stars in the company. You have no business getting so much TV time and no business getting pushed ahead of the in-ring talent, especially when the roster is already so overcrowded. Please remove yourself from my television screen and don't come back.
And for all present and future world champions (this includes you, Ken Anderson), I have an important message: It can't be a coincidence that the 2 most well-documented cases of Samoa Joe Syndrome in recent memory have been directly caused by Karen Jarrett. I believe this woman may be a carrier, quite possibly the source of this career-damaging disease.
If you ever see Karen Jarrett coming, run. Run for your @#$%ing life. Run as if the entire future of your world heavyweight title reign depends on it...
Because it does.
"Her voice is like slowly running over a dog with a tractor."
-Noah 'Spoony' Antwiler, on Karen Jarrett, wrestlewrestle.com.