Samoa Joe ended Karrion Kross’ long NXT title reign at NXT Takeover 36. Strangely, he never defended the belt and he ended up quickly relinquishing it.
The reason fans were told at the time was that this was due to injury. But now it seems this wasn’t the case.
Samoe Joe recently speaking on Busted Open Radio explained the decision behind relinquishing the NXT Title:
“I popped for COVID. It was the weekend, my wife was making stew and I couldn’t smell it. She said, ‘Wow, doesn’t that smell great.’ I said, ‘No.’ I tested positive on Saturday. By then, Vince wanted to go in a different direction with NXT and he wanted to have the new opening with NXT 2.0 be with a bang and I agreed with him. I said, ‘If that’s the case, this is probably what’s best for what your vision is for this product.’ I went behind the scenes and started working with talent on a one to one basis, pulling guys individually in open gyms, working with them, and focusing on these new tremendous prospects were brought in and people that were hungry to learn and excited about this newfound opportunity. It was invigorating for me. When you’re working with younger talent that are hungry and want to succeed on a high level, it amps up your own spirit. I was delving into that heavily. Working with Matt Bloom on revising things, training techniques, and evaluating what we were doing already and seeing if we could do it better. That was really the end of my tenure at WWE,”
Samoa Joe was released by WWE in early January this year, and fans have not heard a whole lot from him until now. Hopefully we can now start to hear and see more of him.
H/T to Fightful’s Jeremy Lambert for the transcription