Samoa Joe has relinquished the NXT Championship just three weeks into his third reign, days before the brand’s first episode following a major revamp.
Announcing his intent to vacate the title via Twitter, Joe revealed that he had suffered an injury and that WWE’s medical team had advised him to step away from the ring for an as-yet-unknown amount of time. Therefore, he has voluntarily relinquished the title but vowed that he would be back to “recollect what’s mine” soon.
“Hello, I am NXT champion Samoa Joe. As part of my recent return, my goals were very simple. I sought to ensure the respect and integrity due to both NXT and its championship. I sought to ensure that everybody understood that the needs of one individual will never outstrip the sum of the brand.
Today, I find myself having to stand on those principles. Recently, WWE medical has informed me that due to certain injuries, they would like to have me step away for the ring for a brief, yet still indeterminate, amount of time. I realised that this week we are on the cusp of a new NXT, we are on the brink of a new era in our history and I realised that that era deserves a fighting champion.
That’s why it makes this a very difficult decision very easy to make. Effective immediately, I relinquish the NXT championship. Best of luck to those who will vie for it. My sincerest condolences to whoever wins because I will be along shortly to recollect what’s mine.”
A WWE.com update shortly followed but provided no further details on Joe’s injury nor the future of the NXT Championship.
Samoa Joe became the first-ever three-time NXT Champion just 22 days ago, defeating Karrion Kross for the belt at NXT TakeOver 36. His last appearance on NXT TV prior to relinquishing the title came just two weeks ago where he urged the influx of up-and-comers to “seize their opportunity” in a backstage interview with Wade Barrett.
This week’s episode of NXT will be the first following a major revamp that will reportedly see Vince McMahon take control of the “bigger picture” of the brand amongst various production changes. A Fatal-4-Way between Pete Dunne, Kyle O’Reilly, LA Knight and Tommaso Ciampa to determine Joe’s first challenger was originally set for the program, though there has been no word on whether the match will be changed or postponed due to the title being vacated.
Elsewhere on the show: Franky Monet will challenge Raquel Gonzalez for the NXT Women’s Championship, Mandy Rose takes on Kacy Catanzaro and the long-awaited wedding of Dexter Lumis and Indi Hartwell will take place.
Inside The Ropes will provide further updates on this story as and when details are available.