Former WWE Superstar Samoa Joe has opened up about why he suddenly dropped the NXT Title just days after winning it for a third time.
After being released by WWE on April 15th 2021, Samoa Joe completed the unlikeliest of comebacks, re-signing with the company right away. His return was sealed on the June 15th episode of NXT where became then General Manger, William Regal’s enforcer.
His repeated clashes with NXT Champion Karrion Kross eventually led to him returning to the ring for the first time in 18 months. At NXT TakeOver:36, Joe defeated Kross to win the NXT Championship for a record-setting third time.
However, before he had even had chance to defend his title, Joe was forced to vacate the belt owing to an undisclosed injury. Just days after the announcement, NXT was rebranded as NXT 2.0 and the former champion didn’t wrestle for WWE again, instead working behind the scenes.
On January 6th, following the departures of a number of long-standing NXT figures such as William Regal, Samoa Joe was also released by WWE for a second time.
Speaking during an appearance on Busted Open Radio, Samoa Joe revealed that testing positive for COVID-19 led him to drop the title so suddenly. Joe explained that this also gave him the opportunity to move behind the scenes with NXT becoming NXT 2.0.
“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.'”
Expanding further, Joe said that he found the move into a coaching role invigorating, detailing how he worked closely with long-time NXT coach Matt Bloom.
“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 is currently a free agent, following his departure from WWE. However, during the same conversation, the soon-to-be Ring of Honor Hall of Famer said that he’s back in training and ready to return to the ring.
H/t to Fightful for the transcription.