Samoa Joe NXT 2021
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Samoa Joe Vacated The NXT Championship After Testing Positive For COVID-19

Samoa Joe sets the record straight about why he dropped the NXT Championship in 2021.

Samoa Joe won the NXT Championship at NXT TakeOver 36, but the title reign was short-lived as he soon had to vacate the title due to an “undisclosed injury.” Now speaking on Busted Open RadioJoe confirmed that he dropped the title because he tested positive for COVID-19, then spoke about how the direction of NXT led to him finding a behind-the-scenes role.

“I popped for COVID. You know, at the time, it was just … over the weekend, my wife was making stew and I couldn’t smell it,” Joe explained. “She said, ‘Wow, doesn’t that smell great?’ and I went, ‘No.’ I tested positive, I think on Saturday.”

Joe then spoke about how he really dove into his new role working behind the scenes, and how the direction of NXT changed before he was ultimately released from his contract.

“And by then, Vince [McMahon] had wanted to go in a different direction with NXT and he really wanted to have the new opening of NXT 2.0 kinda 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, what you want for this product. I kinda went behind the scenes and I started working with talent on a real 1-to-1 basis, pulling guys individually into open gyms and working with them, just focusing on a lot of these really tremendous prospects that we brought in. They were really, really hungry to learn, really, really excited about this newfound opportunity and it was really invigorating for me,” Joe said. “It amps up your own spirit, so I was really delving into that heavily and working with Matt Bloom, really revising things and training techniques, evaluating what we were doing already and seeing if we could do it better. That was pretty much the end of my tenure at WWE as well.”

When he dropped the title in September 2021, Joe issued a statement and explained that WWE’s medical team had advised him to step away from the ring “due to certain injuries.” Joe’s third NXT Championship reign was recognized as lasting 21 days by WWE.

Samoa Joe was initially released by WWE in April 2021, but Triple H re-signed him a few months later in June 2021. Joe was pulled from television after dropping the NXT Championship in September, and never appeared on camera again. He was released by the company a second time in January 2022 and remains a free agent.

Read More: Samoa Joe To Be Inducted Into The 2022 Ring Of Honor Hall Of Fame

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