Samoa Joe Vacates The NXT Championship
Just a couple of days before the NXT brand receives a complete overhaul, the standard bearer of the show has been forced to step away for a while. Samoa Joe revealed on his social media that WWE medical staff have declared him medically ineligible to compete for a "brief, yet indeterminate amount of time". As such, he is relinquishing the NXT Championship, effective immediately.
Samoa Joe returned to in-ring action at NXT Takeover 36, beating Karrion Kross to win the NXT tile for a record 3rd time. Prior to that, he served as an "enforcer" in NXT for General Manager William Regal. He has had a tumultous couple of years, suffering a concussion in early 2020 that put him on the sidelines up until that Takeover match with Kross. In between, he served as a colour commentator on Monday Night Raw, and was shockingly fired immediately following WrestleMania 37, only to be re-hired in June as part of NXT.
Thoughts: This is terrible news for Joe and the NXT brand as a whole. His entire WWE run has been plagued with injuries and setbacks, and for it to happen so soon after a successful return is heartbreaking for the talented veteran. One has to wonder what this means for Joe's WWE future. He seems confident in a relatively quick return based on the video he put out, but given the volative nature of WWE employment and Joe's medical history, they may be opting to cut ties after this one.
Also, I never do this, but there's a little "conspiracy theorist" voice in my head that wants to question the validity of this injury, with the timing right before a re-branded NXT, with the rumours going around that Vince is now overseeing the brand, and they want to focus on younger talent without indie backgrounds- so the opposite of the 42 year old Samoa Joe who has wrestled everywhere. If the injury is legitimate, then it is truly awful timing and I wish Joe the best in his recovery.