Samoa Joe, having vacated the NXT Championship earlier this year, has made his first appearance for the brand since then by being pictured at the WWE Performance Centre.
Having won the NXT Championship from Karrion Kross at NXT TakeOver 36, Samoa Joe was forced to relinquish the title just days later.
Making the announcement via social media, the three-time title holder confirmed that he had been told by WWE medical staff that he had to step away from the ring for an amount of time he didn’t confirm.
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.
For the first time since that point, he has been pictured at the WWE Performance Centre, where he was alongside new recruit Alema Collins who shared about his experience on social media.
Collins previously played college football for Ottawa University in Arizona. He is one of a number of standout college athletes which WWE have featured as their latest signings.