Samoa Joe has vacated the NXT Championship just three weeks after winning the belt for a third time, and just days before the much-discussed NXT revamp.
Making the announcement on Twitter, the three-time NXT Champion said that WWE’s medical team had told him to take an undetermined amount of time off due to an injury which he didn’t disclose the nature of. He therefore confirmed he was relinquishing the title belt but would be coming back for it again once medically cleared.
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.
WWE confirmed the news officially shortly after, although their announcement was along the same lines and didn’t confirm the nature of the injury or the future of the title.
Samoa Joe became the first three-time title holder in NXT’s history at TakeOver 36 when he defeated Karrion Kross. His only appearance following winning the belt was two weeks ago, when he challenged younger competitors in NXT to step up.
This week’s NXT is the first following the brand’s revamp, which involves Vince McMahon taking control of the bigger picture. Already scheduled for the show was a fatal four-way match between Pete Dunne, Kyle O’Reilly, LA Knight and Tommaso Ciampa to determine the number one contender to the title, although this could change given what has happened.
Also already scheduled for NXT is a Women’s Championship match with Raquel Gonzalez defending against Franky Monet, Mandy Rose taking on Kacy Catanzaro, and the wedding of Dexter Lumis and Indi Hartwell.