In January, WWE released Samoa Joe for the second time in eight months.
Last year was an interesting one for Samoa Joe. WWE released him not once, but twice. Before earning his walking papers for the second time, he returned to the ring, won the NXT championship a third time, relinquished it, and helped numerous rising stars gain their feet in the show’s 2.0 iteration.
Joe has been inducted into the Ring of Honor Hall of Fame upon his release in early 2022. Now he’s thinking about what’s next for a soon-to-be 43-year-old pro wrestler.
Joe recounted how his in-ring return ended, revealing the “injury” that caused him to relinquish the NXT belt. With the 2.0 rebranding in the works, it seems he wasn’t going to be champ for long:
“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 of 2.0 to 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.’
“I went behind the scenes and started working with talent on a one-on-one basis, pulling guys individually in open gyms, working with them, and focusing on these new tremendous prospects that 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.”
He also spoke about what’s ahead, but not before mentioning a few of the outstanding young individuals he worked with before being let go the second time.
“Since my departure from WWE, I’ve really been consumed with outside work, outside of the wrestling industry. A lot of cool voiceover stuff, some other things — so, been busy with that. As far as my future here [in wrestling], I kind of started my road back to the ring in NXT. That road never really stopped, just kept training.
“And actually it’s funny, being in the PC at the time with a lot of young talent, working with guys who are there now — by the way, I want to put over a few NXT talent – I think The Creed Brothers are going to be amazing, I think Solo Sikoa has the family behind him, I think he’s gonna be another amazing cat. I can go on and on. I think the world of a lot of NXT 2.0 guys. Young Bron Breakker is going to be amazing. I really regret I didn’t get to work with him a little bit more before he’s going to make his eventual rise to the top, because once again, it’s in the genes. He knows what’s up.”
While Joe isn’t saying anything about a possible return to the stage, he does say he’ll be ready when the perfect situation comes along.