Samoa Joe was released from his WWE NXT contract earlier today as a part of the major overhaul of WWE NXT and WWE Performance Center staff that kicked off on Wednesday. Joe has been a trending topic on social media since then.
In an update, word is that talent at the WWE Performance Center actually learned of Joe leaving the company on Wednesday, but the news didn’t break until today, according to Fightful Select. The word of Joe’s release also made it outside of WWE as at least one former WWE talent knew about it before it was confirmed this evening.
There’s a feeling among people in WWE that Joe was released as a part of the further dismantling of the 2013-2021 vision of NXT, and what Triple H had built. This is in line with veteran employees who were released on Wednesday, who were a part of the Triple H era, such as William Regal.
After being removed from the RAW announce team, where he’d been while recovering from injuries, and then released back in April, Triple H brought Joe back to NXT in July, as an enforcer to Regal’s General Manager character. He then returned to the ring to win the NXT Title from Karrion Kross, but had to relinquish the title shortly after winning it due to an undisclosed injury. Performance Center sources noted that within a few weeks of Joe relinquishing the NXT Title and being made inactive in mid-September, there wasn’t much of any chatter about him returning to the ring, and he had settled well into his new role. There was a feeling among some at the Performance Center that if Regal was to be released, then Joe would be cut at the same time.
There is also a feeling within WWE that Joe will continue his in-ring career outside of WWE, something he teased in his post-release statement this evening. When WWE issued a statement before the releases began on Wednesday, they noted that talent would not be a part of the cuts. The departures of Joe, Timothy Thatcher and Danny Burch is a good sign that WWE saw them all as being done in the ring.
One WWE higher-up noted that Joe handled his situation “as professionally as possible, and considering the last few years he’s had here that’s easier said than done.”
As noted, WWE issued a statement on Wednesday evening and said due to NXT 2.0 changes, several producers, writers and coaches were being released. WWE Hall of Famer “Road Dogg” Brian James was the first name revealed, along with Sarah Cummins, who was working as the Senior Vice President of Consumer Products, as we reported at this link. It was then revealed that Regal, Ryan Katz, Dave Kapoor, Scott Armstrong, George Carroll, and Christopher Guy were released, which we reported on at this link. It was then revealed that Hachiman, Timothy Thatcher, Danny Burch and Cathy Corino were also released, which we noted at this link. It was then revealed today, at this link, how Gabe Sapolsky was released.
You can click here for a backstage update on the releases and how names from the Triple H-era of NXT were cut, along with WWE’s full statement on the departures, and news on how some reacted to the New Year’s Evil entrance booked for new NXT Champion Bron Breakker. You can click here for Road Dogg’s post-release comments, and click here for what several top stars had to say about Regal’s departure. You can also click here for a statement from Katz on his departure, and click here for a statement from Armstrong.
There is no word yet on what Joe has planned for his future, or what kind of non-compete clause he is under, but we will keep you updated.
Stay tuned for more.