Samoa Joe tested positive for COVID before relinquishing NXT Title, recalls conversation with Vince McMahon

Samoa Joe speaks about why he relinquished the NXT Title prior to the launch of NXT 2.0 and his conversation with Vince McMahon about it

Photo Courtesy: WWE

Before the launch of NXT 2.0, Samoa Joe tested positive for COVID.

In early January, Samoa Joe was released by WWE for the second time since April 2021. When Joe returned to WWE, he was featured on the NXT brand and his return led to a singles match at TakeOver 36 where he defeated Karrion Kross to become NXT Champion.

As the launch of NXT 2.0 was nearing, Joe posted a video on his social media platforms and shared that he was relinquishing the NXT Title “due to certain injuries” and then he transitioned into a full-time role backstage.

He guest appeared on Busted Open Radio with Dave LaGreca and Tommy Dreamer and shared that he tested positive for COVID prior to relinquishing the title. He had a conversation with Vince McMahon about Vince’s vision for NXT and Joe agreed with what he had to say. He told McMahon that if relinquishing the title is what he wants for the product, then he’ll do it.

I popped for COVID. You know, at the time, it was over the weekend. My wife was making stew and I couldn’t smell it. She said, ‘Wow, doesn’t that smell great?’ I went, ‘No’ and then I tested positive I think on Saturday and by then, Vince [McMahon] had really wanted to go in a different direction with NXT and he really wanted to have the new opening of NXT 2.0 kind of be with a bang and I agreed with him. I said, ‘Listen, if that’s the case, then you know, this is probably what’s best for what your vision is for what you want for this product’ and I did, I kind of went behind the scenes and I just started working with talent on a real one-to-one basis, pulling guys individually in open gyms, working with them and just focusing on a lot of the — these really new, tremendous prospects that we brought in and people were like really, really hungry to learn, really, really excited about this new-found opportunity and it was really invigorating for me. I think you [Tommy Dreamer] can speak to that. Whenever you’re working with young talent that are hungry and really, really want to succeed on a very, very high level, it kind of amps up your own spirit a little bit so I was really delving into that heavily and working with Matt Bloom on really revising things and training techniques and kind of evaluating what we were doing already and seeing if we could do it better and yeah, that was pretty much the end of my tenure at WWE is really what I was absorbed in.

Joe’s last sanctioned match was at that TakeOver 36 show. He is 42 years of age and is in his 22nd year in the sport of pro wrestling.

On the 2/9 AEW Dynamite, while CM Punk was looking for a partner to team up against FTR (Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler) with, he jokingly tweeted at Samoa Joe to ask if he was available.

If the quote in this article is used, please credit Busted Open Radio with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcription. 

About Andrew Thompson 8465 Articles
A Washington D.C. native and graduate of Norfolk State University, Andrew Thompson has been covering wrestling since 2017.