When WWE released Samoa Joe, fans were heartbroken. The ROH and TNA legend had just begun to make his mark on the WWE main roster. While he never won the coveted WWE Champion, Samoa Joe was a multi-time NXT Champion as well as a former United States Champion.
Samoa Joe even won the NXT Championship just prior to his release, although he was forced to vacate the title just days after winning due to injury. This was his third reign with the belt, making him the most successful champion in the promotion’s history.
His end was a snapshot of Samoa Joe’s entire WWE run before WWE released Samoa Joe in January 2022. His main roster career was hampered by injuries and he never really got into his groove, save for a few bouts against Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns.
One huge missed opportunity for Samoa Joe in WWE was not booking him in a match with John Cena. The pair are long time friends and even trained together and were rivals at Ultimate Pro Wrestling in California.
Samoa Joe was one of the best in the ring and on the microphone in WWE, as he he showed with his incredible promo on Brock Lesnar which you can watch below.
Despite being so good at his craft, why did WWE release Samoa Joe?
Why did WWE release Samoa Joe?
WWE released Samoa Joe on January 6, 2022 with the reason given being “budget cuts”. Whilst Samoa Joe himself has not spoken out about the reason for his firing, other stars who were released at the same time have spoken out about the reasons.
On his Twitch stream, former WWE star Alaistar Black (now known as Malakai Black in AEW) discussed why he was released by WWE. The former NXT Champion claimed he was told that “budget cuts” were the reason for his departure, which was in the year prior to Samoa Joe’s release.
WWE started their regular culls of talent contract in 2020, blamed as budget cuts due to the pandemic. However, these mass firings have continued into 2022, when the likes of Samoa Joe, Cesaro and William Regal were all released from their WWE contract.
While he was released due to budget cuts, Samoa Joe’s health in recent years has also contributed to WWE deciding that he was the one to be release. Samoa Joe has been out with injury for long periods during his WWE career. He won the NXT Championship in 2021, but immediately went out with injury and was forced to vacate the title.
His lack of reliability was certainly a factor in Samoa Joe’s release. If Vince McMahon can’t rely on him to wrestle when he is needed, he really has no value to WWE. It’s a sad truth. He did have a spell as the commentator on Raw during an injury hit year, but his goal was always to wrestle. Sadly, he has had to achieve that goal outside the WWE.
It was the second time in two years that the ROH Hall of Famer was released by WWE. He was a casualty of the WWE budget cuts the year prior, and his re-signing and eventual firing was a huge surprise at every point in the journey. While Samoa Joe did not give the reason why he was released by WWE, he did react on Twitter after he was given the news.
Samoa Joe said “Extremely fortunate and grateful to all the young & amazing talent I had the pleasure of working with in the past months. Only saddened at the loss of an “excuse” to see their continued growth & achievement . I am very excited for there future,….. and mine”
Samoa Joe signed for All Elite Wrestling after his release from the WWE, and currently wrestles in both AEW and ROH. He currently holds the ROH TV Title and is one of the companies top wrestlers. Samoa Joe has held the title for over a year, and recently challenged MJF for the AEW Championship.
Alongside his feud with MJF, Samoa Joe most notably feuded with CM Punk during the latter’s final run in the company. Joe lost to Punk in the former WWE Champions’ last match in AEW, in front of 81,000 fans at the iconic Wembley Stadium for All In 2023.
Punk was fired immediately after, while Samoa Joe took his spot in a world title feud with MJF.
Samoa Joe’s Last WWE Match
Samoa Joe wrestled in his match for the WWE in the WWE brand, where he was demoted following a stint out of the ring due to injury. After a year working as a commentator after suffering from a concussion, he was brought down to NXT to wrestle under Triple H again in 2021, four years after first being called up to the main roster.
He was actually fired by the WWE in April 2021, but was rehired just two months later to wrestle on the NXT brand. Samoa Joe was instantly put into a world championship feud with then-champion Karrion Kross, who had been built up as an unstoppable monster, with wins over top stars like Adam Cole – with the help of his wife and manager, Scarlett Bordeaux, by his side.
Samoa Joe faced Karrion Kross at NXT Takeover 36, shocking the world by actually winning the match against the previously undefeated wrestler. He won the NXT Championship for the third time by defeating the dominated champion, and seemed to signal a return to the old ways of NXT. This made him the most successful NXT Champion of all time, with nobody having more title reigns than Samoa Joe.
Sadly, Samoa Joe would vacate the NXT Championship soon after. He caught COVID just weeks after, and was kept out of the ring by the company even after he recovered from the illness. WWE seemed to ignore Samoa Joe and refused to allow him to appear for the company until he was let go in January 2022, making Samoa Joe vs Karrion Kross his last match in the WWE.