The list of NXT cuts grew during the first week of January, as Fightful learned that Samoa Joe was released by WWE for the second straight year.
An interesting note was that when WWE provided Fightful a statement on Wednesday, January 5, they told us that talent wouldn't be a part of those cuts. This paints a pretty clear picture that they saw Samoa Joe, Timothy Thatcher and Danny Burch all done in-ring.
We're told that talent at the Performance Center had actually learned of Samoa Joe leaving WWE on Wednesday, even though the news broke on Thursday.
The word of Joe's release had actually made it outside of WWE, as a former talent tipped us off to it. The process of learning the releases has been unusual for talent and media. There has been no public statements from WWE for quite some time, but internally, talent and staff were sent notifications on the talent relations app. That hasn't been the case of late, and they only become known when they're learned about and confirmed by WWE. The reason for the release is considered by all we heard from to be a further dismantling of the 2013-2021 vision of NXT and what Triple H had built.
Staff that we talked to at the WWE Performance Center said that within a few weeks of Samoa Joe being stripped of the NXT Title and being made inactive, there wasn't much if any chatter about him returning to the ring and he'd settled well into his new role. Another talking point we heard repeatedly was that if William Regal was released, many expected Samoa Joe to be released as well. One source said they found it shocking that Joe wasn't cleared and was relegated to announcing on the main roster, was re-hired, cleared to wrestle, then not cleared again and stated they didn't expect him to return to the WWE ring after that. However, all of the sources we spoke to on the matter at the Performance Center believe he will return to the ring outside WWE.
Samoa Joe had continued working as a scout with WWE, and had helped out with the last set of tryouts. When we asked WWE about the nature of non-compete clauses, they wouldn't get into the specifics of contracts, but we're still working to learn them.
One WWE higher up said that Joe handled the situation "as professionally as possible, and considering the last few years he's had here that's easier said than done."
Fightful has already been contacted by four longtime indie promoters to gauge this process and have shown interest in booking Joe if he opts to return to the ring.
This article first appeared on our premium service, Fightful Select and has since been published publicly with ample time for our subscribers. Subscribe to get exclusive news every day, and a half-dozen weekly podcasts.
To directly support us and our continuing breaking news, interviews, and the like, subscribe to FightfulSelect.com. You'll get exclusive news sent to you directly before anyone else, and dozens of podcasts monthly including Alex Pawlowski's Sour Graps, Sean Ross Sapp's Q&A, Retro Reviews and more