Samoa Joe made his on-camera debut for WWE in May of 2015 with NXT, and it would be close to two full years later before he debuted on the main roster. Joe explained the reason for his lengthy tenure in NXT during a recent appearance on Chris Jericho's podcast, Talk Is Jericho.
According to Joe, he said that he stayed in NXT so long to help promote NXT as a third touring brand. That reasoning also applied to extended stints in NXT for Finn Balor and Shinsuke Nakamura.
"We were kind of these mainstays," Joe explained. "It was a touring brand at this point, and it was, like, I felt [NXT] kind of needed us."
Joe also put Bayley in that category, describing her as "another consummate player. ... It was kind of what people showed up and paid to see."
Joe went on to liken NXT in its current form to the original incarnation of ECW and Ring Of Honor, where Joe was a headliner for several years and had a lengthy run as ROH World Champion.
"NXT is at a level now where it is a third touring brand within the WWE spectrum and you have to now produce talent that have the risk of being gone," he said. "I liken it to a Ring Of Honor or an ECW where it's like, you'd build these huge stars, but eventually opportunity comes calling and now you have to start from scratch."
Joe and Balor now are featured performers for the Raw brand, while Nakamura is on Smackdown.