“It was weird. Johnny [Laurinaitis] called me and I thought it was a rare call from Johnny. ‘Hey, what’s up Johnny, how you doing?’ He told me, ‘Hey, listen, we’re going to have to release you from your contract.’ I was just like, ‘Okay, cool.’ ‘Joe, you know we think the world of you and we’d love to work with you again.’ And I was like, ‘Alright, absolutely Johnny.’
“And honestly, I did have a bit of understanding. Obviously at the time, dealing with injuries, coming back, getting ready to get my rehabilitation going and all that stuff. We’re in a pandemic. All this other stuff. So, I got it. It wasn’t unexpected, but at the same time I was relatively calm about it. I’ve kind of been in this situation before. A younger me probably would have been really, really freaked out. But, I mean at this point you just roll/pivot. That’s really all there is to it when it comes to life in general. That’s kind of the mantra I’ve kept. At that point I think I was already kind of in the works and setting up the next framework for whatever else I was going to do. A few hours later I get a call from Hunter and it pretty much all kind of changed.
“I had sent some company farewell texts, just to people to say, ‘Hey, look, pleasure working with you.’ Some genuine people that I really, really enjoyed working with. Just some general like, ‘Hey, thanks and I’m sure we’ll talk down the road at some point’ or something like that. I got a text back, ‘Hey, give me a minute, I’m getting out of a meeting.’ We had a brief conversation which was essentially like, ‘Give us a little bit of time. I’ll work out a package and we’ll be talking soon.’ I said, ‘Alright, that’s totally fine. I have no problem with that.’ It led to my return back to NXT.”
Planning for Joe’s new hybrid on-screen/behind-the-scenes started early, too:
“...a lot of it was that me and Triple H had spoken about this transition in-depth further.
It wasn’t just coming back to NXT, and being an enforcer, and having a role on the show. Now I’m working in the talent scouting department with Canyon Ceman. A few more administrative things here and there behind the scenes.
It’s a little a bit of a transition for me, too, into some of the other aspects of the business of WWE. It’s kind of an evolution on my journey. I’ve gone through the commentary production ranks, now I’m working a little bit more on the behind the house type of things.
It was a really great, cool opportunity that Hunter offered me and, you know, still a performer here within the bounds of WWE. It was a very, very nice understanding that we’ve come to and I’m really excited about it.”
It sounds a little weird considering the company seems to be in roster-trimming mode, but Joe says his extensive contacts in pro wrestling and combat sports have him “looking forward to giving an opportunity to a lot of people that maybe wouldn’t get the look that they normally would get.”
He’s looking forward to getting back in the ring for the first time since a series of concussions sidelined him in January 2020. When Satin asked Joe if he’d be returning to the ring, the response was:
“Absolutely …….. we’ll just say yes. We’ll leave it at that.”
As to who he’d like to face, the former NXT champ mentioned several of the guys the brand’s already teased, like Karrion Kross, Pete Dunne, and Adam Cole (as well as Cole’s former Undisputed brothers Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong). He threw in a couple other possibilities that will have hoss fight aficionados drooling, too:
“I think a guy like WALTER – hey, people have been asking for it. I’m not blind. And it’s for good reason. The guy is a powerhouse and people want to see some furniture moving...
“Bronson Reed! I know he’s always yappin’. He wants to get some. He always running his mouth. Aussies, you know, they got big mouths down there. The kangaroos got big pouches, they got big mouths. That’s Aussies for you! What can you do [laughing]?!”
Joe’s a great listen, as always. Check out the entire pod here.
And let us know what you think of his return, and who’s on your wish list of guys you want to see him face now that he’s back, in the comments below.