Samoa Joe's third reign as NXT champion has come to an abrupt end.
Joe announced Sunday on Twitter he's relinquishing the title belt due to undisclosed injuries that will leave him unavailable for a "brief, yet still indeterminate amount of time."
The 42-year-old defeated Karrion Kross at NXT TakeOver 36 on Aug. 22 to capture the championship.
While it doesn't appear to have been planned, Joe alluded to how Sunday's announcement comes amid a period of major transition for NXT.
The brand recently lost one of its biggest stars, Adam Cole, to All Elite Wrestling, and Wrestling Observer Radio's Dave Meltzer (via Jason Ounpraseuth of Wrestling Inc) reported WWE was shifting gears for its developmental arm. The company wants to focus on building homegrown stars rather than relying on wrestlers with established profiles from the independent circuit.
NXT has also been teasing the new look it will unveil during Tuesday's show:
Joe's injury allows for NXT to complete this changing of the guard with a fresh face as its top singles champion on the men's side.
General manager William Regal will presumably announce the next steps from here Tuesday night.
A separated shoulder meant Kross' first title reign ended almost as soon as it began in August 2020. To determine a new champion, Regal booked a four-way Iron Man match between Cole, Finn Balor, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa to determine a new titleholder.
When that ended in a stalemate, Cole and Balor had a singles match on the second night of the Super Tuesday special. Perhaps Regal will opt for a similarly expedient route this time as well.
It's unclear when NXT will have its next major show. If the last few years are any indicator, then fans can expect to see WarGames around November or December. That would also allow for a more drawn-out title tournament to crown a new top dog.