With reigning United States Champion Andrade set to return to action at Thursday’s Super ShowDown pay-per-view after a month’s absence, it looks like another Monday Night Raw superstar — and former U.S. Champion — has allegedly run afoul of WWE‘s rules on prohibited substances. As recently confirmed on the company’s website (via WrestlingNews.co), Samoa Joe was suspended for 30 days on Monday, February 24, for his first violation of the Wellness Policy.
According to WrestlingNews.co, the news of Joe’s suspension comes a few weeks after the WrestleVotes Twitter account reported that he had failed a Wellness Policy test for performance-enhancing substances. These rumors were quickly denied by WWE sources, who maintained that the 40-year-old did not appear in recent episodes of Raw due to a concussion, with more recent reports suggesting that he had suffered a head injury during a commercial shoot.
As of late last week, rumors were still hinting that Joe’s absence from WWE television was related to head injuries, with Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter writing that the former NXT Champion could be on “risky ground” with company owner Vince McMahon. With the narrative suggesting that Joe might have suffered two concussions in just a few weeks’ time, there was concern that McMahon might see him as being too “fragile” for a prominent TV role.
— WWE (@WWE) December 31, 2019
It has yet to be clarified whether Joe’s purported concussions are legitimate and unrelated to his issues with WWE’s Wellness Policy. However, WrestlingNews.co speculated that at least one of his head injuries might have been used to justify his failed wellness test, thus potentially corroborating WrestleVotes’ original report.
At the time of Joe’s last appearances on Monday Night Raw, he was playing a key role in one of the red brand’s top storylines, aligning with Kevin Owens and the Viking Raiders (Erik and Ivar) in his first babyface stint on the main roster. This loose alliance remains embroiled in a feud with Seth Rollins’ heel faction, which also includes the Authors of Pain (Akam and Rezar) and the recently renamed Murphy, as noted by Bleacher Report.
It’s still unknown what fans can expect from Joe once he returns from his suspension, but he has become the latest in a growing number of WWE superstars to serve 30-day suspensions for their first Wellness Policy violations. Aside from Andrade, two Friday Night SmackDown performers — Robert Roode and Epico Colon — were out for a month for similar reasons, though Roode has since returned to the blue brand and resumed his partnership with tag teammate Dolph Ziggler.