Jonah was asked if the reason he dropped the NXT North American title suddenly was because he was going to be moved up to RAW or SmackDown:
"Originally when I won the NXT North American Championship, it was going to be quite a lengthy run as champion. That was the original plan, but as we know, pro wrestling things constantly change and can change at a whim as well.”
“I was told that, 'Hey, you've been put forward to move up to Raw or SmackDown. I started doing some dark matches and it seemed like it was a fail safe way they were going. So it was a fail safe for them. They took the North American Championship off of me thinking that's where I was heading, but didn't work out that way."
"I was put forward by Triple H himself saying that this is the guy that's ready for Raw or SmackDown, and that's what I was told was going to happen.”
On if he was surprised when he got released:
"Yes. I was completely shocked. It was not something I was expecting. Since then, and it's a little unfortunate, the culture backstage, I know a lot of people sometimes are a bit worried about these releases because they’ve been a more regular thing. But at the time, with how well I was doing, it never crossed my mind that I'd be released, ever."
“I had done a few dark matches. I had a meeting with Vince McMahon. It seemed like everything was going well. I was sitting at home, watching SmackDown actually, getting ready to take that path, and then I got a phone call from Connecticut. In my mind, I'm thinking it's about organizing flights or whatever to move to SmackDown or RAW, and I was released instead. So very, very much a big shock. I think it was a big shock to not only the fans, but a lot of the people that I worked with as well. I had a lot of people reach out to me instantly not understanding what was happening."
Jonah was asked if he signed a contract for RAW or SmackDown before he was released:
“I still had an NXT contract, but a month before I was released, I re-signed a new NXT contract. So I had signed quite a high end contract for NXT. Then as we were having the negotiations with RAW or SmackDown, I was like, well for some reason, I thought if worst case scenario I don't go to RAW or SmackDown, I just re-signed a three-year contract for NXT, so I'll just stay there. But then obviously they shuffled NXT around and then became NXT 2.0. All the management changed, so I guess I didn't fit in there either.”
Jonah was asked if he got a vibe that the reason why he was released was because he was a “Triple H guy”:
"Yeah, I 100% think it is something that could be a reason why, which sort of sucks because Hunter is such a great mind for wrestling and he's done so much for that company, for WWE. He was so instrumental for all the guys at NXT when it was the Black and Gold brand at helping them reach their potential. He was very hands on with the talent and I have no bad words to say about Hunter or my time at NXT. But it did seem like that shift is a reason why a lot of us did get released. You see a lot of guys that Hunter put his faith into like myself or Keith Lee, Karrion Kross, these guys that he made into champions all of a sudden be released. Then you had obviously guys like Adam Cole and Johnny Gargano choose to actually leave. So I think there was something to be said by having that shift in management.”
On his plans going forward:
"New Japan’s schedule is picking up, and soon enough once we get visas and stuff sorted, you'll see me in Japan as well. I've gone down that road where I'm going to be focusing solely on New Japan Pro Wrestling."
On if he would make shots for AEW:
"I'm not 100% sure. You know, I would say nothing is ever off the board, but I myself have been doing stuff with New Japan Strong trying to grow that brand here, the American style version of New Japan, but at the same time, I haven't debuted yet in Japan. AEW might want some of those guys that have been in Japan for a little while to kick down that door, but I am around, so you never know.”
Click below for the full interview.