NXT TakeOver: Chicago Preview – NXT Champion Bobby Roode vs. Hideo Itami

Hideo Itami will enter TakeOver: Chicago on Saturday, May 20, intent not just on dethroning Bobby Roode as NXT Champion, but on showing the world why he deserves to be considered one of the very best.

The main-event opportunity has been a long time coming for the hard-hitting Superstar, a seeming inevitability delayed for years by untimely injuries. Itami’s rise up the ranks in NXT has been stymied since his widely publicized signing in 2014, with the latest setback occurring last fall.

That helps explain the dangerous sense of urgency with which Itami has operated since returning last month to confront (and put to sleep) The Glorious One. Focused on making up for lost time, Itami demolished Kona Reeves in his first bout back on WWE Network on May 3, then prevailed over a gutsy Roderick Strong in a closely fought No. 1 Contender’s Match on May 10.

It was Roode’s claim that nobody belongs in “his” NXT that seemingly drew Itami’s ire in the first place. Arrogant and brash though he might be, Roode has backed up his big words when the time comes. Still, Itami turned out Roode’s lights with his soporific strike, the Go-To-Sleep, once before. Can the Japanese Superstar do the same in Chicago and claim NXT’s top prize in the process? Or will the era of The Glorious One continue to reign?

Watch NXT Champion Bobby Roode defend against Hideo Itami at NXT TakeOver: Chicago, live on the award-winning WWE Network Saturday, May 20, at 8 ET/5 PT.




WWE.com: Hideo Itami Battles Roderick Strong To Determine No. 1 Contender To NXT Championship

Two of the best wrestlers in the world will compete to see who will be the new No. 1 contender to the NXT Championship when Hideo Itami goes head-to-head with Roderick Strong.

Both of these highly acclaimed in-ring veterans are more than worthy of a chance to challenge Bobby Roode, but only one can get the opportunity. Itami is back from injury and better than ever. The world-renowned Japanese Superstar returned two weeks ago to NXT, hitting the Go-To-Sleep on the champion, before making another emphatic statement with a forceful victory over Kona Reeves a week later. Itami clearly has his sights set on Roode’s NXT Title, but he will have to go through Strong first.

Strong, who has spent most of his stay in NXT thus far fighting SAnitY alongside Tye Dillinger and others, is widely recognized as one of the best competitors in the world. But, as seen in the emotional videos documenting Strong’s journey inside and outside the squared circle, the new father now has more motivation than ever to reach the top of NXT.

Find out who will challenge Bobby Roode for the NXT Championship when Itami and Strong collide tonight at 8/7 C on the award-winning WWE Network.




WWE.com: The 10 Biggest Signings Of NXT’s TakeOver Era

#10. Hideo Itami

Hideo Itami didn’t just open the door for international signings to NXT; he kicked it down. The Japanese Superstar arrived amid a fury of fanfare as NXT’s first highly acclaimed international competitor.

NXT rolled out the red carpet for Itami, performing an in-ring contract signing in his home country of Japan. The renowned wrestler’s debut was no different as General Manager William Regal welcomed him with open arms at NXT TakeOver: Fatal 4-Way.

Although Itami’s tenure has been slightly marred by injuries, his signing continues to be a landmark event in the history of NXT.




WWE.com: Hideo Itami Makes A Surprising Return To NXT

ORLANDO, Fla. — Hideo Itami is back on the scene in NXT! During an NXT Live Event in Orlando last night, Hideo Itami shocked the NXT Universe when he returned to the black-and-yellow brand. Itami, who had been out of action since October with a neck injury, returned with only one man in his sights: Riddick Moss.

Moss, who took credit for injuring Itami, had been boasting about it all week on social media.

Itami noticed Moss’ tweet storm and made it clear that the two would be seeing each other much sooner than later.

Well, it turned out to be sooner. Itami returned and hit Moss with a GTS to remember. Watch NXT on the award-winning WWE Network to see what happens next between these two Superstars!




Video: Hideo Itami Makes In-Ring Return At NXT Live Event

Courtesy of NXT’s Instagram:




WWE.com: Hideo Itami Out Of Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Due To Injury

Hideo Itami has suffered an injury and will not be able to compete in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, WWE.com has learned.

The injury comes at an unfortunate time for Itami. The NXT Universe was looking forward to seeing him join forces with Kota Ibushi in the Classic, with some on social media declaring them favorites to win the whole tournament. With Itami ruled out of action, Ibushi’s new partner is not yet known.

In an exclusive interview with WWE.com, Itami admitted that he is unsure if he will be able to compete at NXT TakeOver: Toronto, but he vowed to be at NXT’s first Live Event in his home country of Japan on Dec. 3 in Osaka.

Stick with WWE.com for more on this story as it develops.

We wish Hideo Itami the best in what will hopefully be a speedy recovery.




WWE.com: Hideo Itami and Kota Ibushi To Compete In 2016 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic

Two of Japan’s biggest stars are joining forces for the Dusty Classic.

Ibushi made waves in this past summer’s Cruiserweight Classic on his way to the tournament semifinals. Now The Golden Star will be looking to do one better in this tournament and leave TakeOver: Toronto with his name engraved on the tournament trophy. Itami is just getting back in the swing of things after spending more than a year on the shelf with a shoulder injury. He’ll be out to prove that he hasn’t lost a step.

Itami & Ibushi may be the hardest-hitting team in the field of 16, possessing an arsenal of kicks that leave their opponents battered and bruised in an instant. That gives them a distinct advantage over the rest of the teams in the Classic. This duo may be able to carve an easy path to the finals for themselves, but a painful one for their opponents.




WWE.com: The 10 Hardest-Hitting Moves Ever!

#6. Hideo Itami’s Go to Sleep

When it comes to inventive ways of knocking dudes out, Hideo Itami is Leonardo Da Vinci. He is Albert Einstein. He is Nikola Tesla. And the Go to Sleep is his masterpiece. The move is incredibly simple — Itami props an opponent up on his shoulders and dumps him face-first into a waiting kneecap — but its knockout power sits pretty much at 100 percent. There’s not a Superstar alive who’s taken Itami’s GTS and hasn’t needed smelling salts in the back a few minutes later, and with Itami back in the mix at WWE NXT … well, let’s say the trainer’s room is gonna be filling up awfully fast. — ANTHONY BENIGNO