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.