NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable Preview: Finn Bálor vs. Hideo Itami vs. Tyler Breeze (NXT Championship No. 1 Contender’s Triple Threat Match)

Three of NXT’s brightest Superstars will battle for the opportunity to challenge for the NXT Championship at TakeOver: Unstoppable, as Finn Bálor, Hideo Itami and Tyler Breeze will meet in a No. 1 Contender’s Triple Threat Match. Each Superstar is more than worthy of a title match, but they’ll have to prove it inside the ring during the live broadcast on WWE Network.

Bálor emerged victorious from an eight-Superstar tournament earlier this year to win the No. 1 Contendership, defeating Curtis Axel and Itami en route to a showdown with Neville in the finals at TakeOver: Rival. Donning his demonic war paint, Bálor defeated the high-flyer with the Coup de Grace to earn a title match. The Irish Superstar came up short against NXT Champion Kevin Owens, but is eager for another crack at the title.

At last May’s TakeOver, Breeze defeated Sami Zayn to become the No. 1 Contender to the NXT Championship. Prince Pretty’s only one-on-one title match came in August 2014, when he challenged Adrian Neville, only for Sami Zayn and Tyson Kidd to interfere, setting the stage for the Fatal 4-Way scramble that WWE.com placed among the best of the year. Since then, Breeze has been immersed in a rivalry with Itami, defeating the Japanese sensation in a grueling 2-Out-of-3 Falls Match. He recently set his sights on Bálor, making this Triple Threat Match a bit undesirable for Prince Pretty.

Itami may be the wild card in the equation. Since arriving in NXT, he has made his presence felt in high-profile bouts against The Ascension and Breeze, in addition to appearing on The Grandest Stage of Them All, WrestleMania. However, the Japanese star has yet to challenge for a title in NXT. Hideo Itami is on quite a roll as of late. Could this be his golden opportunity?

Who will become the No. 1 Contender to the NXT Championship? Find out at NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable, live on the award-winning WWE Network on Wednesday, May 20, at 8 ET/5 PT!

New NXT Recruit Sesugh Uhaa Mentions Hideo In Recent Interview With WWE.com

In a recent exclusive interview with WWE.com, new NXT recruit Sesugh ‘Uhaa Nation’ Uhaa, was asked several question including who currently on the WWE / NXT rosters would be his dream opponents. Here’s what he had to say:

WWE.COM: You’ve already crossed paths with several NXT and WWE Superstars, including Neville and Luke Harper. Taking a look at the rosters, who are your dream opponents?

UHAA: Oh, there are so many. You’ve got Neville, Finn Bálor, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens. Luke Harper, we had a lot of fun in DGUSA. Dolph Ziggler. The list is endless. Kalisto… There are just so many talented guys here. You’ve got Hideo Itami. There’s so many that it almost seems like there’s not enough time. You want to go out there and wrestle them all at one time. Another one is Solomon Crowe. I got to wrestle him before during WrestleMania Week in New Jersey for EVOLVE, and he’s just a guy I want to learn so much from. The list is endless.

You can read the full interview here.

WWE.com: NXT Superstar Hideo Itami Wins Wrestlemania Axxess Tournament For A Spot In The Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Hideo Itami is going to WrestleMania. Though he’s only been in WWE NXT — and America — for six months, the Japanese sensation has made an immediate impact since arriving. It was no different at the first session of WrestleMania Axxess tonight, where Itami won a four-man tournament to earn a spot in the prestigious Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal this Sunday at WrestleMania.

Itami defeated former NXT Champion Adrian Neville in the semi-finals of the tournament. That win earned the Japanese star a spot in the finals against his friend and occasional tag team partner Finn Bálor, who beat Tyler Breeze in the other semi-final match. It was the first time the two friends met since they clashed in the semi-finals of an NXT Championship No. 1 Contender’s Tournament, where Bálor emerged victorious.

Itami and Bálor had WWE fans at Axxess swarming around the ring to catch a glimpse of a high-octane struggle. In the end, the Japanese Superstar put his friend away with a running dropkick to punch his ticket to WrestleMania. The magnitude of this opportunity isn’t lost on Itami. He almost couldn’t believe that he was heading to The Show of Shows.

”I’m not dreaming? This is real?,” an exhausted Itami asked Corey Graves in a WWE.com exclusive interview.

And if the big win wasn’t enough, Itami was joined by a very special guest to celebrate his victory in the ring. WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015 Inductee Tatsumi Fujinami entered the Axxess arena to raise Itami’s arm in victory.

“He is a legend in Japanese wrestling,” Itami said. “I was very honored. Very honored.”

After letting the magnitude of the moment set in, Itami turned his attention to Sunday night and the prestigious over-the-top-rope affair.

“I’m not finished, “ he declared. “The Battle Royal? I’m going to win.”

How will Hideo Itami fare in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal? Find out this Sunday during the two-hour WrestleMania 31 Kickoff, live on WWE Network at 5pm. ET/2pm. PT!

WWE.com: NXT Tournament At Axxess To Decide Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal Entrant

An NXT tournament will be held this Thursday at WrestleMania Axxess, with the winner earning the right to compete in the second annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal days later at WrestleMania.

Tournament participants will include former NXT Champion Adrian Neville, Finn Bálor, Tyler Breeze and Hideo Itami, WWE.com has confirmed. WrestleMania Axxess, which is the year’s biggest gathering of WWE fans, takes place at the San Jose Convention Center Thursday, March 26, through Sunday, March 29.

Find out which NXT Superstar will outlast the competition and make his debut on The Grandest Stage of Them All when the action goes down this Thursday at Axxess!

NXT TakeOver: Rival Preview: Hideo Itami vs. Tyler Breeze

Tyler Breeze and Hideo Itami will each be in search of payback when they battle one-on-one at NXT TakeOver: Rival.

The WWE Network special’s newest match, announced on the TakeOver Pre-Show, stems from the first round of the NXT Championship No. 1 Contender’s Tournament, where Itami eliminated Breeze in a competitive contest, dashing the gorgeous Superstar’s hopes of winning the NXT Title. Furious over his elimination, Breeze fired back weeks later, sneak-attacking Itami backstage after the Japanese Superstar narrowly lost to tag partner Finn Bálor in the tournament’s semifinals.

Though Breeze’s ambush proved effective, now that TakeOver: Rival’s newest matchup is official, could Breeze’s selfie-ready good looks be in jeopardy when he faces the slicing, debilitating kicks of Itami? Or will Breeze, denied an opportunity at the NXT Championship he craves so dearly, crank up the intensity like never before?

Watch this fierce conflict unfold tonight at NXT TakeOver: Rival, airing live on WWE Network at 8pm. ET/5pm. PT.

WWE.com: Daniel Bryan’s 15 Greatest Matches

Daniel Bryan vs. KENTA (Ring of Honor Glory By Honor 2006)

WE SAID: In the final months of his 462-day reign as Ring of Honor Champion, Daniel Bryan defended his title in New York City’s Manhattan Center against a Japanese sensation who would later emerge in WWE NXT as Hideo Itami. Then billing himself with the stylized handle of KENTA, the Pro Wrestling Noah standout possessed a style that was extraordinarily similar to Bryan’s — both favored heavy strikes, wrenching submissions and an unmistakable arrogance — and the resulting battle became one of The American Dragon’s defining bouts as champion.

In a match that “Stone Cold” Steve Austin may have described as “snug,” Bryan and KENTA exchanged blistering kicks that seemed capable of shattering bone. At one point, the champion became so frustrated with the challenger’s constant boots that he began throwing careless headbutts that cautioned his own wellbeing. Despite his recklessness, Bryan ultimately locked Itami in his Cattle Mutilation submission hold — after countless attempts — to secure the victory. It was ugly, but the war instilled a respect in both men that persists to this day. — RYAN MURPHY

BRYAN SAID: “I’d just separated my shoulder and torn a couple of tendons maybe three weeks before going into the Manhattan Center again in New York City. The emotion was very, very high, everybody knew I was hurt, and KENTA kept kicking the crap out of my arm. My sister was in the crowd and she actually cried. I consider wrestling art. You want people to be entertained. If you can, make ‘em laugh, but when you really get ‘em, you make ‘em cry. And that was one of those matches that was able to do that.”

NXT TakeOver: R Evolution Predictions

Jason Albert: I am absolutely, 100 percent taking Itami & Bálor here. I know them well. I think, with all due respect to The Ascension, desperate times call for desperate measures, which is a recipe for making a mistake. WINNERS: Finn Bálor & Hideo Itami

Sara Amato: I’ll go with Hideo & Finn, because they’re both guys I’ve been watching for a very long time. I know what they’re capable of. I wouldn’t want to be The Ascension. They’ve just been needling them, like two tigers in a cage. That’s not a team I’d want to mess with. WINNERS: Finn Bálor & Hideo Itami

Norman Smiley: Up until a couple of months ago, I thought The Ascension was the big dog on the block. However, with them losing the titles to The Lucha Dragons, I see a crack in their armor. I’m going to have to give the nod to Hideo & Finn. WINNERS: Finn Bálor & Hideo Itami

Finn Bálor & Hideo Itami: 3, The Ascension: 0

NXT TakeOver: R Evolution Preview: Hideo Itami & Finn Bálor vs. The Ascension

At WWE NXT TakeOver: R Evolution, two of NXT’s brightest new Superstars, Hideo Itami & Finn Bálor, will join forces to battle the most dominant tag team in NXT history, The Ascension.

This simmering rivalry took root at NXT TakeOver: Fatal 4-Way in September when Konnor & Viktor, incensed over losing the NXT Tag Team Titles earlier that night, spoiled Itami’s introduction to the WWE Universe by ambushing the acclaimed grappler from Japan. Though Itami was able to handle himself that night, The Ascension’s interest in ridding NXT of the newcomer turned into an obsession, with Konnor & Viktor not only viciously attacking Itami but also his mentor and friend, Funaki.

Enter Finn Bálor. With Itami’s back seemingly against the wall, he reached out to the Irish-born Superstar to help him turn back The Ascension, and on the Nov. 6 edition of NXT, they did just that. Mere moments after Itami introduced his friend, the two international fighters cut Konnor & Viktor down to size in an exhilarating blitz.

Anxious to remind everyone — most of all, Itami & Bálor — of their well-deserved bad reputation, The Ascension made a statement weeks later when they trashed two teams, Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady and Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder, in a brutal beatdown and then promised to “rise again.” Then, on the Nov. 27 edition of WWE NXT, The Ascension attacked Bálor during his match against Tyson Kidd, prompting Itami to enter the scene and setting off a wild, pull-apart brawl!

Which team will prevail when NXT TakeOver: R Evolution airs live on WWE Network? Will the dynamic combo of Itami & Bálor prove to be more than Konnor & Viktor can handle, or will they succumb to the Fall of Man? To find out, watch NXT TakeOver: R Evolution on WWE Network Thursday, Dec. 11, at 8pm. ET/5pm. PT.

WWE.com: From Gratitude To The Griddle: Hideo Itami On NXT, IHOP and Adjusting To Life In America

As one of the most anticipated WWE signings in recent history, Hideo Itami’s NXT debut at TakeOver: Fatal 4-Way was met with excitement and jubilation, which was to be expected, but also controversy, as The Ascension tried to spoil the international Superstar’s first appearance.

With a new career chapter under way and two monstrous foes already, WWE.com caught up with Itami while he prepared for his NXT Live Event debut in Jacksonville, Florida. From his first match under WWE contract to his favorite American food, NXT’s resident Japanese legend explains what it’s been like adjusting to life in the U.S.

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WWE.com: Triple H, Daniel Bryan, Cesaro And Seth Rollins On WWE’s Signing Of Kenta

On July 12, 2014, WWE made the huge announcement that the company had signed Japanese wrestling sensation Kenta. WWE Hall of Famer and pop culture icon Hulk Hogan presided over the ceremony, which took place in the ring at a Live Event in Osaka during WWE’s recent Japan Tour. Hogan, who became a star in Japan before Hulkamania ran wild at Madison Square Garden, mentioned Kenta in the same breath as Japanese legends (and Hogan contemporaries) Antonio Inoki, Riki Choshu and Tatsumi Fujinami.

Kenta has the potential to be as transformative as any of those stars. Rising to fame in Pro Wrestling Noah — an organization he helped build alongside owner Mitsuharu Misawa — Kenta caught the attention of American audiences during stints with independent organization Ring of Honor, where he wrestled Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins in acclaimed bouts.

WWE.com spoke with WWE’s COO Triple H, Bryan, Rollins and Cesaro, to learn more about Kenta’s unique style and the global ramifications of him joining WWE.

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