Notable Ring Names: KENTA, Hideo Itami From: Sōka, Saitama, Japan Born: March 12th, 1981 Currently Works For: WWE Mini Bio: One of the most decorated Superstars in the glorious history of Japanese sports-entertainment has found his new home in NXT. The athlete formerly known as KENTA stole headlines when he signed with WWE in summer 2014, an announcement that carried such gravity that WWE Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan traveled to Japan to oversee the ceremonial contract signing. A former four-time tag team champion, three-time junior heavyweight champion and former heavyweight champion in his native land, KENTA debuted at NXT TakeOver: Fatal 4-Way, where he revealed his new ring name, Hideo Itami. Full Bio:View here Stats & Accomplishments:View here
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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.
This week’s edition of NXT took a look at the groundbreaking WrestleMania Week in California for the next generation of Superstars and Divas. The show included a special look at NXT’s sold-out debut in San Jose and the excitement of the NXT Experience at WrestleMania Axxess. But most importantly, it gave the WWE Universe a very personal look at Hideo Itami’s journey to the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
Hideo Itami def. Neville (Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal Qualifying Tournament Semifinals)
To get to the semifinals of the tournament, Itami beat Jason Jordan, while Neville emerged victorious over Kalisto in a battle of high-flyers. Itami and Neville started the match slowly, getting a feel for each other before kicking into high gear. The two exchanged holds on the mat before Itami took control with his trademark kicks.
After retreating to the floor, Neville slowed things down and gained the upper hand. The high-flyer surprisingly kept the bout on the mat, methodically picking Itami apart. Eventually, Itami dug down deep and battled back, stunning Neville with hard-hitting strikes, advancing to the tournament finals with his patented running dropkick.
Hideo Itami def. Finn Bálor (Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal Qualifying Tournament Finals)
These two friends and former tag team partners clashed once again, with bigger stakes than ever before. Their familiarity with each other showed in the opening moments of the match, as Itami and Bálor traded holds, neither Superstar able to gain the upper hand.
The WWE Universe watching the bout at Axxess was split between the two competitors, but in awe of the exciting action unleashed by both men. Though each Superstar seemingly had an answer for every one of his rival’s moves, it was Itami who finally emerged with the upper hand, his fighting spirit allowing him to absorb all of Bálor’s strikes and prevent him from hitting the Coup de Grace. Itami kicked out of a rollup and immediately hit his running dropkick to win the match and earn the right to represent NXT on The Grandest Stage of Them All!
Both Tyler Breeze and Hideo Itami came out of the gates on fire to start this match, with the Japanese star gaining the upper hand with his trademark strikes on the way to winning the first fall with a running dropkick.
Breeze struggled back to his feet at the start of the second fall, with the official holding back an aggressive Itami. However, that proved to be a ruse, as Prince Pretty jumped past the referee and clocked Itami with the Beauty Shot to immediately take the second fall!
Both grapplers were throwing everything they had at each other during the third fall in hopes of winning the match. Itami missed a corner dropkick, while Breeze whiffed on another Beauty Shot. The Japanese star finally tagged Breeze with the corner kick, but after whipping Breeze into the ropes, his vain rival bounced back with a Beauty Shot to take the third fall and the match!
NXT superstar Hideo Itami competed against Tyler Breeze in a one-on-one bout Friday night at an NXT Live Event in San Jose, California. To the surprise of many, Itami finally nailed the “Go To Sleep” finisher on Breeze, a move made famous by CM Punk during his run with World Wrestling Entertainment.
Itami is the originator of the move while wrestling overseas in Japan. Punk brought it over to North America and turned it into one of the more infamous finishers in the company. He had teased using the maneuver before during “NXT: Takeover” specials, but had never actually performed it fully.
Itami had this to say on Twitter following the show:
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!
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!
Hideo Itami and Tyler Breeze continued their longstanding rivalry in this week’s main event. After last week’s sneak attack, Itami was out for payback against Prince Pretty. Breeze, on the other hand, was determined to show that he’s more than just a pretty face. The selfie-obsessed Superstar spent the early moments of the match trying to avoid Itami’s trademark kicks, only to get caught with a knee and a hard clothesline on the arena floor.
Breeze eventually knocked Itami off the top rope and locked on a tight headlock to take control, keeping his rival grounded. Itami rebounded, trading big blows with Prince Pretty. The Japanese sensation looked to be on the verge of victory after sending Breeze face-first into the ring post, but Prince Pretty absorbed a flurry of strikes, evaded a dropkick in the corner and clobbered Itami with the Beauty Shot to earn the victory!
Fresh off his victory over Tyler Breeze at TakeOver: Rival, Hideo Itami was looking to continue his good fortunes against Bull Dempsey, who was hoping to get back on track after falling to Baron Corbin. Despite giving up a good deal of size to the 300-pound Wrecking Ball, Itami did not back down, fighting out of Dempsey’s clutches and chopping the big man down to size with his trademark kicks.
Itami picked up the victory with a flying dropkick, but the Japanese sensation’s night was not over, as Breeze ambushed him with a Supermodel Kick. However, that wasn’t enough to keep Itami down. Itami got up and cut Breeze’s selfie session short with a series of lightning-quick kicks.