Notable Ring Names: KENTA, Hideo Itami From: Sōka, Saitama, Japan Born: March 12th, 1981 Currently Works For: WWE (In NXT) 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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Hideo Itami hoped for a fair singles match against Viktor after last week’s vicious assault. He got his wish, as Viktor showed up for the bout alone. The two Superstars wasted no time trading blows, with Viktor getting the early advantage.
Itami rebounded and took control, but the Japanese star was soon distracted, as Konnor emerged on the stage, battering Itami’s friend and mentor, Funaki. Itami still managed to pick up the victory with a running kick to the head, but was soon on the end of another two-on-one beatdown. The Ascension tied Itami in the ropes as Funaki crawled to the ring to try and save him, but Konnor & Viktor forced Hideo to watch as they bulldozed his mentor with the Fall of Man. The NXT Universe was hushed as WWE’s medical staff rushed to Funaki and Itami’s aid.
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.
Before the bell could even ring in what was supposed to be a singles match between Viktor and Itami, both Viktor and Konnor attacked Itami, stomping him into the canvas. Every NXT official rushed to the ring to try to stop the former NXT Tag Team Champions, but The Ascension could not be halted until the duo laid out Itami with a vicious double-team maneuver. The NXT Universe was hushed as medical personnel attended to the dazed Itami. Later on in the night, Hideo’s good friend and former WWE Superstar Funaki arrived to let Itami know that he has his back.
The Ascension were out to reclaim the NXT Tag Team Titles, after The Lucha Dragons ended their 344-day reign at TakeOver. Konnor wasted no time after the bell, pummeling Sin Cara into the canvas. The Lucha Dragons rebounded and stayed one step ahead of The Ascension with their patented lucha libre offense.
Viktor and Konnor eventually forced their way onto offense, overpowering the smaller champions. The challengers looked to have the championship within their grasps, when Hideo Itami entered the arena! The Ascension was distracted by the presence of their new rival, which allowed Kalisto to hit Salida del Sol on Viktor to retain the titles! Konnor rushed after Itami, but the Japanese star clobbered him with a lightning-quick combination of kicks that echoed throughout the arena.
After making a statement last week at TakeOver, Hideo Itami made his official in-ring debut this week, taking on Justin Gabriel. The South African daredevil looked to have the upper hand on Itami, though the newcomer tagged Gabriel with a few hard kicks to remind him that he wasn’t in the ring with a rookie. Itami took control of the bout and looked confident doing so, as he rocked Gabriel with another devastating series of kicks, capped off with a vicious double stomp off the top rope to earn his first victory in NXT. The celebration didn’t last long, as The Ascension blindsided Itami and laid him out with the Fall of Man!
As WWE fans await the in-ring debuts of international Superstars Fergal Devitt and the wrestler formerly known as KENTA, Hideo Itami, and independent wrestling demigod Kevin Steen, WWE.com sat down with the NXT Five inside the place they call home — the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Fla. — for a roundtable discussion to learn about their connections to each other inside the ring and out.
Read on as they discuss their struggles journeying to WWE, why WWE has always been the final destination, and the heavy duty that comes with being the new guard.
International Superstar KENTA made his long-awaited arrival to NXT during TakeOver, being welcomed by William Regal. With the world watching, including his home country of Japan, KENTA made his intentions clear. Speaking in Japanese and English, he first said that from now on, he will be known as Hideo Itami, in tribute to one of his heroes.
Itami said his first goal in WWE is to become NXT Champion. Before he could expound any further, The Ascension rushed to the ring and attacked him! The furious former champions demanded an immediate rematch. However, before Regal could rule, Itami sent Konnor & Viktor retreating with a flurry of heavy-hitting kicks, letting the world know that he won’t be pushed around. Later that night, Regal announced that Itami will make his in-ring debut next week on NXT!
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.
STAMFORD, Conn. – WWE today announced it has signed Kenta, one of Japan’s biggest stars, to its NXT division. The announcement took place during a signing ceremony at a WWE Live Event in Osaka, Japan with WWE icon and Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan presiding.
Kenta’s intense and straightforward in-ring style has led to his success in Japan, as well as during visits to the U.S. He is expected to reach new heights of global success with WWE.
“Kenta is an incredible performer who brings the crowd to its feet when he steps into the ring,” said Paul Levesque, Executive Vice President, Talent, Creative and Live Events, WWE. “WWE’s signing of Kenta reflects our continued dedication to creating a diverse roster that appeals to our global fan base.”
“I am humbled to join WWE’s NXT division and look forward to honing my craft with the global leader in sports-entertainment,” said Kenta.
Kenta will relocate to Orlando, Florida, where he will train at WWE’s state-of-the-art Performance Center to enhance his talents both athletically and creatively.