WWE.com: Hideo Itami On His Hard Road Back To NXT From Injury

After being forced out of action for nearly a year and a half, Hideo Itami made his long-awaited return to an NXT ring several weeks ago. As one of Japan’s biggest stars, Itami’s decision to sign with WWE NXT in summer 2014 made headlines all over the world. Now, he’s back in the headlines by returning to the ring in the hopes of picking up right where he left off. This week, Itami sat down with WWE.com to discuss his return, the frustrations of being injured and his future goals.

WWE.COM: How did it feel to finally return to an NXT ring?

ITAMI: I’m so happy to be back. Words cannot explain how much it meant. But my goal is not just to be back in action; I’m also focused on reaching the next level.

WWE.COM: For those who were unfamiliar with your shoulder injury, what exactly happened?

ITAMI: I suffered a dislocated shoulder, which was a very tough injury. I have torn my ACLs in both knees and I’ve broken an ankle, but this is the longest I’ve ever been out of action in my entire career. It was the toughest injury of my life.

WWE.COM: I understand you had two different surgeries, which extended your time away from the ring, right?

ITAMI: Yes, I had the first surgery in May 2015 and a second one in February 2016. When I first suffered the injury, I thought I was only going to be out for six months.

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NXT Results and Photos – August 17th 2016

Live Event Digitals > August 17th, 2016
Screen Captures > August 17th, 2016

Hideo Itami def. Mustafa Ali

Hideo Itami didn’t lose a beat in his return to the ring two weeks ago, defeating Sean Maluta in impressive fashion. Itami was back inside the squared circle putting his rebuilt shoulder to the test against another Cruiserweight Classic competitor, Mustafa Ali, and he did not disappoint.

It‘s easy to see why Ali was granted the opportunity to compete in this match, as the lightning-quick Pakistani competitor pulled off a number of impressive moves against Itami. However, the Japanese Superstar continued to show he is fully recovered from his devastating shoulder injury, defeating Ali behind a litany of strikes, including a running knee for the pinfall.

Video: What’s Next For Hideo Itami?

NXT Results and Photos – August 3rd 2016

Live Event Digitals > August 3rd, 2016
Screen Captures > August 3rd, 2016

Hideo Itami def. Sean Maluta

Hideo Itami made his long-awaited return to the ring and the Japanese striker did not disappoint. In his first match back in more than a year, Itami was faced with newcomer Sean Maluta, who was making his NXT debut after being knocked out of the first round of the Cruiserweight Classic by tournament favorite Kota Ibushi. On hand to witness the contest were Maluta’s fellow Cruiserweight Classic competitors Zack Sabre Jr., Tony Nese and Drew Gulak, all of whom are going on to the tournament’s second round.

Inside the squared circle, in the face of Maluta’s aggressive attack, Itami showed little to no signs of ring rust, unleashing his rapid-fire strikes on an overwhelmed Maluta. In the end, Itami prevailed after hitting a running knee for the pinfall.

Video: Hideo Itami Returns To NXT!

Hideo Itami Returns To The Ring In Winter Haven

Last night, Hideo Itami finally made his in-ring return, during a live NXT show in Winter Haven. For the first time in over a year, Hideo took part in a competitive match, where he was partnered with TM61 and defeated the team of Samoa Joe, Tino Sabbatelli & Wesley Blake.

Welcome back Hideo!

Your eyes aren't deceiving you, #HideoItami is BACK! #NXTWinterHaven

A photo posted by WWE NXT (@wwenxt) on

Asuka Mentions Hideo In Recent Interview With Enuhito.com

In a recent interview with Enuhito.com current NXT Women’s Champion, Askua discussed a range of topics including, her life in the US, being apart of the NXT roster as well as her relationship with the other Japanese stars in NXT.

Do you have any communication with other Japanese superstars?

Asuka: I am in the same promo class with Hideo. We need to do promos in front of other superstars and coaches, but it always turns out to be like a comedy show. Shinsuke took me out to the beach with other superstars. Shinsuke gives me advices after checking my matches.


Meet Hideo Itami At WrestleMania Axxess

Not only have WWE.com released the general admission appearances for this year’s WrestleMania Axxess, Hideo has also announced that he will be attending, check below for the details.

Sunday, April 3

8 a.m. – WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day, Nikki & Brie Bella, Edge, Booker T, Mark Henry, Alundra Blayze, Tyler Breeze, Samoa Joe, Hideo Itami and more

So if you’re in Dallas for WrestleMania week (you lucky people!) be sure not to miss your chance to meet Hideo!

WWE.com: The 10 Biggest Signings In WWE History

#8. Hideo Itami

When he was known as KENTA, this Japanese grappling expert was credited as both the inspiration and the greatest foil of mat masters like Daniel Bryan. And when WWE signed him, it was, to put it mildly, a very big deal. Interviews were commissioned, photos were taken, tweets were tweeted and congratulations were given, right up until the day he debuted. Independent acquisitions like Itami have become somewhat commonplace in NXT these days, though both his introduction — William Regal brought him out as KENTA and he became Hideo Itami before our eyes — and its buildup were unprecedented.