WWE: Hideo Itami Has Finally Found His Groove on 205 Live


Hideo Itami’s journey in WWE has been full of false starts and bad luck, but on 205 Live, it finally feels like everything is clicking in place for him.

Back in 2015, NXT had their first attempt at a parking lot mystery in order to write off Hideo Itami after his shoulder was injured at a house show before NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable. Possibilities ranged, but it was clear that the mystery wouldn’t be solved until Hideo came back.

As it turns out, it would never be solved at all.

In the era of NXT before Shinsuke Nakamura, Asuka, Andrade “Cien” Almas, and the entire UK division, Hideo Itami was the first big international signing to the yellow brand. The hype was real and he very much lived up to it in the first few months he was involved, even teaming up with a debuting Finn Balor to beat down The Ascension and making his debut at WrestleMania 31 in the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal.

But then, his shoulder injury happened and a series of bad luck events that spanned two years that followed.

What was supposed to be a seven month injury stretched to thirteen as his shoulder required a second surgery. You can still see the gnarly scar on his right shoulder.

He made it back on the roster in time for NXT Takeover Brooklyn 2 and hit Austin Aries with a Go 2 Sleep that made everyone in the Barclays Center pop. He was even announced for the second Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic in a team with Kota Ibushi, a team that was sure to leave a mark both physically and mentally.

Then Hideo got spiked on his neck by Riddick Moss at a house show and was put back on the shelf for several months while he healed. Hideo Itami was back at square one as the mystery of who attacked Hideo quietly dropped. All possibilities had moved on and everyone else that had been signed in the wake of Hideo’s debut had too.

He finally managed to get his NXT Championship match, but it felt like an afterthought in the middle of a boring run with Bobby Roode. He did eventually have barnburners with Kassius Ohno and Aleister Black as he began his vicious quest for respect, but he quietly graduated from NXT and moved onto 205 Live before any real results could be seen from it.

Credit: WWE.com

It’s taken a minute, but Itami really has found his groove on 205 Live that he wasn’t really afforded in NXT for a number of reasons. Initially slated into a tag team with Akira Tozawa as the division hit a soft reboot in the wake of Enzo Amore’s firing, he eventually broke off and started his quest for respect all over again.

However, it was here he found an edge of viciousness that had not been previously seen. In matches against Mustafa Ali, Cedric Alexander and a hell of a fatal four way that included himself, Ali, TJP and Drew Gulak, Itami took himself to the next level of being a destructive force on the brand similar to Neville and Gulak. He added extra salt in the wound by bragging about taking out the heart of 205 Live and treating local North Carolina wrestler Trent Newman like his own personal plaything.

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Hideo Itami’s career in WWE has been full of fits and starts and one mystery that may never been solved, but it feels like he’s finally found his spot as an intense and cruel heel who demands respect, but gives none. Only time will tell if it’ll give him the championship prize he has long chased, but it will definitely be well deserved if it does.