Hideo Itami Departs WWE

Hideo Itami aka Kenta
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In recent weeks we have seen a number of WWE talent ask for their releases. From The Revival, to Mike & Maria Kanellis, to Dean Ambrose. Well, you can add Hideo Itami to that list as it has been reported by Fightful.com that he has asked for (and been granted) his release due to not being satisfied from a creative aspect. In a time that the Independent scene is thriving, coupled with the more known wrestling organizations out there such as Ring of Honor (ROH), New Japan Pro Wrestling, IMPACT Wrestling, and the addition of All Elite Wrestling (AEW), it seems there is a trend happening.

Real name Kenta Kobayashi, he began his career with All Japan Pro Wrestling before going to Pro Wrestling NOAH where he is best known. Training under the legendary Kenta Kobashi and Yoshihiro Takayama, KENTA came in with kickboxing and Baseball training, which he would later use in his in-ring arsenal of moves. He would refer his combination of experience coupled with his wrestling training as shoot style. KENTA is a former GHC Heavyweight Champion, a three-time GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion, a three-time Junior Heavyweight tag team Champion and a GHC Tag Team Champion.

Hideo Itami Departs WWE

KENTA made his pro wrestling debut on May 24th, 2000 against an eventual tag team partner and rival, Naomichi Marafuji. While he began his career with AJPW at the time, he left the company for Pro Wrestling NOAH after Mitsuharu Misawa, who was the acting president of the AJPW a the time, decided to formally withdraw from the company and create Pro Wrestling NOAH. Throughout his time in NOAH, KENTA would have memorable matches and feuds with those the likes of Jushin Thunder Liger, Ricky Marvin, Kendo Kashin and Takashi Sugiura at NOAH’s first Tokyo Dome show.

His first major rivalry was in March 2005 against SUWA. Their rivalry would lead to KENTA being successful and earning a shot at the GHC Junior Heavyweight Title against Yoshinobu Kanemaru and win. At one point as the GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion, KENTA would team with NJPW Dojo trainer Katsuyori Shibata – the team would be dubbed “The Takeover” and challenge for the GHC Tag Team Championships.

In 2007, KENTA would work with various talent as a talent exchange was taking place between ROH and NOAH. It was then where we’d see matches between he and competitors such as Bryan Danielson, Davey Richards,  and The Briscoe Brothers (in tag matches). While the majority of his matches in 2007 were in tag matches, KENTA returned to singles action where he would defeat Bryan Danielson and regain the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship. He would later wrestle Marafuji for the World Junior Heavyweight Title in an effort to unify the titles. The match went to a sixty minute draw with each title holder retaining their belts. After a knee injury, KENTA would return and transition to the heavyweight division where he would see success and earn the GHC Heavyweight Title by defeating Takeshi Morishima. His time with NOAH was legendary and made KENTA into a household name throughout the world where he would work with other organizations such as Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw), AAA, and ROH.

Fast forward to his time with the WWE where he debuted in NXT on September 11th of 2014. Coming in under his previous moniker KENTA, a world reknowned international superstar wrestling in companies such as ROH, AJPW, NOAH, NJPW, WXW, AAA, and other companies, the WWE was the pinnacle of his career. Beginning at NXT, KENTA would come in with that same buzz, but would soon after have his name changed to Hideo Itami and would become victim to several injuries.

On May 20th, 2015 Itami was scheduled to compete in a triple threat match against Finn Balor and Tyler Breeze to become the number one contender for the NXT Championship. Unfortunately, Itami suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery and would leave him out of action for more than a year. Itami returned to action in June of 2016 but would shortly suffer another injury after what seemed to be a botched suplex from Riddick Moss during a live event for NXT.

Itami returned to action on November of 2017 and was soon announced as a member of the 205 Live brand where he would compete as part of the Cruiserweights on Monday Night Raw. In December of 2017 on an episode of 205 Live, Itami performed his GTS finisher on Brian Kendrick which would leave Kendrick injured from the manuever. Itami would cease from using the finisher again with the WWE.

On September 1st, 2018, the Japanese legend would return to Pro Wrestling NOAH as a deal was worked out between NOAH and the WWE for him to wrestle at the company’s 25th Anniversary show titled “NOAH Naomichi Marafuji 20th Anniversary Show”. Under his WWE name Itami, he would do battle with NOAH legend Naomichi Marafuji. It was in that match where we would see the great KENTA compete.

While it is unfortunate to see the Japanese sensation ask for his release, it will be interesting to see what is on the horizon for him with the wrestling scene being as rich as it is outside of the WWE in the present day.