WWE throughout the years was able to compile a laundry list of excellent Japanese superstars. Below is a list of WWE’s “best exports” from Japan:
- The Great Muta
- Mr. Fuji
- Antonio Inoki
- Koji Katao
- Ultimo Dragon
Add another man to the list of Japanese superstars, as the WWE announced the emphatic signing of Japanese superstar KENTA Kobayashi to their NXT division.
“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.”
Triple H commented, “Kenta is an incredible performer who brings the crowd to its feet when he steps into the ring.” Paul Levesque, Executive Vice President, Talent, Creative and Live Events, WWE, said, “WWE’s signing of Kenta reflects our continued dedication to creating a diverse roster that appeals to our global fan base.”
After the initiation, the 33-year old wrestler talked about wanting to come to the biggest sports entertainment company on the globe. He also said he’s very excited to take his talents to the United States. He became famous from his work with Pro Wrestling Noah and Ring of Honor. In January, he came to WWE for a tryout only looking to fulfill a dream by partaking in a chance to wrestle for the global giant. Six months later, his dream came to fruition.
The interesting way WWE handled his signing still intrigues the slightest of professional wrestling fans. First, they scheduled a Japanese tour right around the rumored time he was going to sign. Then, WWE had Hulk Hogan appear on the tour, which teased something big was going to happen. To put the icing on the cake, Hogan appeared on the WWE Instagram page teasing a major Japanese superstar was signing with the company.
With Jimmy Hart in the ring, Hulk Hogan officially welcomed Kenta to the WWE, while in Osaka, Japan.
WWE is attempting to become more diverse than they already are. As a business, it’s a perfect move and that doesn’t include the success KENTA will have here. His in-ring style mimics a man that just left the WWE. That man is CM Punk. It was even an issue that Punk stole the “GTS” from KENTA. If you are a fan of Punk’s wrestling style, then KENTA will fill that void swiftly.
Unfortunately, WWE hasn’t appealed heavily towards the Japanese community in recent years. Yoshi Tatsu struck out, as he was released by the company a few months ago. Since his initial debut on ECW, a spark for his career was nowhere to be found.
Now, WWE can cherish the fact that KENTA will be a huge success for the company that includes marketability and wrestling. He will be able to connect Japan with the WWE, quite like Yokozuna did before. KENTA is expected to make his NXT debut in the coming months.
[Images via Bleacher Report and WWE’s Instagram]