In 2015, WWE saw a lot of their best talent go down with injuries from Cesaro and Seth Rollins to even Randy Orton. WWE NXT also lost a big name in Sami Zayn, who was going to head to the main roster but was technically an NXT talent when he went down to his injury. Another from NXT who went down was Japanese star Hideo Itami. Itami was known as one of the best wrestlers in the world before he came to WWE, and the company planned to push him big time in 2015.
They had him work in WrestleMania 31, marking his first WrestleMania appearance. Then there was a plan for him to win the NXT Championship when the company went to Japan last July. The plan was set for him to work a match with Finn Balor and Tyler Breeze at Takeover. The winner of the match would be the No. 1 contender for the NXT Title. Right before this happened, Hideo got hurt, and WWE had to write him out the day of the event as an attack. Balor and Breeze would end up fighting in the match where, of course, Balor was victorious.
Balor would go on to win the NXT Championship in Japan with Itami watching. The storyline rumored for Itami in his return was that he would find out who attacked him and enter a storyline with that man. While WWE teased the likes of Tyler Breeze and Kevin Owens, the rumor was that WWE wanted to put Balor in as the attacker. He is the one who benefited the most from Itami going down.
Plans may change due to the fact that WWE is calling Balor up to the main roster soon. However, all the people who make sense for the attack have been called up, so some think Itami will be too. Regardless, his return was highly anticipated, but no one knew when he would be coming back.
He was supposed to return earlier this year, around January. However, he had complications and had to miss even more time. According to the Daily Wrestling News, Hideo Itami is expected to return to the ring in the next few weeks. That could mean a return at NXT Takeover, which interestingly does occur in the next few weeks. WWE could always have him work the tapings after and bypass Takeover, but we’ll have to wait and see there.
The good news here is that Hideo Itami is coming back after a year of missed time. The fans miss him greatly, and his return has been one of the big question marks for even wrestling experts. We all knew he was unable to return for so long, but the amount of time was always a wonder. The reason is due to the healing process, as many heal differently. Hideo missed so much time due to a shoulder injury, the same sort of thing Sami Zayn and Cesaro missed time for.
Cesaro and Zayn both returned within six to eight months, the normal amount of time one misses with such an issue. However, Hideo Itami missed a year, and the reason might very well have to do with his long-term Japanese wrestling career. Often times, the biggest worry among wrestlers is that once they’re opened up, surgeons will find many other issues on top of the one they knew about. It can throw off recovery big time. Other times, a recovery may come with complications like the case of Daniel Bryan for instance. Independent workers are at the most risk for things like this.
Hideo Itami’s return will be big. The only question about his comeback is who he will go after when he does step back into the ring. We know the attacker has to be confronted. With the most likely culprits on the main roster (or heading to it) and the WWE Draft upcoming, many assume that Itami may make his return to the main roster and not with NXT. However, don’t rule out an NXT return, especially if Finn Balor sticks around even longer.
[Image via WWE]