WWE News: Discouraging Update On The Status Of NXT Superstar Hideo Itami

It’s been easy to forget about Hideo Itami lately. For one, the Japanese star, and current member of the NXT roster, has been out of action due to injury since May of 2015. And two, in his absence, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Finn Balor, and Samoa Joe have all carried the banner of the brand without Itami. The NXT product hasn’t suffered, but with call-ups likely around the corner, it never hurts to have reinforcements lying in wait.

Other reinforcements in the form of Eric Young and Bobby Roode appear close in a more permanent sense. Triple H confirmed on his Tuesday conference call that negotiations with the former TNA stars were in advanced stages, and that he hoped deals would be finalized soon. Hunter also acknowledged Itami’s fellow countryman, Shinsuke Nakamura, during the call, saying he expects Nakamura to be a key player with the company. But the update on Hideo Itami wasn’t so positive.

During Triple H’s conference call, which was held to help promote Wednesday’s WWE Network special, WWE NXT Takeover: The End, The Game was asked about Hideo Itami’s progress (Thanks to Uproxx for the transcription).

“Without getting into his personal medical stuff, he has put out a statement recently saying ‘See You Soon.’… Hideo had some issues with scar tissue along the way and some mobility issues, and when he returns, I want him to be a healthy return and a full return. Not a, almost, kind of was ready return. So I would rather see him take his time and be a few months longer than we anticipated, but when it’s right, he’ll be back. Nothing has changed for me with Hideo as far as how I feel about him as a performer. I’m very excited for him to come back and I think he’s another guy that could make a big difference.”

Hideo Itami’s return has already been delayed “a few months longer than we anticipated,” as the original prognostication slated Itami to miss six months. A six-month absence from the original shoulder injury would have brought him back to the ring this past January. But during that half-year evaluation, it became apparent that he still was experiencing mobility issues and his return was still way off.

Coming back from injuries too soon have come back to haunt both current and former superstars in the past, and Triple H was quick to point out that they’re being extra careful with bringing Itami back. The WWE has invested a lot in luring Hideo to the United States, and creative plans for his eventual spot on the main roster would have resulted in another significant investment. Suffice to say, a healthy Hideo Itami is best for the WWE’s bottom line and they aren’t going to take any more chances with his well-being.

The stars have never quite aligned for Hideo Itami and the aforementioned Shinsuke Nakamura to engage in a singles feud that would certainly be a major draw. In Japan, they’ve only ever met in tag team matches, but when Nakamura finally agreed to a deal with the WWE, many fans thought another dream match on American soil was within reach. You’d have to hope that a WWE showdown is an inevitability, but with Itami’s injury combined with the likelihood that Nakamura will be called up when the brand extension is initiated, that encounter is likely to be delayed even longer. The same might be said for Finn Balor and Samoa Joe.

Hideo Itami does own one distinction that none of his other fellow NXT talent can claim, and that’s a WrestleMania moment. Itami earned a spot in the second Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal during the spectacle in Santa Clara. Hopefully, Hideo will be healed in time to add to his collection of ‘Mania moments before too long.

[Image via WWE]

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