One of the most tragic things to see in the world of pro-wrestling is to see a wrestler get injured. Whether you like or hate a talent, we know they’re all playing characters at the end of the day. We like to escape reality by thinking they are the character they are on television each and every day. That tends not be the case, of course. That means seeing a wrestler go down due to an injury can be upsetting to see.
Take Seth Rollins, for instance, a known heel who many despised due to his actions with The Authority. However, the moment he went down, wishes for a speedy recovery were sent by WWE fans the entire time Rollins was in recovery. The roof even exploded with cheers the moment he came back to lay out Roman Reigns at WWE Extreme Rules a little while back. At the end of the day, we respect what workers can do in the ring regardless of our feeling about their character.
That said, seeing someone like Hideo Itami go down while he was starting to get hot was horrible to see. He suffered a shoulder injury which initially called for a six to eight month recovery time. Both Cesaro and Sami Zayn went down with shoulder injuries, as well, and both returned within the six to eight month timetable. Meanwhile, Hideo just returned to the ring this past week after a year away from the WWE.
So what took so long? Complications, it seems. The Inquisitr’s writer, Louie Babcock, wrote an excellent article on the injury that is worthy of checking out. Before Itami went down to injury, there were rumored plans on the books for him. WWE was set to go to Japan last year, and with Brock Lesnar expected to be part of the tour, the company did a live special on the WWE Network called “Beast in the East.” It was there that WWE had rumored plans to have Hideo Itami win the NXT Championship from Kevin Owens.
It made all the sense in the world too. WWE’s popular Japanese talent winning the NXT Title in Japan? You could not ask for a better story. However, things did not go down that way, and WWE went with Finn Balor in that position. Interestingly, Hideo was part of a #1 contender triple threat before he got hurt. The day of the show, they did a storyline where he was attacked. Some people thought it was Kevin Owens. Meanwhile, others point to the two men in the match with Hideo, that being Tyler Breeze and Finn Balor himself.
The problem is that WWE may not play up this story like we assumed they would. Balor vs. Itami was on the books before it was found that Itami needed more time to heal, so it does seem like they were planning for him to be the attacker. However, the WWE is in a bit of a pickle as everyone in the storyline will be heading to the main roster soon.
According to Daily Wrestling News, due to the likes of Balor, Samoa Joe, and others heading to the main roster, WWE wants to make Hideo Itami one of the top stars of NXT once again. Of course, the depth of the NXT roster will go down, and the WWE happens to be signing talent left and right to hopefully help with the loss of so many stars. It was made clear at the WWE Draft meetings that the company wants to focus on the new stars coming up from NXT to help fill in the holes with the brand split.
That means Hideo Itami could be NXT Champion this year, but it also means he will be responsible for making sure the NXT brand stays as popular as it is now. With the likes of Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, and Bayley all headed up before the Fall ends, Itami must help with NXT star power. While WWE has gone out and signed people like Bobby Roode and Eric Young, they will only be a small help. So we very well could be seeing others signed before too long to help with NXT. Expect to see more wrestlers from the Cruiserweight Classic coming in than anywhere else.
[image via WWE]