Hideo Itami has not been very fortunate during his career in WWE. After debuting in NXT, it seemed as if his career was going to be as successful as it was while he competed for Pro Wrestling NOAH. The Japanese star was on a path to becoming a star in NXT, and a championship reign did not seem too distant. Itami was even picked to represent NXT during the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 31.
Grateful for the opportunity, Itami was applauded by fellow competitors backstage after his exhibition at the grandest stage in all of pro wrestling. Feeding from the energy that night gave him, he was set on earning his stripes in NXT in order to have a permanent main roster spot. Unfortunately, this goal was suddenly halted. Itami suffered a shoulder injury soon after, and was out of in-ring competition for over a year.
Upon his return to NXT, the talent pool was a bit different than when he left. Instead of names such as Finn Balor, Sami Zayn, and Baron Corbin leading the pack, Shinsuke Nakamura, Austin Aries, Bobby Roode, and Samoa Joe, were all fighting for that top spot. This left Itami with seemingly a tougher hill to climb. Despite this, Itami cemented himself once again as a focal point of NXT, appearing after a match between Austin Aries and No Way Jose at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II. Itami once again commanded his presence to be felt. This time, by bringing back the GTS, a move which he created but was used in the WWE by CM Punk.
Unfortunately, it was recently reported that Itami was once again injured during an NXT match. While the time away from the ring is not expected to be as long as his initial absence, he will indeed miss his scheduled appearance in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic with partner Kota Ibushi. This left Ibushi without a partner, despite him still wanting to be in the tournament.
Via Twitter, General Manager William Regal has just announced Itami’s replacement: none other than WWE Cruiserweight Champion TJ Perkins.
During the Cruiserweight Classic heavily-favored Ibushi was shockingly eliminated by Perkins, who went on to eventually win the tournament and the championship. It should be very interesting to see how this duo work together in their first match. Hopefully, it does experience the same fate as Andrade “Cien” Almas attacking Cedric Alexander, and Bobby Roode abandoning Tye Dillinger.