Kenta Kobayashi, also known as KENTA, is a Japanese professional wrestler who is currently signed to New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) and is a member of the Bullet Club stable. Known for his time in Pro Wrestling NOAH, KENTA is a former one-time GHC Heavyweight Champion, three-time GHC Jr. Heavyweight Champion, three-time GHC Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champion, one-time GHC Tag Team Champion. KENTA is also the winner of the 2012 Global League and 2013 Global Tag League tournaments, as well.
KENTA is also well-knowm for his time with WWE where he performed for the NXT brand and the WWE Cruiserweight Division, 205 Live. KENTA is also well known for his work with All Japan Pro Wrestling and Ring of Honor Wrestling.
All Japan Pro Wrestling
KENTA made his professional wrestling debut on May 24, 2000 against Naomichi Marufuji in AJPW where he competed in the Jr. Heavyweight Division.
Pro Wrestling NOAH
In 2001, KENTA made his debut for Pro Wrestling NOAH where he won several major accomplishments. KENTA initially started out as a Jr. Heavyweight in NOAH and won the GHC Jr. Heavyweight and Jr. Tag Team Championships on three occasions. He wont he GHC Jr. Tag Team Championships with Naomichi Marufuji, Taiji Ishimori, and Yoshinobu Kanemaru.
In 2011, KENTA made his transition to the heavyweight division where he won the GHC Tag Team Championships with Maybach Taniguchi. At Great Voyage 2013, KENTA defeated Takeshi Morishima to win the GHC Heavyweight Championship.
In May 17, 2014, KENTA departed from Pro Wrestling NOAH after wrestling his farewell match for the promotion.
Ring of Honor
While competing for Pro Wrestling NOAH, KENTA was also allowed to compete in the United States and at ROH: Final Battle 2005, he made his debut for Ring of Honor defending the GHC Jr. Heavyweight Championship against Low Ki.
During his time with Ring of Honor, KENTA wrestled the likes of Samoa Joe, Davey Richards, Bryan Danielson, and Nigel McGuinness. In ROH, KENTA also challenged Danielson for the ROH World Championship and also wrestled Mitsuharu Misawa for the GHC Heavyweight Championship.
In 2009, KENTA made his final appearances for Ring of Honor.
In 2014, KENTA, after his departure from NOAH, signed with WWE and started competing for the NXT brand under the name of Hideo Itami. In his first feud, Itami teamed up with the debuting Finn Balor as the duo defeated The Ascension. Itami then exchanged victories with Tyler Breeze and at WrestleMania 31, he made his main roster in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
In 2017, at NXT TakeOver: Chicago, Itami unsuccessfully challenged Bobby Roode for the NXT Champion. At NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III, Itami, who had recently turned heel, faced and lost to Aleister Black. In his last match for NXT, Itami faced Fabian Aichner at a live event on December 16.
205 Live and main roster
On November 21, 2017, Hideo Itami was announced as the newest addition to the WWE 205 Live roster. On December 18, Itami made his main roster debut when he came to the aid of Finn Balor against the duo of Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas.
On December 25 episode of Raw, Itami defeated The Brian Kendrick, in a match where the latter would suffer an injury following the Go to Sleep. This would eventually lead to a feud between Itami and Kendrick's tag team partner Gentleman Jack Gallagher. During his time with the 205 Live division, Itami would face the likes of Roderick Strong, Ali, Buddy Murphy, Gran Metalik and several other notable names as well.
On January 29, 2019, it was reported that Itami had requested his release from WWE after a five-year run with the company. The same day, Itami lost to Akira Tozawa on 205 Live and following the match, several superstars of the WWE roster said goodbye to Itami on social media. On February 4, 2019, the WWE Performance Center YouTube channel released a documentary on Itami's last week in WWE and the documentary also featured a clip of Itami struggling to learn and speak English.
New Japan Pro Wrestling
On June 9, 2019 at Dominion 6.9 at the Osaka-jo Hall, KENTA made a surprise appearance in New Japan Pro Wrestling with former tag team partner Katsuyori Shibata as KENTA made his promotional debut and announced his participation in the G1 Climax 29. In his first match for NJPW, KENTA defeated Kota Ibushi in Dallas and eventually secured wins over the likes of Hiroshi Tanahashi, Lance Archer, and Evil. KENTA suffered his first loss in NJPW when he lost to IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada.
On the final night of the G1 Climax 29, KENTA turned his back on CHAOS members Yoshi-Hashi and Tomohiro Ishii during a six-man tag team match against The Bullet Club (Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, and Bad Luck Fale). As KENTA took to the microphone and tried to explain his actions, he was attacked by Shibata, however, the rest of the Bullet Club members ambushed him. KENTA was shortly confirmed as the newest member of the Bullet Club. At Royal Quest, KENTA won his first title in NJPW when he defeated Tomohiro Ishii to win the NEVER Openweight Championship.