I never really watched NJPW like I have WWE so other than YouTube clips, Hideo Itami was pretty much new to me when he joined WWE. Having watched him for a few months in NXT and watching this weeks Wrestlemania Axxess NXT which was pretty much a special on Hideo’s short time in WWE so far I have to say like everyone else I am extremely impressed. It’s not his in-ring ability that makes him stand out for me because new and young talent from all over the world is something that WWE has in abundance at the moment both on the main roster and in NXT. What makes Hideo different for me is something that Triple H talked about when Hideo was first signed and what Jason Albert says about him on commentary every week. He comes across as someone very humble and very proud to perform. I know 90% of them are but you really do feel it with Hideo every time he’s in the ring. He has an air of confidence about him but I think that comes from how hard he’s worked to perfect what he does in the ring and the instant response he gets from the fans. At the same time though it’s like he feels privileged to get to do what he does everyday and the fans appreciate that about him.
The only downside to Itami is that WWE like people with good mic skills and Itami’s English isn’t that great. However it has improved significantly since he first signed with WWE so he has clearly been practicing that as well. I would give him an NXT Title run including at least another 6 months in NXT before moving him up to the main roster but it will be interesting to see if they leave him be because he is clearly over enough with the fans or give him a manager like they did with Rusev. Although having a face with a manager is quite a rarity these days and I really can’t see Itami as a heel; a lot can chance in a short space of time in wrestling though.