With rumors circulating that Hideo Itami‘s WWE contract is nearing its end and that he is (allegedly) considering leaving, here’s a look at where he could go after WWE, why he might choose to go there, and what the company could use him for.
Return to NOAH
A return of the prodigal son (as KENTA, he was one of NOAH’s biggest stars) would undoubtedly do big business for the struggling NOAH who have been good to great for the last year but are failing to gain any major buzz. A return of his amazing tag team with Naomichi Marufuji would certainly be worth watching as well as a whole heap of potentially great matches with Marufuji, Go Shiozaki, Takeshi Sugiura and many more of the NOAH talents.
The working agreement between NOAH and Impact would see Impact try to use Itami as much as possible – or they could even try to sign him up exclusively. As we all know the former TNA, and Jeff Jarrett in particular, LOVE ex-WWE guys and Itami would be a major coup in a similar vein to capturing Drew Galloway and Alberto El Patron. Itami would receive a major push and would really help inject excitement into the average weekly TV that Impact produces, the fact that they could offer decent money and a part time schedule would surely sweeten the deal.
Ring Of Honor
How poetic would it be for Itami to return to the company that helped make him a star in America where he had a great run from 2006-2009, always putting on one of the best matches of any card he was on. ROH could use a wrestler like him to continue the growth they have seen in business recently and maybe even establish themselves as the clear number two behind the WWE
There is the option of becoming a freelance worker and touring the indies in both America and Japan where Itami would surely prove to be a big draw. Itami could easily split his time between Japan and America, as he would surely be in demand everywhere. Itami is at the point though where stability is what he wants and life on the indies is anything but.
New Japan Pro Wrestling
This is the option that has every hardcore fan salivating with the opportunity to see some 5-star classics between Itami and New Japan’s extremely talented roster (COUGH Takahashi COUGH). Itami would be happy to sign for the biggest company in Japan and compete on the big stage in his home country and NJPW could use him for their American expansion as fans would be more familiar with him than most Japanese talents. If used right he could also easily elevate the OPENWEIGHT or Junior Heavyweight titles to the next level, giving NJPW another title that can draw like their IC title.
In an interview released by WWE before NXT TV tonight, Itami puts these rumors to sleep. The WWE knows talent when they see it and now more than ever they are in need of talent with three separate brands full of superstars to fill, and Itami is really, really good. They have also booked him well and the only reason he is where he is is because of injuries really – surely Itami would love to make it in the WWE and they seem to be behind pushing him as an important talent. Lets be honest – homesickness is easily cured by guaranteed money that WWE can offer. There could also be a situation where WWE can forcibly trigger an extension due to injuries like with Rey Mysterio.
We may not know what happens with Itami for a few more months, but whatever he decides, he has the world at his feet as there would be no shortage of companies seeking his signature. What do you think Itami’s next move will be?
Main Photo: WWE