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By Mike Johnson on 2019-01-29 23:54:00

Hideo Itami, aka KENTA, finished up officially with World Wrestling Entertainment at last night's Smackdown taping in Phoenix, Arizona, has confirmed.  The word making the rounds is that Itami requested his release from the company.

The former Pro Wrestling NOAH Global Honored Crown Champion signed with WWE in July 2014 with a big ceremony presided over by Hulk Hogan.  Rechristened Hideo Itami, he joined WWE NXT with a lot of fanfare and even competed in the 2015 Andre the Giant Battle Royal at Wrestlemania 31 in Santa Clara, California.   

Unfortunately, he had issues transitioning over to the WWE style initially and then found himself out of the ring with a bad shoulder injury that required surgery.  The recovery kept Itami out of the ring from May 2015 through June 2016.   Itami returned to NXT TV in April 2017, soon feuding with then-NXT Champion Bobby Roode, Kassius Ohno and then Aleister Black.

Itami was called up to become a member of the 205 Live roster in November 2017 and has been a featured competitor for WWE's Cruiserweight brand.  At the Royal Rumble PPV over the weekend, Itami was pinned by Cruiserweight Champion Buddy Murphy.  

At 37 years old, Itami would certainly be a strong pickup for another promotion.  He has a long history with Ring of Honor (including some classic bouts with Bryan Danielson) and would certainly be in great demand back home in Japan, where he has a storied history and lots of fresh potential matches in New Japan, NOAH or All Japan.  Of course, with All Elite Wrestling signing talent, one would think Itami would certainly add to the depth of that promotion as well.

Itami changed his social media accounts back to his former ring name, KENTA, over the course of the last day.

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