Update on Hideo Itami’s WWE Return

It’s been over a year since Hideo Itami was taken out at the NXT Takeover Unstoppable event last May. The legitimate reason was a major shoulder injury that required surgery. He still hasn’t been in a match on NXT in over a year, but that may change soon.

It was reported in this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter by Dave Meltzer that Itami should be returning within the next few weeks. It was noted that the recovery from his first surgery did not go well and that’s why his recovery has taken so long. Sami Zayn had a shoulder injury around the same time as him and returned action about six months ago. Everybody is different, though, in terms of the types of injuries they have.

TJR Thoughts: I remember when Itami signed there was concern about a shoulder injury that he had in Japan that he never had surgery for. It finally caught up to him in WWE. Prior to the surgery, he had some momentum after appearing in the battle royal at WrestleMania 31 and there were rumors that he was going to beat Kevin Owens for the NXT Title last July in his home country of Japan. Once he got hurt, they put Finn Balor in that spot.

Itami is 35 years old, so he’s not young, but he’s got many years left in WWE if they are able to utilize him the right way. I think now that WWE has other Japanese wrestlers in NXT doing well like Shinsuke Nakamura and Asuka he could get lost in the shuffle. Hopefully that doesn’t happen. WWE has a tour of Japan in early July (one of those shows may be on WWE Network although that’s not confirmed), so Itami could be cleared for that.

As for NXT, the next Takeover is in two weeks on June 8. It’s possible that Itami returns at that event or possibly at the NXT tapings the next night. He’ll probably be back in his babyface role because that’s what is best for him.