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With Hideo Itami healthy, he should just go straight to WWE

Tuesday’s Rude Awakening includes Itami’s eventual return, a RAW stuffed with Fastlane stories, and the latest on Seth Rollins’ knee injury.

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We publish a whole lot of content here at Cageside Seats. We’re also [looks around and whispers so the bosses can’t hear] not the only place producing wrestling content on the internet. So, as a service to you on the weekdays, we’ll be producing a wrestling newsletter, "Rude Awakening." Well, it will be a newsletter eventually: for now, it’ll just be part of your experience here at Cageside, collecting the news, recaps, and social moments from the greater wrestling universe daily so you won’t fall behind, with a newsletter format to come.

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Hideo Itami has already made his way to the main roster of WWE once. He debuted at WrestleMania 31 in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, and was set to be in the main-event scene of NXT before a shoulder injury cut both of those runs short. This was all the way back in May of 2015: he wouldn’t return to the ring until June of 2016, made an appearance at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II to kick Austin Aries in the face, and then suffered a neck injury at a house show in October that took him out of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic and off television. Now, Itami is reportedly healthy and cleared to return to action, but once again, it’s a very different NXT that he’s returning to.

That might be reason to just skip a return to NXT at all, and just have Itami debut on the main roster. SmackDown is probably the place to do it, since they could do a better job of avoiding losing him in the shuffle and utilize this time where he’s healthy to get him back on track. Itami could go back to NXT, but for what? He’s not in the same position as Bobby Roode or Eric Young or Austin Aries, who were brought in to help the kids in developmental. Itami was brought in around the same time as Finn Balor and Kevin Owens and more, and with the same idea in mind: getting them familiar with the WWE style, bringing some attention to NXT, then moving them to the main roster for the next stage of their career.

All of those wrestlers have already moved up, and Itami was the first of them to do so in any way before injury struck. Moving ahead with the original plan might make the most sense. Otherwise, what is there for him to do at NXT right now? Roode is NXT Champion, and will presumably face Shinsuke Nakamura at the next TakeOver. With Tye Dillinger still in NXT, it seems as if he’s being groomed for another shot at Roode and the NXT title after that. NXT as a whole needs to move toward focusing on its developmental pieces more, too, so giving Itami the kind of TV time he deserves at NXT does seem to run counter to that.

Just hope that WWE doesn’t decide Itami should just go to 205 Live and the cruiserweight division on RAW. There are already enough wrestlers there who aren’t being properly utilized, and Itami could help beef up a SmackDown roster in need of faces.

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