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Hideo Itami is finally getting the shot he deserves

Thursday’s Rude Awakening looks at your new #1 contender at NXT, the Vince McMahon biopic, and the birth of Birdie Bella Bryan.

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 was brought to NXT years ago as a big deal, the first of what would end up being many stars out of Japan coming to WWE. While Asuka has an undefeated streak that threatens Goldberg and Shinsuke Nakamura is already on the main roster, Itami has been injured multiple times and forced to basically hit reset on each occasion. So, he’s still at NXT, but things finally seem to be changing for him. NXT isn’t bothering with slowly building him back up at this point: they’re letting Itami loose in the main event where he belongs, and now he’s the number one contender to Bobby Roode’s NXT Championship.

Itami’s full abilities can finally be put to use as well, given the two superstars who were using his famed manuevers — Daniel Bryan with the running knee and CM Punk with Go 2 Sleep — are no longer wrestling. So, a fully-powered Itami, now 36 and in a rush to make the main roster? That’s someone to watch as he (hopefully) tears through NXT’s main event scene until Drew McIntyre or whomever is ready for their turn in the spotlight.

We’ll get Itami vs. Roode for sure, but if Hideo manages to wrest the NXT Championship away from him, maybe we’ll see NXT move on to Itami vs. Kassius Ohno, or against McIntyre, or maybe even someone newer like Dylan Miley (now Lars Sullivan) getting the kind of “well, you’re big and strong” early shot that Nia Jax did against Bayley when the two were at NXT. That, or Itami falters against Roode in his feud, and it’s him getting the bump to the main roster he would have seen a long time ago if not for a series of unfortunate injuries. Hey, everyone he ever feuded against is now on RAW or SmackDown, so why not Itami, too?

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