Three months ago, we reported that Japanese star KENTA had received a WWE tryout at their Performance Center in Orlando.
At the time the news broke I wasn't very bullish on him being signed by WWE, due to the combination of his age, small size, history of major ACL injuries, stiff ring style and his inability to speak fluent English. Indeed, Triple H had apparently decreed that they had enough svelte super workers in NXT and on the main roster already, and instead should concentrate on signing more tall, muscular athletes from other sports like amateur wrestling and college football.
It initially seemed like nothing would come of this story, as KENTA quickly claimed he only visited the WWE Performance Center to work out and wasn't there for a tryout or looking for a contract. At the next major Pro Wrestling NOAH event, he announced that he was devoted to his native company and was staying put in their green ring, which killed all rumors about a move to WWE dead in the water.
Now, the KENTA to WWE speculation is back with a vengeance, after he announced his imminent departure from NOAH earlier today:
"KENTA announced today at a press conference at the NOAH offices that he would be leaving the promotion, with his final show being on 5/17....
The belief in Japan is that he is WWE-bound, but at the press conference, he said that he would say later what the next move in his life would be. But he did say that he has a new challenge ahead of him."
According to Dave Meltzer in his latest subscriber only Wrestling Observer Newsletter, the delay in KENTA potentially joining WWE was because his NOAH contract didn't expire until the end of this month and he wanted to fulfill his commitments before announcing the move.
Of course, like with Prince Devitt, there's no official confirmation that KENTA will definitely be jumping ship to WWE, but given that he's already had a tryout and he's talked about wrestling for WWE being a dream of his, clearly the odds point in that direction. We would be remiss to fail to mention the speculation that New Japan Pro Wrestling could be his final destination instead of WWE, but given that New Japan and NOAH are on friendly terms at the moment and regularly share talent, it seems unlikely they would steal their top star.
At the very least, if we will soon see the GTS in WWE rings again, then chances are it will KENTA delivering it, not CM Punk.