Following a pretty noteworthy edition of WWE SmackDown on Tuesday, we got another piece of big news late in the evening as it was revealed that Hideo Itami has been granted a release from his WWE contract.
The news broke courtesy of an exclusive report from Sean Ross Sapp and Jeremy Lambert of Fightful.com. According to their story, Itami asked for his release this week and WWE obliged. His final show for WWE was taped on Tuesday, an edition of 205 Live, where he lost to Akira Tozawa.
Earlier on Tuesday, it was revealed that Dean Ambrose informed WWE that he would not be re-signing with the company and will be leaving following the expiration of his contract at the end of April. This also follows news that The Revival and Mike Kanellis had also recently asked for their releases. The reasons for all of these decisions was reportedly creative frustrations, and Itami’s release request was motivated by the same rationale.
The difference between the others who asked for their release in recent weeks and Itami is that Hideo has reportedly been granted his full release. He will have a 90 days no compete clause that will apply the minute his release goes through, however.
Itami, who formerly competed in Japan as KENTA, was part of a highly publicized class of recruits in 2014 that also included Finn Balor and Kevin Owens.
Despite coming in with much fanfare, Itami’s career with WWE felt that it was always getting derailed by unfortunate injuries that unfortunately never allowed him to sustain any momentum. Initially, he suffered a shoulder injury that kept him out for just over a year of action between 2015 and 2016, and Itami then suffered a neck injury in the fall of 2016 that kept him out of action until mid 2017.
Itami had some limited success as part of the 205 Live brand this year following that run with NXT that never seemed to catch on. On Sunday night at the Royal Rumble, he took part in the fatal four-way match for the Cruisweight Championship against title holder Buddy Murphy, Akira Tozawa, and Kalisto in a losing effort.
The story now will shift to Itami’s next move. He will likely reappear in Japan under his original name, KENTA, and perhaps might even be persuaded to work some shows for AEW. The first AEW event, Double or Nothing, occurring May 25th in Las Vegas will happen following the expiration of Itami’s 90 day no compete clause, so we’re sure rumors were persist about an appearance there until something is announced.
Itami referenced the reports circulating on Tuesday evening about his release with a simple tweet.