In a recent interview with NJPW, KENTA, formerly known as Hideo Itami, critiqued the WWE, and revealed his frustrations with the company’s management.
NJPW recently held an interview with KENTA where the Japanese star talked about his run in the WWE, his frustrations with the company’s management, and why he decided to return to Japan.
KENTA had joined WWE in 2014, and was one of the first big signings for NXT. But a number of injuries saw his early push getting derailed after which he never quite managed to find his footing in the company’s developmental brand.
He would go on to join the main roster in late 2017, and competed on 205 Live for the next couple of years before being granted his release in February of 2019.
Talking about his time in WWE, KENTA revealed that the company tried to bend and adjust his wrestling style to suit their own, and how it led to him slowly losing his identity as a professional wrestler.
“It’s hard to put into words but… it was a very tough five years. I got hurt, and beyond that I was really grasping for something during that whole time. It’s like, I came into the company to bring my style of wrestling worldwide, but what that actually became was bending and adapting to what the company wanted. That’s important in a sense, but the strength and aggression that I bring to the table got lost. That’s a real shame.
One person there might tell you ‘do it this way’, and then another would be ‘no, no, do it like this’. That meant my own personal vision just crumbled away. There are people who can do very well in that environment, but I just couldn’t. So when that ‘what next?’ question came up, I didn’t ask anybody else what they thought. I just decided to focus on what I wanted to do. Otherwise there’s no point.”
KENTA, who performed under the name Hideo Itami in the WWE, spoke about how he did not regret his decision to join the company, and learned some valuable lessons from the five years that he spent there.
“If I didn’t, the whole thing would have been meaningless. Of course, you want to succeed in everything first time and keep moving forward, but life isn’t like that. You take your knocks, and then have to learn from that, otherwise your experience is pointless. In the end, I have zero regrets about any of my decisions.
My style isn’t really like the WWE style. There’s an aggression there that’s closer to Strong Style, my matches evolve in a more thrilling way. I think if I can fit in here, I’ll be able to awaken something that’s been dormant for a long time.”
The issues raised by KENTA are very similar to the ones that Jon Moxley brought up during his recent appearance on Chris Jericho’s podcast. Both wrestlers felt that they had been hurt due to the WWE’s micromanagement of its talents.
It is not hard to see the validity of KENTA’s frustrations, as something very similar is currently taking place with Shinsuke Nakamura on the main roster.
“The King of Strong Style” has been floundering around the main roster since his poorly booked WWE Championship feud with AJ Styles last year. It just feels like there is an inability in the management to handle wrestlers who do not fit the WWE mould.
If rumours are to be believed then a number of wrestlers are unhappy with their lack of direction on the main roster. And with the rise of AEW as a viable alternative, it might be time for WWE to sit up and take notice.