Well, we all knew it was coming… we just didn’t know quite what to expect. Triple H told us earlier in the week that we’d see some familiar faces at tonight’s NXT TakeOver “Fatal Four Way” event, and even implied there might be some name changes. And boy was he right.
At the top of the second hour, new NXT General Manager William Regal made his way out for a major announcement. He called it the most iconic international signing in WWE history. And, cue music. Kenta, all suit-and-tie like, sauntered down to the ring, played to the crowd, smiled quite a bit, and said it was his goal to become the NXT Champion. He then did something unexpected. Kenta announced he was changing his name to “honor one of his icons.” Kenta’s name on the NXT screen was then overtaken by unfamiliar text: Hideo Itami.
Triple H said during his conference call that while WWE would possibly re-brand its new NXT stars, they’d likely get a chance to help pick their own names. It is to be assumed, then, that Kenta actually chose to go by Hideo Itami.
Kenta Hideo Itami only had moments to celebrate. The Ascension (who made their WWE main-roster debut on Tuesday night) stormed down to the ring, fresh from loosing their NXT Tag-Team Titles earlier in the evening, and beat the crap out of Kenta Hideo Itami. But Itami, not one to look bad his first night in WWE, fought back and salvaged some respect. It was announced near the end of TakeOver that Hideo Itami will make his in-ring debut next week on NXT.
It’s worth noting that many fans dislike wrestlers changing their name upon entering WWE. In fact, most superstars are not only sadled with a new name variation, they’re given an unfamiliar gimmick. And part of being in NXT is picking up that WWE style. This is a stark contrast to the Attitude Era, when superstars would debut on TV without ever having stepped foot in a WWE ring before.
Consider, though, that WWE considers NXT its own personal NCAA-like developmental system.
What are your thoughts on wrestlers being forced to change their name and learn the “WWE style”? Sound off in the comments below!