Updates from Thursday, July 17
Marc Middleton of WrestlingInc.com, via the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, speculates on a major reason WWE signed Kenta:
A big reason why WWE signed KENTA is because the WWE Network is expanding into Japan next year and they really have wanted a top Japanese star for that reason.
KENTA is playing a big part in WWE's Japanese expansion as it was announced a few days ago that NXT, where KENTA will be going first, will start airing on J Sports, a Japanese satellite channel. NXT was added to the channel due KENTA being expected to be a regular there in just a few months.
KENTA is scheduled to arrive in Orlando this coming week and WWE has another press conference scheduled then.
Kenta is one of the biggest professional wrestling stars in the world. After months of speculation, he fittingly joined the world's most popular wrestling company by signing with WWE Saturday.
As seen in this photo courtesy of WWE ring announcer Justin Roberts, Kenta received a ringing endorsement from Hogan and Hall of Fame manager Jimmy Hart:
Hogan has long been a favorite in Japan, so it is fitting that he greeted perhaps the biggest current Japanese star. Hogan has done it all, but even he noted how great the atmosphere was in Osaka:
There is a great deal of excitement surrounding the agreement, but perhaps nobody is happier about it than WWE's executive vice president of talent, creative and live events, Triple H, who lauded the company's newest acquisition.
"Kenta is an incredible performer who brings the crowd to its feet when he steps into the ring," Triple H said. "WWE's signing of Kenta reflects our continued dedication to creating a diverse roster that appeals to our global fan base."
The 33-year-old star accomplished just about everything in Japan as he held titles on eight different occasions for Pro Wrestling Noah. It was time for a new and exciting challenge, which is exactly what Kenta will embark upon.
Before making a jump to the main roster, however, Kenta will have a stint in WWE's NXT developmental system. Some might view that as a slight to such a seasoned performer, but Kenta is looking forward to settling in Orlando, Florida, per WWE.com.
"I am humbled to join WWE's NXT division and look forward to honing my craft with the global leader in sports-entertainment," said Kenta.
While LeBron James opting to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers has dominated the sports world over the past day, Scott Fishman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel argues that Kenta is the free-agent signing that people should be talking about:
This move has the potential to be a major coup for WWE, but handling Kenta properly will be a challenge. His aggressive in-ring work is a big part of what makes him great, so WWE has to be careful in terms of not limiting his move set too much.
Also, WWE has to figure out an effective way to book him. The company has dropped the ball with Japanese talents in the past as Taka Michinoku and Funaki became comedy acts, while the likes of Ultimo Dragon and Tajiri were never used to the best of their abilities.
WWE knows that the wrestling world is watching, so there is a lot riding on Kenta's success in the United States. Kenta will be an instant hit if WWE unleashes him and allows him to be himself. Getting to the main scene could be a challenge due to the language barrier, but pairing him with a mouthpiece like Paul Heyman would make up for it.
Regardless of what WWE ultimately does with Kenta, it officially has one of professional wrestling's greatest talents at its disposal. If Kenta has success in WWE, then there is no telling how profoundly it will change the course of the company moving forward.
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