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Hideo Itami Saves Finn Balor from Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel Attack in WWE Raw Debut

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2017

Credit: WWE.com

Hideo Itami arrived on WWE's main roster a day earlier than expected when he came to the aid of Finn Balor on Raw Monday night.

Itami entered as Balor was on the receiving end of an attack by Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas. WWE shared a replay of his debut:

WWE @WWE

SHOW HIM RESPECT!!! @HideoItami makes his #RAW debut by coming to the aid of his longtime friend @FinnBalor! @RealCurtisAxel @TheBoDallas https://t.co/s7R76mBH6p

Triple H commented on Itami's arrival:

Triple H @TripleH

It’s been a long, hard road full of setbacks and adversity...which makes it even better to welcome @HideoItami to #205Live. #GTS #WeAreNXT https://t.co/PrFsayNQBb

The moment was even more special when thinking back to Balor's first introduction to the WWE Universe. He debuted in NXT in November 2014 to help Itami battle The Ascension. The pair took down Konnor and Viktor at NXT TakeOver: R Evolution a month later.

The fact Itami showed up on Raw would seemingly signal WWE plans to use him outside of the cruiserweight division. If that proves to be the case, then he's one of the biggest wild cards to make the jump from NXT.

In terms of in-ring ability and past accomplishments, Itami can stack up with anybody who passed through Full Sail University. Unlike Balor, Neville, Sami Zayn, Samoa Joe or Shinsuke Nakamura, Itami didn't hold the NXT Championship, though.

As Triple H alluded to, injuries prevented Itami from enjoying any kind of sustained run in NXT, and as a result, he was unable to build much of a profile for the fans who weren't familiar with his work in Japan.

While Itami is more than capable of becoming a top star in WWE, it's equally likely he falls into a creative rut through no fault of his own—similar to Neville—where he can't seem to break through beyond putting on really strong midcard matches.

Teaming up with Balor is a good way to introduce Itami to Raw. Of greater significance will be Itami's next step from there.

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