Triple H, Daniel Bryan, Cesaro and Seth Rollins on WWE’s signing of Kenta

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July 17, 2014

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On July 12, 2014, WWE made the huge announcement that the company had signed Japanese wrestling sensation Kenta. WWE Hall of Famer and pop culture icon Hulk Hogan presided over the ceremony, which took place in the ring at a Live Event in Osaka during WWE’s recent Japan Tour. Hogan, who became a star in Japan before Hulkamania ran wild at Madison Square Garden, mentioned Kenta in the same breath as Japanese legends (and Hogan contemporaries) Antonio Inoki, Riki Choshu and Tatsumi Fujinami.

Kenta has the potential to be as transformative as any of those stars. Rising to fame in Pro Wrestling Noah — an organization he helped build alongside owner Mitsuharu Misawa — Kenta caught the attention of American audiences during stints with independent organization Ring of Honor, where he wrestled Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins in acclaimed bouts.

WWE.com spoke with WWE’s COO Triple H, Bryan, Rollins and Cesaro, to learn more about Kenta’s unique style and the global ramifications of him joining WWE.

Watch WWE Hall of Famers Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart welcome Kenta to WWE in Osaka

WWE.COM: When did Kenta first come on your radar?

TRIPLE H: I’ve known about Kenta for years. He’s one of the biggest stars in Japan. He’s a huge talent, obviously. I’m excited for him to try to bring his brand of sports-entertainment to WWE and see how he does.

WWE.COM: Had you seen his work or was it only word of mouth?

TRIPLE H: No, no, I was absolutely familiar with him. It’s funny, because WWE is a different world. You’ll hear players all the time talk about making the switch from college football to the NFL and the difference in the game. I think it’s the same when you come to WWE. I don’t care where you’ve been or how big you’ve been anyplace else. When you get here, it’s a whole different world. There’s no ceiling for anybody in WWE. You just have to come here and prove that you belong to be in the ring with the best in the world. If you can hang with them, that’s exactly where you’ll be. Kenta has all the tools to be able to do it — he’s proven that for years in Japan. Now let’s see what he can do in NXT. Adapt or perish.

WWE.COM: Who would you like to see Kenta wrestle in NXT when he goes down there for the first time?

TRIPLE H: There’s a massive amount of talent I’d love to see him work with down there. The obvious guys are Sami Zayn and NXT Champion Adrian Neville, but there are ton of guys down there like Tyson Kidd, Justin Gabriel and anybody in that class. NXT is the proving ground to get to WWE, and that’s where Kenta’s gonna have to prove himself. He’s gotta prove that he belongs in WWE.

WWE.COM: What is Kenta’s training status and when can we expect to see him on Raw?

TRIPLE H: He just signed with us. I was there when he had his tryout at the Performance Center and I met with him there. We’ve been working on this for a while. His training will start when he gets here. The thing is, you can be a big star anyplace else in the world. That gets you in the door. What you do once you get here is a whole different ballgame. He’s no different than anybody else once he walks through the door of the Performance Center.

WWE.COM: What makes Kenta different than other international stars WWE has signed in the past, and what does he do for WWE’s international appeal?

TRIPLE H: For the Japanese markets, it’s a huge opportunity to see one of their stars come try to make a name for himself in the US and on a global basis. We are a global company and we recruit globally. We are looking for the biggest and brightest athletes all over the world.

NEXT: Daniel Bryan discusses why wrestling Kenta is one the favorite matches of his career …

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