Bell To Bell: Ways Lord Tensai Can Get Respect
Two weeks after Lord Tensai makes his WWE re-debut, he beats John Cena in the main event on Raw Supershow. That’s not a “push” to the top folks, that’s a shove.
Clearly, WWE is hoping for the real-life Matt Bloom will become one of their next monster heels. On paper, it makes sense. After his original tenure in WWE from 1997 to 2004, Bloom went to Japan and became a star under the name Giant Bernard. He’s got the look (those eyes are scary…), at 6’6 and over 300 lbs he’s got the physique, he’s got great mobility for a big man, he’s got more than 14 years of experience. He’s also got a nice presence in the ring too.
So why don’t fans seem to be buying it? The crowds were mostly quiet for first two matches. They were interested in his match with Cena. But I’d wager that was simply because John Cena was in the ring, and he stirs up a crowd like few others. Granted, the audience has given him a few chants, but they’re not exactly the ones he wants to hear. I can only imagine what the poor guy must have been thinking the first time he heard the crowd chant: “Albert!”
Yes, Albert. It’s a reference to the name of Bloom’s former ring persona…*sigh*…Prince Albert. Hey, it was the Attitude Era! Prince Albert (later shortened to simply Albert) was a wrestler whose trademarks were his multiple piercings and his mane of back hair, the latter of which often prompted fans to chant “Shave your back!” They eventually had him put a shirt on to stifle those chants. He did manage to hold the Intercontinental Title for a few weeks in the summer of 2001, but then faded into the tag team scene, which included a rather embarrassing partnership with Scotty 2 Hotty where he was nicknamed the “hip hop hippo.”
In late 2002 Bloom’s ring name was changed to A-Train, and he became a midcard heel on Smackdown. A-Train was a bit more respectable than Albert. He even worked a program with The Undertaker, though it was highlighted by an embarrassing handicap match loss at Wrestlemania alongside the Big Show. In late 2004 a rotator cuff injury triggered Bloom’s departure from the company.
But now he’s back for another try as Lord Tensai, a character the announcers are referring to as a “former WWE star” who made it big in Japan. He comes to the ring with a “worshipper,” and uses green mist (a la Tajiri) to disable opponents. His signature back hair is gone, replaced with tattoos. But he’s still the same powerhouse he always was. Bloom is a very recognizable wrestler who WWE can make money off of, assuming they use him well. But after what we saw on Raw this week, I’m concerned this character isn’t ready for a main event spotlight yet. He’s only three weeks old, after all. If WWE wants to make Matt Bloom into a marquee talent, and quiet those pesky “Albert!” chants, they’ll need to tread carefully these next few weeks. I’m assuming they’re grooming Tensai for a program with either Cena or CM Punk. If this character doesn’t take off, that could make for some very stale television.
So how can Lord Tensai get some much needed respect from the audience? Let’s see…
1. Tell us who he was.
Saying he’s “a former WWE star” isn’t enough, especially when we can all hear the fans chanting “Albert!” Whip up a video package using archive footage that shows off Tensai’s athleticism, but also plays up some of the more cringeworthy stuff he had to endure. His team with Scotty 2 Hotty, the “shave your back” chants, etc. Didn’t he and Darren Drozdov have to dress in drag once? Use all of that to explain his motivation for leaving the company, and how he’s come back not only to win the WWE Title, but to seek his revenge.
2. What did he do in Japan that was so great?
This disadvantage with this Japan thing is that WWE (presumably) has no footage of Bloom wrestling there. So the audience has to be told he was a big star there, as opposed to seeing it for themselves. That’s a disadvantage. But if it’s your only option, use it! What titles did he win there? What big crowds did he wrestle in front of? What did he do to devestage his opponents? Just how big an “international superstar” did he become? All this information fills in the character’s background and allows us to see Lord Tensai as a credible threat, not just some big wrestler with tattoos.
3. Change his ring gear
I mean no disrespect here, but I don’t know if traditional wrestling trunks were the way to go with Tensai. Yes, he’s big and imposing. But I can easily picture a lot of casual fans looking at him and saying, “Who’s this chubby, pale guy?” This is especially true when you put him next to the chiseled Brock Lesnar, who WWE is also “shoving” right now. Personally, I thought Bloom looked best when he wore the black shirt and long pants. He might want to try something similar as Lord Tensai. Pants over a singlet maybe? That would allow us to still see his tattoos, but cover up his belly, and eliminate any nagging chuckle factors.
4. Put him with Brodus Clay
Instead of jamming Tensai down our throats before we can get to know him, why not have him cut his teeth on a program with someone less prominent than say, the biggest star in the company? The man that immediately comes to my mind for this job is Brodus Clay. Clay and Tensai have similar looks, but dramatically opposing personas. That’s very fertile ground for storytelling. Clay has also been undefeated since he started using his “Funkasaurus” gimmick. Who better to break that undefeated streak than Tensai, who WWE is pushing as a heartless monster? At this point, Clay doesn’t necessarily need to be undefeated to be over. The fans are interested in his dancing persona (even though he’s really not the best dancer…), and a loss wouldn’t hurt him nearly as much as it would help Tensai. Put them next to each other for a few weeks, and build it up as a monster vs. monster match on pay per view. With any luck, these two agile big men would be able to put on a match with a few memorable spots, and ultimately position Tensai for greater things.
Because whether you call him Matt Bloom, Lord Tensai, or even Albert, he is capable of great things. But sometimes, it’s all in the packaging.
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