Lord Tensai. Man, where do I start with this one?
Right off the bat, I have to say that I have always liked Albert. While at heart, I am a true pro wrestling fan, growing up on Ric Flair vs. Dusty Rhodes, Roddy Piper vs. Greg Valentine, and Tully Blanchard vs. Magnum TA, the truth is, I am also a comic book fan.
And, there is nothing better in a comic than a knockdown, drag-out free for all between the hero and villain, in which a city block is decimated, and everything is left in rubble.
In other words, I am kind of partial to big guys in the ring who just overpower everyone in their way.
For me, Albert has always been one of those guys. He just looks like a bad man who is up to no good, and doesn’t care who you are, he will tear your head off to get what he wants.
He had a good run the first time he worked in WWE, but nothing has compared to this.
The Lord Tensai character has given Albert a complete makeover, transforming him from a tough, street fighting bruiser, to a mysterious, cold blooded instrument of destruction. He has been the victor in one squash match after another, returning fans to a time when stars were made in quick five minute bouts at the expense of jobbers who were just earning a paycheck.
Like John Cena and CM Punk.
That’s right kids, Tensai has had his arm raised over Vince McMahon’s top guy, and the current WWE Champion.
On the Monday Night Raw that Tensai was revealed as Cena’s opponent, I realized that this was an impossible situation. Why?
Because Lord Tensai was on a roll, enjoying his first fame as a new character, unblemished, and untouched by any WWE Superstar.
But, putting him in a match with Cena? This early on? Why do all of that work, only to end his momentum now? As Tensai made his way down the ramp, I began to think of the man waiting for him in the ring.
John Cena is the end all, be all. Everyone in the company follows his lead, and WWE will succeed or fail, depending on how much he is over, and how many tickets he can sell. When he is in a match, whether it’s on TV, or pay per view, it’s never a good idea to bet against him.
He is the man. Period.
But, then Lord Tensai pinned him. Not CM Punk, not Randy Orton, not The Rock. Lord Tensai.
Suddenly, the big man who was squashing everyone in sight had shot straight up the totem pole by going over on WWE’s No. 1 draw.
Fans who may have dismissed Tensai as nothing more than a 1980’s throwback WWF Superstar, had begun to take notice.
Vince was serious about this guy.
How serious? Last week on Raw, Tensai was paired with Daniel Bryan against CM Punk in a two on one handicap match. The bout ended when Tensai hit Punk with the claw, and drove the WWE Champ’s shoulders to the mat for the three-count.
Did you catch that?
The bout ended when Lord Tensai, who has been back on the scene for all of 10 minutes, hit the claw on the WWE Champion, CM Punk, and pinned him in the middle of the ring.
Apparently, Vince is dead serious about this guy.
It’s at this point that we stop, and consider the question I posed in the title of this column.
Could Lord Tensai become WWE Champion?
Before his victory over Cena and Punk, I likely would have said no, that it’s too soon to call. After all, he’s not beaten anyone yet.
Now, however, I would say that it’s no longer a question of if, but when.
Tensai has formed an alliance with Raw and SmackDown General Manager, John Laurinaitis, and that gives him an advantage over other potential challengers in the locker room.
John is at ease in the ring next to Tensai, which means a trust has formed, and as long as Tensai is willing to be the muscle for Laurinaitis, there is always a chance that he will be rewarded for his efforts.
This is very similar to the situation that had seemingly formed between John and Brock Lesnar. But, now that Brock is off of WWE TV, the matter of how he will return, and if he will realign himself with Laurinaitis, is very much up in the air. Tensai seems to be in a great spot with the Executive VP of Talent Relations.
Then there is the matter of Punk, who has had major heat with Laurinaitis from day one. The smiling, laid-back WWE Champion has had some real fun with John, mocking him, and berating him at every turn. How much longer will John put up with this disrespect, before unleashing the Japanese warrior on the Chicago made champ?
Thus far, Lord Tensai has demolished everyone in his path. He is undefeated, and it appears that no one in WWE is able to stop him. With wins over John Cena and CM Punk, it seems that the sky is the limit for the man formerly known as Albert. Is the WWE Championship that much of a stretch for this reinvented Superstar?
Before you say yes, remember. This is pro wrestling, and more importantly, this is WWE, that we’re talking about here. As Vince McMahon loves to remind us, and as we should never forget, anything can happen.
Prince Albert, in a Japanese gimmick, spitting green mist, on his way to becoming WWE Champion, in 2012.
Who would have thought it?