When reports surfaced before WrestleMania that Matt Bloom was set to return to WWE and receive a big push, many were cautiously optimistic.
Oh, sure, Bloom's previous stint in the company (as "Albert" and later "A-Train") hadn't exactly set the world on fire, but this time things would be different. After all, in his years away from WWE, Bloom had quietly been honing his craft in the highly respected and tough Japanese wrestling scene, working extremely hard and eventually turning into a well-rounded, polished pro wrestler.
Far from being the clueless, clumsy and clunky big man he was during his first nondescript WWE stint, Bloom would be returning to the promotion hugely improved.
Indeed, when he debuted for the company on the April 2 episode of Raw under the new name "Lord Tensai," there was every hope that the star could fulfill his potential and be the company's next main-event heel. He was also given a manager, Sakamoto, to help get his monster act over.
Considering all these factors working in his favor, he was simply destined to be a big star in WWE, right?
Lamentably, this hasn't exactly happened, with Tensai's return turning into one of the biggest disappointments of recent times.
After a decent start, in which he squashed jobbers like Alex Riley and Yoshi Tatsu with relative ease and even managed to pin the fiercely protected John Cena on an episode of Raw, the New Japan star has since found himself demoted to Internet-only show Superstars. His brief onscreen partnership with general manager John Laurinaitis was quickly dropped, with The Big Show becoming the heel GM's enforcer instead, and Tensai being shoved out of the main-event picture.
To make matters worse, the fans couldn't care less about him, either, with the wrestler mostly eliciting startling silence in arenas wherever he goes.
Unsurprisingly, reports indicate that management have grown disillusioned with their recently-signed star and now consider him a dismal flop. Additionally, it has also been claimed that the creative team is currently in the process of making over Tensai (the "Lord" part of his title has been jettisoned) in an attempt to save his flagging career. Let's hope for his sake, it works.
So, where did it all go wrong? How did Tensai go from being the next big star in WWE to a widely criticised C-show regular?
Some of the blame undoubtedly has to go on Bloom himself. While he was a superb monster heel in Japan, he has failed spectacularly to demonstrate this talent during his second WWE stint.
Looking lethargic, flat and mechanical in the ring for most part, he is simply not at the same elite level of other WWE main-eventers like CM Punk, Daniel Bryan or Randy Orton. No doubt his lacklustre efforts serve as a massive disappointment to anyone who closely followed his sterling career in Japan and were expecting similar results in his WWE run.
So, why did this happen? Surely, he should be extremely motivated right now considering the money and potential main-event spot at stake?
Well, it's possible that, after so long wrestling in Japan, Bloom is struggling to adjust to the American in-ring style, and this is the reason he looks so deeply uncomfortable out there.
If this is indeed the case, Bloom should do everything in his power to rectify this. He could go down to training group FCW on one of his days off to go over some of the basics, or work with more of the agents in the company more. He owes it to himself to make sure he does his very best to get over, if nothing else.
In fairness to the star, however, a great deal of the blame also lies with the creative team for burdening him with such an outdated and cartoonish gimmick. Coming off like the lamest Bond henchman ever, Tensai's entire act looks like something out of WWF in the '80s. No wonder many fans are rolling their eyes at him and fail to take him seriously: Tensai's character is roughly 20 years out of date. That he never talks probably doesn't aid him in getting over as a character, either.
Additionally, Tensai's career may have suffered from Brock Lesnar's signing with the company prior to WrestleMania (Lesnar debuted the same night he did).
Being a major name and former UFC Heavyweight Champion, Lesnar inevitably stole all of Tensai's thunder and press coverage upon his shocking and much talked-about return.
Per reports, Tensai was due to be launched into the mix with John Cena upon his debut. However, after returning to the company, he instead found himself put on ice for a lengthy period while Lesnar fought Cena, something that also seemed to greatly hinder his momentum, too.
Who knows? Maybe if Lesnar hadn't signed at exactly the same time and Tensai had been paired with Cena on television right away, as originally planned, he would have gotten over in his role better.
Summarily, while it may be too soon to label Bloom's WWE return a total disaster, at this point things are definitely not looking good.
It's not all his fault, of course—the company should shoulder the blame, too. They failed to give him a strong gimmick that would catch on with the masses. They haven't booked him well, either, simply letting him flounder in the midcard scene for months while they focused on Lesnar.
But regardless of the reasons, let's hope the company's attempt at making him over works. With all the recent suspensions going on, WWE needs all the breakthrough stars they can get. He may have his flaws but, considering his wrestling talent and raw monster charisma, Tensai is as good a candidate as anyone for this. He just requires better booking and a good program to sink his teeth into.
And, hey, if things get really desperate, they can even bring back Trish Stratus as his manager. It'll be just like old times.