When Matt Bloom returned to WWE earlier this year, hopes were high that the former A-Train character would head straight to the top of the company.
After all, Bloom, at 6'7" and 360 pounds, is exactly the type of headliner Vince McMahon likes to push. Additionally, his years in Japan (he worked for the well-respected New Japan Pro Wrestling) had greatly improved his skills as an in-ring performer. With a cool new name ("Tensai"), a manager (Sakemoto) and heavy promotion, he looked set to go.
Of course, as we know now, that didn't quite happen, and since his return to WWE, the star has drifted aimlessly from one match to another, each one seemingly more unimportant than the last.
So, what went wrong for Tensai?
Well, his new cartoon-style gimmick, which is something straight out of the '80s, is a hindrance. It's too one-dimensional and silly for anyone to get truly behind him.
His lack of mic time also didn't help. Instead of giving him an aura of mystery or menace, the fact that he doesn't talk at all just serves to make him even duller.
That former UFC Champion Brock Lesnar made his debut on the exact same Raw (the night after WrestleMania) also stole most of his thunder. Never mind Tensai, WWE suddenly had a new monster heel who people were far more interested in seeing.
To make matters worse, the booking team seemed at a loss for what to do with him: He was briefly associated with John Laurinaitis, but that was quickly dropped, and since then he's been relegated to mostly jobbing in short TV matches and working Superstars tapings.
Not that Tensai is totally blameless. His in-ring performances have generally been clunky and unimpressive, with the star clearly struggling to adjust to the American style of wrestling after working for so long in Japan. He's not very over with the fans, either, mostly eliciting silence in the arenas wherever he goes.
And who can forget the furor over his ill-advised Tout in which he made a racist joke about his manager, Sakemoto? (WWE had to later apologize publicly.) Clearly, his actions were foolish and unwise, especially in this age in which wrestlers, and celebrities in general, are expected to know how to carry themselves on all social media platforms and maintain a good image for themselves and their brand.
So, as his career heads on a steady downward trajectory, what is his true value to the company?
Well, at the moment, it doesn't look like he has a whole lot. He's jobbed so much, he can't even be a scary midcard heel that comes out and squashes people in short matches.
However, if the booking team can make the effort with him, he can have a great deal of value to the company. Oh, he may never be WWE Champion or anything like that, but with the right booking, and a few wins, it's easy to see him being a frightening henchman type (possibly for a returning John Laurinaitis) or even U.S. or Intercontinental Champion.
WWE clearly needs some good midcard heels, and Matt Bloom, despite his disappointing performances so far, clearly has the talent, skill and charisma to pull it off, too, just going by his impressive resume in Japan.
At this point, things don't look too good for Tensai's future in WWE, but who knows? Maybe that can change. Let's hope so, because he really does have a great deal to offer the company, providing he's used correctly.
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