Tensai: Why WWE Must Cut Its Losses and Repackage Him
When Tensai made his WWE debut the night after WrestleMania XXVIII, it seemed like the company had huge plans for him. He quickly defeated top stars like John Cena and CM Punk, but his push was derailed and it has gotten to the point where he and the WWE would be best off if Tensai was repackaged.
There was a great deal of hype surrounding the Lord Tensai character when vignettes aired touting his debut and even though expectations were tempered to some degree when it was leaked that the identity of Lord Tensai was Albert, a lot of fans were still interested in seeing how the new gimmick would portray him.
Unfortunately for Tensai, he immediately faced some hurdles. From the time he competed in his very first match under the Tensai character, the fans chanted "Albert." Tensai first gained recognition as Albert in WWE during the Attitude Era, and while he left and became a major star in Japan as Giant Bernard, the WWE Universe didn't forget his original gimmick.
This shouldn't have been a big problem, but it almost seemed as if the creative team stopped pushing him simply because of the crowd's penchant for mentioning his old character. Something similar has happened with Ryback as fans like to chant "Goldberg" due to his resemblance to the former WCW star, but the WWE has pushed forward and built Ryback into a legitimate star.
The creative team probably could have squashed the Albert chants fairly easily by having Tensai cut a promo that denounced his previous stint in the WWE and his status as an American citizen in favor of the Japanese way of life. It would have explained why he changed his gimmick and it would have gotten him over as a monster foreign heel at the same time, which is what the WWE was likely shooting for anyway.
Instead of that, however, the WWE decided to squander his wins over Cena and Punk by making him a jobber. Tensai ditched the "Lord" part of his name, he got rid of the Japanese entrance garb that he would wear to the ring, he lost his worshiper in Sakamoto and he isn't even asked to speak in Japanese anymore.
In fact, the only thing keeping the Tensai character alive is the fact that he has Japanese writing on his face. There isn't anything else inherently Japanese about him, so there's no point in keeping up the charade.
The WWE had an opportunity to create a compelling character that could possibly be a main-event player or an upper mid-carder at the very least, but that opportunity went down the tubes long ago.
It isn't possible to totally salvage Tensai now, but perhaps he can at least become a useful member of the roster if he reverts back to Albert or adopts a more standard, Americanized gimmick. Tensai had a ton of potential to start, but as soon as he was stripped of everything that made him Tensai, things went downhill and he became irrelevant.
What should the WWE do with Tensai?
All Tensai ever does now is job to guys like Ryback, R-Truth and Kofi Kingston. He has been beaten by essentially every mid-card or main-event face and it has destroyed his credibility as a monster heel. The best course of action would be to remove him from television for a couple months, reintroduce him as Albert and have him explain that Tensai is over and done with.
Fans would probably be happy to see the return of Albert, even though the gimmick was suspect at best, so he would likely get a nice little push to start. There is obviously the possibility that the fans could then flip the script and chant "Tensai" in a pathetic effort to be funny, but it's a better option than standing pat.
Truth be told, the WWE doesn't have many talented big men right now as a lot of the top guys are now on the smaller side. Ryback, Big Show, Sheamus and Wade Barrett would all qualify as bigger guys with talent, but that is the exception rather than the rule. Albert doesn't have much charisma, but he is very underrated in the ring for a man of his girth and could thrive with a simplified gimmick.
Even if Tensai simply develops into a mid-card player with a bit of legitimacy, that is a whole lot better than what he has become. The WWE came up with a pretty intriguing idea in Tensai, but it was executed about as poorly as possible.
It may seem like a long shot, but repackaging Tensai and getting him away from the Japanese character is the only way to get anything out of him at this point.
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