WWE's recent booking of Tensai is encouraging and painful all at the same time.
Tensai is now a face who has adopted a comical dancing gimmick alongside Brodus Clay. This is encouraging because at least he's now getting television time and he's winning.
This is painful because he should have had television time and been winning all along. He started out in April being booked the way he should have been in terms of wins and loses. His Lord Tensai character had a bit too much cartoon and fantasy in it. The green mist and the “Lord” did not seem to go over well.
Character tweaks are not uncommon, especially for a new character. It's my understanding that WWE didn't follow through with the original booking plans for Tensai.
They didn't stick to a plan, and he became a place holder for the times they needed a heel to lose. An extreme waste of his talents.
It's World Wrestling ENTERTAINMENT. Tensai's dancing is fine...for now. It gets him some momentum with fans and management. I hope this opens up an opportunity for Tensai to become more of a priority in terms of legitimate booking plans.
Tensai makes more sense as a heel. He's a big guy with a unique look. It's easy for the audience to have sympathy for any face opponent. Tensai is also a veteran who has worked around the world. He's no stranger to the ring. I would imagine it works better having him as a heel to lead the face in their feud or match. I say imagine because we haven't gotten to see him work a consistent feud with anyone in WWE as Tensai.
WWE has so much young talent on the main roster and coming up from NXT. True veterans who are as professional as Matt “Tensai” Bloom can't be taken for granted. He has a lot to offer as an active competitor in WWE given the state of their roster.
Tensai is currently in the same role as Brodus Clay and Santino Marella—talented guys who have been moved into the comedy role. I still have hope for Clay to get a fair shot. Marella has earned his keep as “king of the comedy role” until he leaves WWE. Marella is one of the most entertaining talents WWE has, and I'm fine with his role because they let him cash in on it outside of the ring with YouTube and other extras.
I fear WWE is trying to trap Tensai in the comedy role just as they did with Vladimir Kozlov. The big Russian had a chiseled look and decent hype coming to the main roster of WWE. He participated in squash match after squash match before his first big feud on SmackDown against The Undertaker.
Working against The Undertaker is great for your character's relevance to the audience. It's easy heat because you're going up against a legend. Working against The Undertaker can be even greater for your long-term success if you can get through the match without flaws. Either be good enough to hold your own or at least have enough talent to shut up, listen and let Undertaker lead you in the ring.
Kozlov didn't hold his own, and The Undertaker didn't seem to be able to lead Kozlov. I remember the match wasn't good. The Undertaker's famous “Snake Eyes” move was botched and the whole match felt like a dance where the two dancers kept stepping on each other's toes.
Kozlov slowly moved into a place-holder role and filled in whenever needed on the lower-level WWE programs. He then found a home with the comedy schtick he did for a while with Santino Marella. If Marella set Kozlov up, he could be funny based on his appearance and Russian accent. Otherwise, he wasn't needed.
WWE apparently realized he wasn't needed and eventually released him.
This is similar to the path of The Great Khali, who is in the comedy role. The only difference is WWE gave Kozlov a match against The Undertaker to see if he could hang in the ring. I think WWE knew Khali couldn't hang. They tried to pass him off as legitimate for as long as his size would allow, but that ran its course. However, he's such a circus attraction and such a star in India that he serves a purpose.
Tensai was a big star in Japan. He's back in WWE, and I can't imagine they signed him for peanuts. He needs to be used appropriately.
He can wrestle. He can talk (in multiple languages). He has a marketable look. He's professional and stays out of trouble behind the scenes. He can do a mean lawnmower dance move. That's all got to count for something more than a year of booking disrespect.