On May 19, 2015, Matt Bloom was promoted to the role of head trainer of NXT, as announced by WWE.com. After months spent as the replacement for Bill DeMott, Bloom received the approval of boss Triple H and the promotion was made official.
His sudden rise up the managerial ranks of NXT was the culmination of a nearly two-decade career that saw him achieve success at the highest levels of competition, both at home and abroad.
Whether he was the hairy, pierced Prince Albert, the destructive A-Train, the dominant Giant Bernard or the fun-loving Hip Hop Hippo, Bloom entertained fans for nearly 20 years and now has the opportunity to help shape the future of the industry by working with the brightest and most talented young stars in the industry.
As a heel, he ran over some of the most prominent babyfaces of his time. As a hero, he popped crowds with his unique dynamic with tag team partners such as Scotty 2 Hotty and Brodus Clay, not to mention his dance skills.
In celebration of the faith that Triple H and WWE have placed in Bloom to help mold the stars of tomorrow, take a stroll down memory lane and relive the greatest matches, moments and angles from the career of the new NXT head trainer.
Finding His Attitude
Just one year into his professional wrestling career, Bloom signed with WWE after meeting then-trainer Dr. Tom Prichard.
After spending months in the developmental territories that existed at the time, including Jerry Lawler's Memphis promotion, he made his main roster debut after WrestleMania XV on April 11, 1999. On that night, he rescued Darren Drozdov from a beatdown at the hands of the Big Boss Man.
From that night until Droz's unfortunate injury in October 1999, the newly dubbed "Prince Albert" partnered with his pierced friend in a bruising tag team. Just a notch below the elite tandems of the time, they helped form a solid foundation for what was a blossoming tag division.
From there, he became associated with the Big Boss Man, ironically, and the two of them set out to make the Big Show's life a living hell. And they did, for a little while.
Ego got in the way, though, and the two ended their partnership with a brawl on a January 2000 episode of SmackDown.
Luckily, Prince Albert would recover nicely, thanks to a new tag team pairing and a stunning blonde newcomer.
March 2000 saw the arrival of Trish Stratus, a former fitness model who had big aspirations of making it in the world of pro wrestling. Right out of the gate, she began recruiting talent for a tag team and set her sights on Albert and Test.
Together they would be called T&A and together, they would make life a living hell for their fellow tag teams, the first being the Dudley Boyz.
Bubba Ray Dudley's fascination with Trish fueled the program, but Albert received more television time as a result of the program. Together, he and Test would notch their biggest victory by defeating the former tag champions at Backlash in April.
Of course, Dudley would get the last laugh by putting the blonde bombshell through a table, but there was no denying the roll that the new team was on.
At Fully Loaded, they partnered with Trish to battle the Hardy Boyz and Lita in what was an outstanding six-person tag bout. Albert and Test were the perfect opponents for Matt and Jeff Hardy. They were the two powerhouses that offset the speed and agility of the popular brother team. Unfortunately, that power did not net them the victory.
And that became a common theme for T&A throughout their run.
They oftentimes were put in high-profile situations but were, by and large, enhancement talent for the more popular teams. Even their war with the aging APA did them little favors and by December, just nine months after their formation, they split, sending Albert and Test on separate paths.
A Banner Year?
In April 2001, Albert stepped out of obscurity and into the role of enforcer for the X-Factor faction. Alongside Justin Credible and X-Pac, he became one of the most despised villains on WWE programming. Not because they were vile and despicable, but because of the so-called "X-Pac" heat that greeted them every time they walked out on stage.
While he was largely a background player to start, that all changed in June when he challenged Kane for the intercontinental title. In a match that had no business being as good as it was, Albert stunned the wrestling world and picked up his first singles championship following some assistance from Diamond Dallas Page.
He would hold the title for a month before dropping it to Lance Storm.
The brief singles run should have been the start of the most important and successful year of Albert's life but, instead, he found himself lost in the shuffle as the Invasion angle overtook WWE television. Soon, he was stuck in a tag team with Scotty 2 Hotty, his killer instinct castrated in favor of a "Hip Hop Hippo" nickname.
Together, the team made for a solid opening match act, but Albert never appeared 100 percent comfortable in the role.
Thus, when he betrayed Scotty following a 2002 loss to Billy and Chuck and returned to his heel ways, it was a welcome sight.
In late 2002, Albert continued to find himself wasting away on the midcard of the SmackDown brand, with little to no opportunity to advance up the ranks. With Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle, Edge, Rey Mysterio, Los Guerreros and Brock Lesnar dominating television time, it became abundantly clear that he would need something, or someone, to help him stand out in the world of outstanding pro wrestlers.
Enter Paul Heyman, who repackaged him as the A-Train and briefly became his manager.
The big man feuded with Edge right out of the gate, injuring Rey Mysterio to set up the program.
From there, he remained part of the show, floating in and out of TV rivalries and even enjoying an association with Vince McMahon in the summer of 2003 that saw him run through Stephanie McMahon and allow Sable to pick up a huge pay-per-view victory.
A program with the Undertaker led to a SummerSlam match between them, but A-Train was still missing that one quality win. He would never get that victory, instead losing to the likes of Benoit and Angle before being drafted to the Raw brand, where he failed miserably to make an impact.
On November 1, 2004, six years after his debut with the company, he was released from his WWE contract and wished well on his future endeavors.
With his career in North America seemingly over, Bloom left the States to venture into Japan, where monstrous heavyweights his size could achieve great things as rare attractions.
As Giant Bernard, he achieved some measurable singles success during his time in New Japan Pro Wrestling, even wrestling fellow WWE alumnus Brock Lesnar for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. As the story of his career had been to that point, though, he enjoyed much more success when he entered a tag team with fellow American "Machine Gun" Karl Anderson, a member of today's immensely popular Bullet Club.
As the team of Bad Intentions, they were part of the CHAOS faction and made life miserable for the competition.
During the seven years he spent in the orient, Bernard worked with the likes of Prince Devitt (Finn Balor in NXT), the Dudley Boyz, Yuji Nagata and even TNA's Bobby Roode and James Storm.
While he was highly successful, amassing tag title reigns with both Anderson and Travis Tomko, the allure of stardom in the United States pulled him back to Vince McMahon's promotion in 2012.
Tensai, Commentating and NXT
When Bloom returned to WWE the night after WrestleMania as the great Japanese warrior Tensai, it looked like a star-making vehicle. The pre-taped vignettes were strong, his presentation was as well. Best yet, he scored numerous squash victories, then graduated to beating main event stars like John Cena and CM Punk clean in the center of the ring.
It appeared as though Tensai would be the character to finally elevate Bloom to greatness in WWE.
Then he just sort of fell off the proverbial rocket ship and back into the mangled mess that was the midcard. Any momentum he had built for himself disappeared and by the time he began losing to Santino Marella and Zack Ryder, it became clear that his days as a valuable main eventer disappeared the minute he returned to the states.
Eventually, with the killer Japanese warrior gimmick no longer effective, he was paired with Brodus Clay in the tag team known as "Tons of Funk," something that must have been incredibly humbling for Bloom to endure.
By 2014, he stepped away from the squared circle and became a commentator for NXT under the name Jason Albert. There, he took pride in being able to tell the stories of the young talent waging war inside the squared circle in an attempt to help them get over with the audience.
When Bill DeMott was let go from the company, Albert was named interim head trainer of NXT. And in May, he was promoted to that role full time, finally earning him the respect of management and the success he sought for so many years in the land of sports entertainment.