The former A-Train returned to the promotion to much fan interest after several years away from WWE wrestling in Japan. During this time he improved as a worker and became a genuinely big star for Pro Wrestling NOAH.
His return was not only heralded by a series of vignettes but also a new character that was different to everything else on the roster. With his height and bulk, not to mention his improvement in the ring, the feeling was that Matt Bloom would receive a big push under the new guise of Lord Tensai. There were rumours he would be associated with then on-screen boss John Laurinaitis and feud with John Cena. It looked as though Bloom was going straight to the top.
Anyone who has been watching WWE programming over the last six months will know that this hasn’t happened.
Things started off well enough. Lord Tensai won his first few matches via squash and the commentary team went out of their way to put him over as an experienced competitor, mentioning his time in Japan and the fact that he had had a less than stellar run in WWE a decade before. This is rare behaviour for Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler. That they were putting Tensai over indicated that management had big plans for him.
It was only a few weeks after he’d returned to the promotion that Lord Tensai was permitted the ultimate honour: he defeated John Cena. He didn’t do it clean, David Otunga, John Laurinaitis and his personal manservant Sakamoto all involved themselves in the no disqualification bout and Tensai used the dreaded Green Mist™ finish, but it was still a promising sign. That he was booked to beat Cena, the company’s golden boy, in any fashion was big news.
Tensai has proven a textbook example of how to bury someone. Good work, John...
From there it all just… stopped. Tensai toppled Cena in a few more outings but it didn’t take ‘The CeNation Leader’ long to get his win back. There was no pay-per-view clash between the two and Tensai found himself without any actual storyline. He was simply hired muscle that happened to be doing a Japanese gimmick.
It wasn’t until July’s Money in the Bank, three months after he had returned to WWE, that Tensai wrestled on pay-per-view. He made up the numbers in the World Heavyweight championship MITB clash. By this point fans had accepted he wasn’t going to be used as a headliner: he had been booked to lose numerous times to wrestlers of varying status, from Cena to Tyson Kidd, and had numerous tweaks made to his character (such as the loss of his Lordship) that made him stand out less.
It’s a pity. Had WWE formulated a plan for using Tensai he could have been an interesting addition to the main event scene. His size allows him a surprising amount of versatility: he could be booked as a monster against the likes of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, muscle around giants like Kane and Big Show, or have an intense “slobberknocker” of a match with a guy like Sheamus.
Tensai is one of the few men on the roster who can get a bearable outing from John Cena. WWE can still book this match whenever they like but we’ve seen it several times over the last few months and it won’t feel particularly special anymore.
Had Tensai decisively beaten Cena at Over The Limit and No Way Out he could then have been used as a contender to World Heavyweight champion Sheamus at Money in the Bank. Had that happened then ‘The Celtic Warrior’s’ run with Alberto Del Rio wouldn’t have outstayed its welcome and there would have been a purpose to Tensai’s return to the company.
As things stand right now Tensai is lost in the mid-card and doesn’t look as though he’ll be doing anything meaningful any time soon. Another wasted chance by WWE’s creative team.