WWE is known for making questionable decisions involving their talents, especially on the creative side. This is going to be a weekly series analyzing where WWE, or, in some cases, the talents themselves dropped the ball and failed in the eyes of us fans. To lay a few rules down for this series, the talent in question will normally be a currently employed or recently released superstar, must either work or have worked significant amount of time in the lower card, and must have had a major push. And what better way to start this series than with the biggest flop in recent memory, Tensai!
Lord Tensai debuted on April 2, 2012, with Sakamoto, and annihilated Alex Riley in a squash match. Although this was a debut for the Lord Tensai character, it was not the first time Matt Bloom had been in WWE, as he was originally Albert and A-Train in a previous run. He would then squash Yoshi Tatsu the following week on Raw. On April 16th’s Raw, Tensai would get a massive push, by beating John Cena in an Extreme Rules match. Lord Tensai would then beat stars such as CM Punk and R-Truth before suffering his first loss in a 3-on-2 Handicap match, teaming with Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger against John Cena and Sheamus on May 21st’s Raw. During this time, Lord Tensai had to suffer through crowds that just would not let him live down his past as Albert. WWE had him drop the Lord part of his name, lose his robe and helmet that he was wearing to the ring, and eventually ditch Sakamoto, all in hopes of making the character more identifiable to the audience. This would also mark the beginning of his downward slide.
Tensai would suffer his first singles loss against Sheamus on June 11th’s Raw. He would then win a Money in the Bank Qualifying match over Justin Gabriel on June 29th’s Smackdown. Tensai would then start a mini-feud with Tyson Kidd, in which Kidd upset Tensai multiple times. After this, would start becoming a “jobber to the stars”, losing to people such as Randy Orton, Sheamus, and Sin Cara. On the September 28th edition of Smackdown, Tensai would lose to Ryback. The following Raw would have them face off again, and would be where the now infamous “sandbagging” incident occurred. After this, Tensai would be buried in the card. He would then also be humiliated into wearing lingerie for a dance-off, which would lead to his face turn and teaming with Brodus Clay. This is seemingly giving him a modicum of success, but the real question here is where did he go wrong?
Honestly, Tensai was failed from the start. If WWE had brought him back as A-Train, cutting a promo on how he destroyed all of his competition in Japan and now he was back to do the same in WWE, the fans would have embraced his character and made the main event push stick. Instead, we got Hakushi part 2. It made absolutely no sense to bring back an American like he was a feudal Japanese warlord! But Creative’s fallacies aren’t the only ones to blame, as yet again, we the fans failed to see past Tensai’s history and give him a proper chance in this new gimmick. We want to say that fans have short memories, but that is obviously selective. I will admit the gimmick is bad, but fans started chanting “Albert” at him on the first night.
But there is one person in all of this I cannot blame, and that is Tensai himself. I know what you are asking, “But what about the Sandbag he did to Ryback”, and it is clear to me what happened there, and I hope to explain that here. This first clip is from the Smackdown before the incident.
As you can see, Ryback has no trouble lifting Tensai up for Shellshock here. He does what he always does, which is plant his shoulders and neck into Tensai’s stomach and deadlifts him up. Tensai gives no help, as adding in even a slight jump could cause problems. I had to deadlift people into a Firemen’s Carry while I was in the Air Force, and when someone would try to help by adding in a slight jump, it would cause a lot of pressure to the lifter’s back. Now here is the clip from Raw.
Notice the major difference? Instead of lifting at Tensai’s stomach like before, Ryback lifted Tensai at his chest. From experience, this causes an uneven weight distribution, which made it impossible for Ryback to get him up properly. Also, this had been Ryback’s longest match since returning to active competition, at around five minutes. He was starting to gas out. So I don’t blame Tensai for what ultimately looks to be a rookie’s mistake.
While I have pointed fingers and laid blame on those that have shown themselves to be guilty, I have not said what could be done to fix Tensai’s failure, but that is because I feel that WWE is already working towards that goal. Do I want to see him become the Hip-Hop Hippo again? Not in the slightest. But it does help revive a struggling Tag Team Division. So maybe this is a two birds with one stone kind of fix.
Thanks for reading this piece, and if you have a suggestion for me to cover in this series, then please send it in the comments below! Until next time!