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Wrestling / Matt Bloom

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Matthew Jason Bloom (born November 14, 1972) is an American professional wrestling trainer, former professional wrestler and former National Football League player.

After briefly playing in the National Football League for the San Diego Chargers, Bloom became a schoolteacher. After rewarding his most apt students with a trip to a professional wrestling event, Bloom, who as a child had aspired to wrestle professionally, met wrestler and wrestling trainer Killer Kowalski and expressed an interest in learning how to wrestle. Kowalski invited Bloom to attend his school, and Bloom opted to leave teaching and train as a wrestler. Bloom started out in the independent circuit wrestling notable names such as Sgt. Slaughter, Bart Gunn, Shawn Stasiak, and Jerry Lawler, under both his real name and as Baldo, a gimmick that saw him wear a fur rug to the ring.

After being introduced to talent scouts by George Steele, Bloom was hired by the WWF. He debuted on WWF television on April 1999 on an episode of Sunday Night Heat as the personal tattooist of Droz, saving him from a beating at the hands of Big Bossman. Bloom was named Prince Albert, and together with Droz they formed a short-lived tag team until Droz was paralyzed in October 1999, at which point Albert became the protege of the Big Bossman. The duo separated following the debut of Bull Buchanan, who formed a tag team with the Big Bossman.

In March 2000, Bloom, now known simply as Albert, was recruited by Trish Stratus to form a tag team with Test. The tag team, known as T&A, competed in the tag team division throughout 2000, feuding with rival tag teams such as The Dudley Boys and the Acolytes (Farooq and Bradshaw). In December 2000, the team split. In April 2001, Albert formed a stable called X-Factor with Justin Credible and X-Pac (of X-Pac Heat fame). On June 28, he defeated Kane with help from Diamond Dallas Page to win the Intercontinental Championship, his first WWF championship and his most notable singles title. Albert later lost it to Alliance member Lance Storm on July 23. Afterwards, Credible left X-Factor and joined The Alliance, and Albert and X-Pac continued X-Factor as a tag team until November, when X-Pac was sidelined with an injury. In late 2001, Albert was nicknamed "The Hip Hop Hippo" as he began teaming with Scotty 2 Hotty. Upon the introduction of the Brand Extension, both Bloom and Hotty were assigned to the SmackDown! brand. They disbanded on April 2002 after Albert attacked Scotty after the duo failed to defeat Billy and Chuck for the World Tag Team Championship.

Subsequently, he debuted a new attire (which saw fans often chant "Shave your back!" at him during his matches due to his hairy torso), but spent much of his time on Velocity until December 2002, when he joined forces with Paul Heyman and The Big Show, which saw Heyman persuade him to rename himself to A-Train. He and Big Show lost a handicap match to The Undertaker at WrestleMania XIX, after which A-Train continued the feud, culminating in a match at SummerSlam, that A-Train lost, and at Survivor Series, was on Brock Lesnar's team in a ten-man Survivor Series match, where he was eliminated about 30 seconds into the match. His appereances became less sporadic afterwards, before being sidelined with a torn rotator cuff and released from his WWE contract on November 2004 before he could return from said injury.

In March 2005, Bloom began wrestling for the Japanese All Japan Pro Wrestling promotion, adopting the ring name Giant Bernard. However, by January 2006, Bloom had left AJPW and joined the rival New Japan Pro-Wrestling promotion. In April 2006, he defeated Yuji Nagata in the finals of the 2006 New Japan Cup. As a result of his victory, Bloom received a shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, unsuccessfully challenging IWGP Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar on May 3. In July 2006, following the vacation of the IWGP Heavyweight Championship by Lesnar, Bloom entered a tournament for the title, losing to Hiroshi Tanahashi in the tournament final. In August 2006, Bloom took part in the 2006 G1 Climax Tournament, losing to Hiroyoshi Tenzan in the semifinals.

Bernard would go on to win IWGP Tag Team Championship once with Travis Tomko, with whom he won the 2007 G1 Tag League. In 2009, Bernard and the rest of Great Bash Heel stable he was part of, left to join Shinsuke Nakamura and form a new stable known as Chaos. Bernard formed the tag team Bad Intentions with Chaos partner Karl Anderson and together the two of them went on to win that year's G1 Tag League after defeating Apollo 55 (Prince Devitt and Ryusuke Taguchi) in the finals of the tournament on November 1. However, it wasn't until after getting kicked out of the stable altogether in April 2010 and turning face that they successfully captured the IWGP Tag Team Championship on June, held them for over a year and a half, and became arguably the greatest gaijin tag team in New Japan's history. On January 4, 2012 at Wrestle Kingdom VI in Tokyo Dome, Bad Intentions lost the IWGP Tag Team Championship to Tencozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima), ending their record-setting reign at 564 days. Shortly after their reign ended, Bernard left NJPW to return to WWE.

On April, Bloom made his WWE re-debut as a heel Wrestling Monster, Lord Tensai. In the following weeks, Tensai went on a winning streak, scoring pinfall victories over lower card wrestlers and even main stars including John Cena and WWE Champion CM Punk. He soon dropped the "Lord" portion of his ring name and his Japanese outfit worn during his entrance, remaining just Tensai. Following this, Tensai began losing much more frequently throughout the rest of 2012, beginning with Cena ending his winning streak, before he started to suffer loses to the likes of Sheamus, Tyson Kidd, Randy Orton, and Ryback. By December, Tensai was reduced to a comedy act, being forced to wear women's dresses and getting squashed by Santino Marella.

Towards the end of January 2013, Brodus Clay would come out to support Tensai, which eventually turned Tensai face, forming a tag team with Clay called Tons of Funk, with Tensai, while not "officially" changing his name, being referred to now by the nickname "Sweet T". They were scheduled to have a eight-person mixed tag team match alongside The Funkadactyls (Cameron and Naomi) against Team Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow) and the Bella Twins at WrestleMania 29, but their match was cut due to time constraints, with the match instead taking place the following night on Raw, where Tons of Funk and The Funkadactyls emerged victorious. In November 2013, Tons of Funk began to show signs of instability once Clay started a storyline where he became angry and jealous of the debuting Xavier Woods. As Clay began to exhibit more heel-oriented tendencies, such as repeatedly attacking Woods after he had defeated Woods in a match, Sweet T and the Funkadactyls slowly became alienated from him, eventually resulting in them leaving him, and to Sweet T defeating Clay on their eventual blowoff match.

After Tons of Funk disbanded, Bloom was taken off television and, in January 2014, began working in WWE's developmental territory NXT as a commentator under the new name Jason Albert. On August, Bloom announced his retirement from in-ring competition and that he would begin working as a trainer in the WWE Performance Center, resuming his teaching profession. On March 2015, Bloom was promoted to NXT head trainer following the departure of Bill DeMott.

"Matt Bloom's tropes ICHIBAN!!!":

  • Artifact Name: His original ring name in WWE, Prince Albert, came from when he was introduced as Darren Drozdrov's personal piercing and tattoo artist, as a Punny Name on "Prince Albert" being also the name of a penis piercing. He kept on the "Albert" part of his name in his later ring names and gimmicks (Albert, A-Train) well after the piercing /tattoo artist gimmick ended.
  • Bald of Evil: He's usually a heel, and he's been bald since the beginning of his wrestling career.
  • Big Fun: His face runs generally have him as this, if the Hip-Hop Hippo and Sweet T are anything to go by.
  • The Big Guy: As a face, what with standing 6 ft 7 in and weighting over 330 lbs.
  • The Brute: As a heel. During his run in T&A he became notable for his roaring whenever he executed a high-impact maneuver. And then there were the makeovers as A-Train, Giant Bernard, and (Lord) Tensai.
  • Butt-Monkey: Was one for a time, during his gimmick change and losing streak in 2012, before he started teaming with Brodus Clay.
  • Carpet of Virility: Had it on his chest and back, and it was HORRIFYING. It often caused the crowd to chant "Shave your back!", especially after he started to wrestle barechested as A-Train. He finally shaved it during his time as Giant Bernard.
  • Catchphrase: As both Giant Bernard and Lord Tensai, it's "ICHIBAN!!!" And no, it's not a reference to an obscure lipstick sold by Joey from Friends. Bernard was in New Japan Pro Wrestling and Tensai was an ex-pat Japanese tribute gimmick.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Back in 1999, he executed a falling powerslam on the 500 pound Viscera, even if he hurt his back doing it.
  • Facepalm of Doom: Used this as Lord Tensai as part of his finisher, before it was phased out as part of his makeover.
  • Finishing Move:
    • A chokebomb through most of his career (except during his time as Giant Bernard) that had many different names for every different name he had: the Baldo Bomb (as Baldo/Albert), the Albert Bomb (as Prince Albert/Albert), the Derailer (as A-Train), and Ichiban (as Lord Tensai/Tensai).
    • He also tended to have a second finishing move to compliment the chokebomb:
      • As Prince Albert/Albert, he had a military press dropped into a sitout scoop slam piledriver.
      • As A-Train, he had the Train Wreck (Overhead gutwrench backbreaker rack drop).
      • As Lord Tensai/Tensai, he had a clawhold STO and the Gomennasai (Running senton).
    • As Giant Bernard, he had the Bernard Bomb (Elevated sitout powerbomb) and the Bernard Driver (Reverse piledriver).
  • Foreign Wrestling Heel: Most of the time in Japan. WWE tried to play this too and sell him as Japanese, but nobody bought it.
  • The Giant: Stands 6 ft 7 in tall, so it's not hard to be advertised as an unstoppable killing machine.
  • Lightning Bruiser: He can move pretty fast for a big guy, which made his "A-Train" ring name all the more apt, as he often came at his opponents like one.
  • Odd Couple: With Brodus Clay. Tensai was a guy who cut his teeth in Japan, Clay was a guy who just wanted to have fun and dance.
  • Power Stable: In New Japan Pro Wrestling: Rise, Great Bash Heel, and Chaos.
  • Red Baron: We can't forget the "Hip-Hop Hippo", as he was called, teaming with Scotty 2 Hotty. New Japan also gave him the more dignified "Bousou Kikansha" (Japanese for "Runaway Locomotive", likely as a nod to his "A-Train" name in WWE).
  • Retool: Underwent one as higher ups weren't all that impressed by him after his re-debut in WWE as Lord Tensai, as the crowd easily recognized him and started chanting "Albert!" They dropped the "Lord" part of his name, the robe, the "ICHIBAN!" shout, mist and his follower Sakamoto.
  • Screaming Warrior: Tends to roar before executing a high-impact maneuver. He eventually added shouting "ICHIBAN!" in Japan.
  • Shout-Out: During his Lord Tensai run, kept doing the "ICHIBAN!" shout he did as Giant Bernard in New Japan Pro Wrestling.
  • Simple, yet Awesome: His Clawhold STO during the early Tensai days. You just sweep your opponent's leg and slam their head to the ground, no heavy lifting required (like with a normal Chokeslam). However, his unnecessarily elaborate setup for it usually suffered from Awesome, but Impractical.
  • Stern Teacher: Presented this way as NXT's head coach in Breaking Ground. He's tough but well-liked and respected by the Performance Center trainees. (And a huge step up from his predecessor, who resigned in 2015 amid allegations of bullying and harrassing current and former trainees)
  • Tattooed Crook: Returned to WWE with numerous tattoos that represented his 6-year tenure in New Japan.
  • Took a Level in Badass: With all due respect to his time in WWE and AJPW, through six years in New Japan, he managed to win the New Japan Cup, win the G1 Tag League twice (once with Travis Tomko and once with Karl Anderson), have two IWGP tag title reigns (again with Tomko then Anderson) that lasted over a year, and battle main event players like Riki Choshu, Yuji Nagata, Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle on a main event level. This run was so strong that his gimmick upon returning to WWE was that of a man completely transformed by his success in Japan, and during the initial period of this gimmick (meaning before WWE didn't know how to deal with people remembering he was Albert) he obtained a show-closing victory over John Cena.
  • The Worf Effect: Tons of Funk Worfed for the debuting Wyatt Family. Clay's heel turn and the team breakup followed.