If there was ever proof that being cut by WWF/E at some point after failing to work out is not the end of your wrestling career and that sometimes a change of scenery can do you real good, it’s New Japan’s top gaijin, Giant Bernard. Best known to US fans as the former Prince Albert/Albert/A-Train in WWF/E, Bernard has competed in Japan since 2005, and for New Japan since 2006.
After a brief stint in the NFL and a career as a teacher, Bernard, who had aspired to wrestle professionally as a child, met wrestler and wrestling trainer Killer Kowalski and expressed an interest in learning how to wrestle. Kowalski invited him to his wrestling school so he opted to quit teaching and be a wrestler. He debuted in 1997 with the name “Baldo”. After fellow legend George Steele introduced him to talent scout Tom Prichard, Bernard was hired by WWF and got training with the legendary Dory Funk Jr. was assigned to the Power Pro Wrestling (PPW) developmental territory in Memphis, Tennessee, where he wrestled as Baldo. He won a couple of PPW Titles down there and feuded with top star Jerry Lawler. He debuted in WWF in January 1999 and became Prince Albert, the personal tattooist of Darren “Droz” Drozdov. Droz and Albert continued to team together until Droz was paralyzed in October 1999, at which point Albert became the protege of the Big Bossman. The team split up after the debut of Bull Buchanan.
In March 2000, he formed the big team known as T&A with Test, managed by Trish Stratus. T & A, competed in the tag team division throughout 2000, feuding with rival tag teams such as the Dudley Boyz and the Acolytes Protection Agency. They separated in December when Albert turned on Test. In early 2001 he formed the X-Factor Stable with Justin Credible & X-Pac, and won the WWF Intercontinental Championship a few months later. X-Factor then split up due to Credible leaving the faction and X-Pac injuries. Albert then became “The Hip Hop Hippo” and teamed with Scotty 2 Hotty. He would be stuck in the low and mid-card until the end of 2002, when he underwent a gimmick change and became “A-Train”.
A-Train and Big Show lost to The Undertaker at WrestleMania XIX. A-Train feuded with The Undertaker, whom he wrestled at SummerSlam, and Chris Benoit, whom he wrestled at No Mercy. At Survivor Series, he wrestled alongside Brock Lesnar in a ten man Survivor Series match. He competed in the 2004 Royal Rumble match, but was eliminated by the eventual winner, Chris Benoit. When Benoit decided to compete against Triple H for the World Championship on the Raw brand, General Manager Paul Heyman held a SmackDown! style Royal Rumble where the winner would meet Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship at No Way Out. He was eliminated by Eddie Guerrero, who went on to win the match. The alliance with Lesnar ended in March 2004 when Bloom was drafted to the Raw brand. A-Train debuted on Raw on June 7. On June 21, he suffered a torn rotator cuff. Before returning from injury, he was released from his WWE contract on November 1, 2004. He holds the distinction of wrestling in the first match on ‘Jakked’, against Ken Shamrock, and the last match, against Hugh Morris. He briefly did some indy work then it was off to Japan.
In March 2005, he debuted in All-Japan and changed his ring name to Giant Bernard, a reference to fellow gaijin Brute Bernard. He went on to join the Voodoo Murders stable alongside fellow WWE alumni Chuck Palumbo and Johnny Stamboli. After an unsuccessful challenge for the Triple Crown, he jumped to New Japan in early 2006. As a foreign big man in the promotion he got a very quick push-in April he won the annual New Japan Cup and subsequently received an IWGP Heavyweight Title shot, but came up short against Lesnar. After Lesnar vacated the title soon after, Bernard entered a tournament to determine the new champion, but lost in the finals to Hiroshi Tanahashi. He then participated in the G1 Climax Tournament a short time later, reaching the semifinals before losing. After this he began teaming with fellow WWE castoff Travis Tomko and together they won the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, holding the titles for 11 months before losing them. Tomko then left for TNA, so Bernard began teaming with former WCW wrestler Rick Fuller as another big man tag team. In September Bernard betrayed stablemates Shinsuke Nakamura & Hirooki Goto and joined Hiroyoshi Tenzan’s GBH (Great Bash Heel) stable. While he has yet to really break through in singles action and win the IWGP Heavyweight Title, he has remained right on the cusp of the top tier and continues to also be a top contender in the tag team ranks. He is getting another big push in fall 2009 as he won his second G1 Tag League, this time with fellow gaijin Karl Anderson. He then won the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles with Anderson in June 2010, they have since formed their own stable based on their team name, Bad Intentions. He also has shown that being cut from WWE is not the end of the world, and that for those castaways Japan can be a great place to revive your career, as Bernard has gone from being a forgettable afterthought saddled with joke gimmicks to having a very respectable career since moving to the Far East.
Stats & info:
Real name: Matthew Bloom
Weight: 331 pounds/150 kg
Experience: 14 years
Finishing move: Bernard Bomb, Bernard Driver, Magic Killer
Current affiliation: New Japan
2-time IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champion
1-time GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Champion
1-time WWF Intercontinental Champion
1-time IZW Heavyweight Champion
1-time PPW Heavyweight Champion
1-time PPW Young Guns Champion
2006 New Japan Cup
2007 G1 Tag League
2009 G1 Tag League
Ranked #53 In 2008 PWI 500