I’ve always said that professional wrestling is the most fascinating of all businesses to the point that a lot of the times, the goings on behind the curtain are more intriguing than what’s going on before the audience. Unfortunately, the business is also marred by being incredibly scummy and petty, giving us stories very much like that of the film the Wrestler. Because of that, it’s always nice to see a story that actually gives us a happy ending. Recently, one of the big stories to put a smile on my face is that of Mark Henry.
(Gifs by Jerusalem who is the coolest of cool dudes, except for the Matt Striker one by Klauser, but he’s okay too)
Since I’ve been watching WWE through his entire career, I thought I’d take a second to go over what’s been a pretty interesting and endearing story. Mark Henry competed in the Olympics in 1996 to pretty big fanfare, known for being a record-breaking power lifter. WWF signed him to a major contract of $10 million for ten years, figuring him to be such a big deal that he’d easily be worth the money. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out so well for them. Mark Henry ended up losing at the Olympics due to injuring his back while trying to pick up too much weight. Still, there was much potential in a guy they could label “The World’s Strongest Man”.
Henry made his WWF debut at Summerslam 1996, where he joined the commentary table with Vince McMahon, Jim Ross and Mr. Perfect to watch a match between Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Jerry “The King” Lawler. Henry got involved and it led to him making his wrestling debut against Lawler at the next In Your House PPV. Henry won and proceeded to singlehandedly fight off Marty Jannetty, Leif Cassidy and Hunter Hearst Helmsley. The guy was made to look like this unstoppable patriot who was easy to get behind. Then, in preparation for Survivor Series, Henry got injured. Well, shit.
Henry came back and joined the company’s resident militant black stable the Nation of Domination. His only positive note during this time is that the company booked him to destroy Vader on more than one occasion, causing Vader to experience internal bleeding. Killed momentum aside, there were other problems with Henry. The guy just wasn’t very good in the ring, his weight was starting to balloon a bit and he was getting lost in the shuffle. In 1996, when the company was in dire straights, WWF believed he could give them a push against WCW. But when he was gone, the company began to find itself and new stars rose upwards. Henry simply wasn’t needed.