I understand the need to get new wrestlers over and I can appreciate a well-booked championship challenge. But Mark Henry beating Randy Orton to win the World Heavyweight Championship at Night of Champions 2011 is laughable.
Is Henry better in the ring than Orton? No, he isn’t, not even close. In fact, Henry is at the low end of the food chain when it comes to working ability.
How about on the mic? Can Henry deliver a good promo? Nope. He’s wooden in his delivery, although to be fair, he’s got to say the crap the scriptwriters give him. And these days, we’ll never know whether he has the charisma to give a great promo on his own.
Maybe Henry has got that “it” factor, like “MegaMan” Tom Magee in the late 1980s? Sorry to both Henry and Magee, but Vince McMahon’s judgment of the “it” factor is often preceded by an S and H. Fortunately for all of us, Magee was so terrible in the ring that eventually the memo got to the corner office in Stamford, CT, and his push was cut. Henry, after hanging on for 15 years in the WWE, looks to have figured out how to make sure the system keeps him employed.
Even a time-tested gimmick such as the “world’s strongest man” hasn’t helped Henry. Look at how someone like Ken Patera used that shtick and then compare it to Henry’s efforts. It’s not pretty.
Despite all of those lackluster qualifications, and the fact that Orton is actually one of the best performers they have on the roster, Henry beat Orton solidly. Orton must have a great taste in his mouth now knowing that not only did he lose the belt to a sub-par opponent, but also the opponent that Orton has told everyone he least likes to wrestle.
So why did Henry get the title? The answer is simple and threads throughout WWE and WWF history. Henry is a big man. That’s it. Large wrestlers have given Vince McMahon a hard-on for as long as I can remember, regardless of their skill set. Some big ex-champs are great in the ring or have a ton of charisma, like Hulk Hogan, Yokozuna, or Superstar Billy Graham.
There are so many people that the WWE should have taken a chance on as world champion in the past (“Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase and Vader come to mind), and there are also wrestlers on the roster right now who should get a chance and likely never will (Daniel Bryan). But somehow Henry rises above all and gets the gold ring — and in doing so, he exposes what a joke the hierarchy of the WWE dressing room is.
Scott Wallask has followed wrestling for 30 years and writes about growing up watching the WWF in the 1980s on his blog the Boston Garden Balcony.