There’s nothing like 2011 Mark Henry. He was a man on a mission, hell-bent on reaching the top and wouldn’t let anything stand in his way. He was tough, he was vicious and he was merciless. He wanted to maim, he wanted to destroy and he wanted the World Heavyweight Championship.
[adinserter block=”1″]WWE Night of Champions saw him gain that prize and it was the culmination of 15 year’s worth of hard work and sacrifice. It remains my favorite time of his career, a time when his loyalty and dedication finally paid off.
I’m not here to eulogize Mark Henry, far from it. I’m not one of those guys that look at him now and automatically assume his career is dead and that he’s being kept around to fill a big man spot. In fact, I’m of the opinion he still has something to offer.
But the bad part is he’s not being allowed to do much of anything now. The World’s Strongest Man has fallen into The Big Show syndrome and no one wants to be there; not even The Big Show.
Basically, Mark is just kind of floating along now. He has switched sides a few times over the past year or so and at this point it’s anyone’s guess which character they will see on any given night. Will he be evil, mean and nasty or will he be smiling, happy and fun? Will anyone even care?
The problem is WWE is doing what it’s always done; it’s moving ahead. While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, there’s something very wrong with not planning for the guys already there. Henry happens to be one of those guys. Just because Kevin Owens is blowing up and Ryback is getting over, it’s no reason to not take care of the established guys, namely Mark Henry.
So what do you do? What do you do with a 44-year old, 19-year veteran that is not in the main event picture and is just barely on the roster at this point? Simple. Change it.
Sounds like such an easy concept, one that appears to take little to no effort. Just stop misusing Henry, give him a good spot in which he can shine and do all the little things only he can do. No one in the locker room can intimidate like Mark can. No one can overpower like Mark can and no one can scare the life out of you like Mark can.
He was Brock Lesnar before there was a Brock Lesnar. He is a monster in the night, the one that you checked under your bed for as a kid. He is the ferocious animal that ate every other animal in his path just to get to the one he really wanted. He is the one that can walk into any ring on any night and totally dominate everyone in sight.
How do you not use that? How do you let that slip through the cracks as if it doesn’t matter, as if your program doesn’t need that kind of impact to suck fans into the product? How do you let Mark Henry sit on the bench after he’s proven he can contribute at a high level?
He’s a veteran, his best days are behind him, and the world title run was a one shot deal for him. All of that sound familiar? It’s what everyone assumes, it’s what everyone thinks about him and it’s what everyone says right now. But is that the case?
Is Henry’s health an issue? It’s the Dolph Ziggler scenario, in which the company may want to push ahead with him but there’s no faith in him physically anymore. Is that what we’re seeing with Mark? His age would surely play into that, because the older you are, the longer it typically takes to heal up.
Physically, Mark looks great. He’s probably in the best shape of his entire career so any talk of not hitting the gym doesn’t apply to him. His ring work is as good as it ever has been and even though he’s not in his prime anymore, he does not seem to have lost a step.
His character is not the problem. Lousy recent booking aside, Henry is more than capable of connecting to the crowd. No one will ever forget his phony retirement speech, in which he cried about going home to his family. He drew the crowd in, made them feel his pain and made them care. As soon as he did that, he snapped and assaulted John Cena for the punch line. With that single promo, Henry reminded fans of how talented he really is and how much he can do if given the opportunity.
Why not give him that opportunity? If elevating him into a high profile storyline is not in the cards then why not use him in a reduced wrestling role? He could become a bodyguard for a heel, maybe even some hired muscle in The Authority. His ring time could be cut down, saving him some wear and tear while still making the most of his ability to get over.
[adinserter block=”2″]If that’s not feasible then why not use him down in NXT? The amount of knowledge and experience he can pass on to the next generation is invaluable and those talents would surely be grateful to have him around. Why not put Mark in the best position to succeed, especially considering the loyalty he’s shown to WWE from the very beginning?
Maybe the most obvious answer is the true answer. Maybe WWE just doesn’t have anything left for him. Maybe Henry is biding his time until 2016 when he can officially retire after 20 years with the company. Maybe then he will get the respect he truly deserves for all he’s accomplished and all he means to that locker room. That’s an awful lot of maybes.
Mark Henry is one of the good guys and it’s about time he was treated like one.