WWE | Pro Wrestling

Mark Henry, Pro Wrestling’s Strongest Surprise – Inside The Wheelhouse

Mark Henry ChampionOne of the best stories when it comes to the world of wrestling in 2011 will be about a guy who has been on the WWE roster since 1996 and hasn’t received a big break until 2011. Many wrestlers have come and go but this one wrestler remains. He has had his fair share of ups and downs & has been criticized by some for still remaining under contract with the WWE. This man, after nearly 15 years, is the current World Heavyweight Champion, the same man who despite being under contract for so long, has sent a breath of fresh air into the WWE product.

Mark Henry is not your average technologically sound wrestler like a Bret Hart or Chris Jericho we get that. But he is one of the best portrayals of a “monster heel” that we have seen in quite sometime and quite possibly this entire decade. The same decade that has been plagued with the John Cena & Randy Orton’s of the world overcome all odds, every single match, to consistently win titles year after year, month after month and sometimes, week after week.

The WWE has tried this experiment once before when it comes to Mark Henry. In 2006 he chased the World Heavyweight Championship on the Smackdown brand when it was occupied by Batista (prior to his injury in January 2006) and Kurt Angle when he captured the title in battle royal after jumping the ship from RAW & turn face in the process. Henry was a major heel in the WWE during this time as he feuded with Kurt Angle at the Royal Rumble and battled The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 22.

Many wrestlers would look at opportunities like feuding with Kurt Angle for the World Heavyweight Championship at the Royal Rumble and battling The Undertaker at WrestleMania as major career achievements. Despite all that he never rose to the fame that was being paved for him during this time as he suffered a torn patella tendon injury in the summer of 2006 and never got the “monster heel” fame he was been poised as until most recently.

In 2008 Henry would have runs in the WWE’s version of ECW and captured the ECW Championship at that time but we all know how the WWE perceived the WWECW during this time period as it was more of a “third rate champion” then anything. Henry was a World Champion technically but he wasn’t even near the status he had captured in 2006. It appeared Henry was headed to never reaching a career plateau in the world of wrestling, something he had been trying to do since signing with the WWE in 1996.

Then the WWE moved Henry back to the Smackdown brand earlier this year and once again led him down the path of the monster heel we saw them build in 2006. He was having pretty good “big man” matches with The Big Show & Kane, while “injuring” them in the process and was headed towards an eventual Main Event feud with World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton. The writing on the wall was pointing to the “same old stuff” we see on WWE TV when a heel has some heat and is immediately cut off at the pass by the “supermen” of the WWE, Randy Orton or John Cena.

But then the unthinkable happened as the WWE had Mark Henry pin Randy Orton, cleanly I might add, to win his first World Heavyweight Championship. The wrestling world was in shock as no one saw this coming. The unpredictability of Mark Henry winning the World Heavyweight Championship was something wrestling fans craved for.

The WWE then followed that up with another clean victory over Randy Orton to retain the World Heavyweight Championship weeks later at the Hell in a Cell PPV proving that the WWE was ready to help create Mark Henry as a monster heel that would breathe new life into their current fledging brand.

Mark Henry, despite being on the roster for 15 years and not setting the world on fire with his matches, is breathing new life into the WWE product. For fans who enjoy “classic” storylines, this is your classic “monster heel” storyline. This is best person to help create new stars and make them believable. He is the type of wrestler you want going up against a Cena, Orton, CM Punk or Sheamus because you don’t know if they can actually beat the monster heel.

Fans like seeing faces overcome the odds and that is the line that has been set by having Mark Henry do what he has been able to accomplish in a career defining month. It is also your classic equation for success when it comes to feuds and matches. The face can’t also come out on top and beat the odds every single match, the wrestling fan wants to see a feud where they don’t know who wins and pushing Mark Henry like they have has been able to at least give us one heel that can pull that off.

I don’t expect 5 star matches from Mark Henry but I do expect great feuds & entertaining/compelling matches. I can’t believe I am saying this but Mark Henry has breathed new life into the Smackdown brand and more importantly, the WWE product.

For more on this topic join Eric Gargiulo & myself for the Thursday October 13 th edition of “The Still Real to Us Show” and download the show at www.wheelhouseradio.com and can be downloaded in the “Real Guy Radio” section of the site..”

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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