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For reasons that don't even hold up to rudimentary scrutiny, Mark Henry has recieved yet another huge push by the WWE. The difference between this one and the last eight or nine is that this one has lead to a Smackdown title reign and a huge amount of love from the smark community.
Henry winning the Smackdown world title isn't all that big of a surprise. After the Kane and Great Khali title reigns, the bar for champions is already several notches below the old WWF Intercontinental champions. As a wrestling fan for many years of my life, I've grown to accept such booking as a way of life that I simply shouldn't fret over. If I threw a fit over every inexplicable booking decision involving champions, I would've died of a heart attack back in 1991.
What I can't accept, though, is the inexplicable love the Internet Wrestling Community (IWC) has been showering on Mark Henry, of all people.
"Henry's finally gotten his due," they say. "Henry deserves it. He brings a lot to the table. Let's have Henry face the Undertaker again!"
Actually, I already have a pretty good idea on why people love Mark Henry so much. Regardless of how bad somebody is at wrestling, if they're ever booked as hot sh*t, look imposing, and can execute their moves without obviously botching them, who wouldn't like them? Ultimate Warrior became a huge star by doing slightly over two thirds of that.
But the thing is, that trick shouldn't fool the supposedly "smart" fans. It never works in the long run. Regardless of mark or smark fan status, people stop flocking to buildings once the guy who's made champion can't cut the mustard. Ultimate Warrior's live gates and pay-per-view (PPV) buyrates were the largest drop-offs of revenue the WWF had ever seen once they made Warrior champion instead of Hulk Hogan.
Hell, the Kane title reign worked exactly the same as Mark Henry's reign, it happened only a year ago, and people consider the Kane title reign the worst thing the WWE has done in years.
Why does Henry get the pass?
Before mustering up a defense, it's best to ask some important questions about Henry.
- Henry has been a pro wrestler for almost two decades, but has he ever had a match that was even at a level one would consider "good," let alone great?
- Henry winning the title was lauded because the guy who was with the company forever finally "got his due," but what does it even mean for a guy to "get his due" when the guy in question is Mark Henry? Henry has received more money in base pay than any other wrestler in WWE history despite never being a draw, never having even one great match, and never cutting a particularly great promo. Shouldn't one million dollars guaranteed a year be more than enough?
- It also shouldn't be suggested that Mark Henry hasn't received enough opportunities. He has already received major pushes by WWE in 1996, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. Henry has worked major matches with Rey Mysterio, Shawn Michaels, Kurt Angle, and worked a WrestleMania match with Undertaker, and all those matches sucked, often with people blaming his opponents declining abilities for the matches being bad. Would this pattern be acceptable for anyone else in the company?
- Henry was offered his huge contract because of his huge physique, and the fact that he was competing to win the 1996 Olympics, which was a laughable proposition even in 1996. Henry didn't even place in the single digits of the 1992 Olympics, which he competed at a time when he had a healthy back.
- Ignoring that Henry was an Olympian in an event completely unrelated to pro wrestling (he was a weightlifter, as most already know), a lot of people who competed in the Olympics who did much better than Mark Henry never earned base pay even close to what he did while competing in actual combat sports events. Ken Shamrock beat U.S. Olympic Judo team member Christophe Leininger in his debut UFC fight back in 1994, did Shamrock earn close to what Henry earned? Hiroshi Hase actually placed in the single digits in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Greco-Roman wrestling, was Hase even offered a contract by the WWF? This doesn't even get into men like Kurt Angle and Danny Hodge.
- People say that Mark Henry's a great heel because of how dominant he is, but any booker could make any wrestler on any roster dominant; it doesn't make them good. A great heel should be a guy who makes you want to pay money to see them get their ass kicked in a match, and is there anyone that people actually want to see Mark Henry face in a wrestling match?
- For that matter, is their anybody in WWE alone of a suitable "hoss" build who couldn't get the exact same push, with or without Vickie Guerrero as their mouthpiece, and be better at everything than Henry if only for the fact that said hoss would probably be easier to lift for their opponent?
In the end, the only justification for Henry being champion is "he's big," and "he's a nice guy," which is little reason to love the guy who should be the number two most important person in the company. John Cena meets both those qualifications, but does anyone ever want to see Cena even contend for the belt again unless he's facing CM Punk on PPV a third time? Let alone steamroll the entire company again?
It's time for people to give up on their Mark Henry love. If a guy can make $1 million a year despite being terrible at the job they've had for two decades, they don't deserve anything extra from anybody.