Looks like Mark Henry may have one last run in him.
WWE has been teasing his eventual return on its official website, showing off pics of his new look. His big, bushy beard is still intact; however, he shaved all his hair off and went on a diet. That's enabled him to drop some weight and get back into the gym full time.
"The World's Strongest Man" explains to WWE.com:
"The liberation part of it. Just get rid of [the hair]. It's been 10 years. New look, not to mention genetics. My hairline was starting to look like Stevie Wonder. I'm feeling great. I'm 410 pounds. First time I've been 410 since 2005. My diet is working well, my strength is through the roof. I think the WWE universe will see me when the time is right. That's being pretty vague, but that's just what it is. I'm not hiding nothing. When I'm ready to come back, you'll see me back."
See pics of his dome here.
To give you an idea of what 410 means to Mark Henry, consider that he weighed 390 as a senior in high school, when he won the super-heavyweight title in the National High School Powerlifting Championships. But the mere 20 pounds that separates those two physiques do not tell the whole tale.
Henry is too fat.
I don't think that's any big secret. He's been too fat for years. But there has never been a reason to do anything about it, simply because he was talented enough to overcome his excessive weight. Agile for a big man, Henry could deliver a serviceable promo and as always, could bench press a Volkswagen.
But those days may be over.
At 43 years of age, Henry has been spending more time on the sidelines healing from injuries than he has competing inside the ring. He can't even cut a promo these days without sweating profusely. And you can forget about a title run, because he's too unreliable -- physically speaking -- to carry the company's flag.
He knows it, and has probably known it for awhile, but it looks like he's finally doing something about it.
I'm sure part of that has to do with the fact that Father Time is waiting to be tagged in. The other part, I would assume, is pride. Henry has been wrestling for 17 years and as far back as 2000 was asked to work on his conditioning. His inconsistency could explain why he's only held three titles -- each just one time -- since 1996.
ECW Championship, WWF European Championship and World Heavyweight Championship.
You can argue that his run as World Heavyweight Champion in 2011 was his finest work to date, but once again he lost his momentum shortly thereafter due to injury. The only "Hall of Pain" Henry entered was his own, and reportedly suffered "huge heat" for it.
A bum hamstring would soon follow.
While WWE fans have been patient with the gentle giant, it may take a lot of convincing on Henry's part to earn Creative's trust. There are no guarantees he can carry a major program these days without getting hurt. That's a shame, too, because as we saw less than a year ago, he can be one of the best in the world.
But having a ton of potential is different than living up to it. Henry has done some astonishing things in his career and it's almost unthinkable to imagine him clocking in 20 years under the WWE banner and never winning the big one. And I don't mean as a transitional WWE Champion or a belt warmer in between programs.
I mean the type of championship reign that won't be forgotten three months after it ends.
That would require a program with one of the other top dogs in the company, like John Cena or CM Punk, who had a terrific run with Henry not long ago. Randy Orton is always an option but above all else, he still has some unfinished business with Daniel Bryan (says me).
Or, he could just come back, paint-by-numbers and call it a career.
That would be a shame, because I know after seeing his entire body of work (pun intended) there can be so much more. And judging by what I've seen on WWE.com, it appears he knows it as well. But like Morpheus once said, there's a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path.
Either way, I'm still boarding the "Pain Train," I just hope it's able to leave the station while there's someplace left to go.