It's time to re-open the Hall of Pain.
I'm talking of course, about the return of Mark Henry which is-in theory-rapidly approaching. He's been on the shelf since last spring as he recovers from shoulder surgery and a number of nagging injuries.
Despite some shoddy booking after he dropped the World Heavyweight Championship, Henry was on-without a doubt-the best run of his career. He was given a gimmick that allowed him to run roughshod on his opponents and induct them into the "Hall of Pain."
Ironically enough, this idea was originally cooked up by an injured Brodus Clay while planning out storyline ideas for his return to the roster. We all know how that worked out. Henry got the Hall of Pain gimmick and Brodus Clay got track suits and dinosaur puns.
It's now been roughly one year since Clay re-debuted as a dancing dinosaur and it was at roughly this same time last year that a visibly hobbled Henry was quickly losing the heat he'd spent all summer building. Across the Pacific Ocean, Matt Bloom was in talks to return to the WWE as a new "Japanese" heel named Lord Tensai.
As we head toward WrestleMania and the annual re-boot that seems to follow it, I think we're clearly setting the stage for the next great monster stable, the Hall of Pain.
We currently have Brodus Clay and Tensai becoming dancing buddies and it seems only logically-to me anyway-that the next evolutionary step, on a roster already jam-packed with "comedy" acts, is to turn them heel and unleash them as monsters.
They've got built-in reasons that work very, very well.
Clay was a monster and then he got hurt. He was built back up as a monster and then his debut was pushed back time and time and time again by John Laurinaitis until finally the dancing dino emerged.
Tensai was originally Prince Albert, a giant piercing artist. Then he was the Hip Hop Hippo. Then he was A-Train. Then he was unemployed. He went to Japan. He reinvented himself as a monster who worked great matches. He was brought back to the states by the WWE and was promptly given a ridiculous gimmick and a red diaper. He got wins over main-eventers, but no real push to follow-up on those wins. He was then jobbed to the stars and turned into a dancing, diaper-clad comedy act.
So what would be the catalyst for these two to turn on the system and the fans?
Who knows embarrassment at the hand (see what I did there?) of the front office better than Mark Henry?
He fathered a hand with an octogenarian. He got to second base with a transvestite. He danced with Hornswoggle. He was dressed up like the World's Strongest Jug of Kool-Aid.
Needless to say, he's had his fair share of "comedy" gimmicks over the years.
That's why he's the perfect guy to turn Brodus and Tensai around. It's time to open the Hall of Pain.
The booking works perfectly too. You can let Brodus and Tensai serve as dancing buddies or whatever through WrestleMania and suffer a number of embarrassing losses along the way. This leads to the return of Mark Henry who talks some sense into both of them, hopefully with beat downs of his own, in a method very similar to the way Raven used to recruit members of The Flock.
Beat them up. Embarrass them. Show them that they've become jokes.
Then mold them into the monsters they truly are.
Henry and the monster tag team of Clay and Tensai (hopefully w/ a new ring name at this point) could absolutely run wild. The booking works itself out quite easily, put the tag titles on Clay and Tensai once you're ready to move the Rhodes Scholars off as singles and put the WHC back on Henry and let a face chase him all summer long.
Is this crew as sexy and entertaining as The Shield? No.
Is this crew going to absolutely wreck shop and be a believable threat to everyone once they've unleashed their inner-monsters? Yes! Yes! Yes!
It's time to re-open the new and improved Hall of Pain.