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Mark Henry explains why he left WWE for AEW

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Mark Henry made a surprise appearance at AEW’s Double or Nothing 2021 pay-per-view this past weekend (May 30). The company officially announced his signing and explained what his role will entail in talent development and as a broadcaster on their new show Rampage. It’s clear that Tony Khan sees a ton of upside in having Henry as part of the AEW team.

Less than two months ago, Henry expressed interest in coming out of retirement, but I never considered that his final match might happen in any other wrestling company besides WWE. So what caused The World’s Strongest Man to join AEW after spending decades in WWE?

Henry explained his decision-making process to Bully Ray on Busted Open Radio (transcript via Post Wrestling):

“I’ve always wanted to be an executive; I’ve always wanted to get credit for the things I say, and my job depends on how well I do that. As a talent, it’s undeniable, you go in you have a good match, you have another good match and you have a string of matches people grow to know you like that. But in the world of being in the office, you know, you’ve got to have pelts on the wall. If you don’t have pelts on the wall people tend to go, ‘uh, well what’s he doing?’

Asking for credit is as you [Bully Ray] said looked dirty upon, it’s as dirty as asking a wrestler ‘Hey man, how much did they pay you?’ Because in our business everyone is trained and coerced to not talk about money because it’s just, like, the way it’s always been. I just felt like that’s a bad policy, I mean the best way to know your worth is to know what the standard is so you can make an even negotiation of what it is you’re doing for what you’re saying you’re going to do. I’m not saying everybody’s worth it, but you have to go by the open market, you have to go by market value.

My deal was up [with WWE]. This is not something that was recent, I go back to five months, six months. I wanted a position in the office, and I wanted everything that comes with it. I talked to Vince himself, he said, ‘write it up, you’re somebody I’ll hear from, I’ll listen from.’ I was told that there was a lot of cleaning house and there was a lot of cuts that were happening and there was a lot to come. I’ve seen hundreds of people in the company go and I still felt like knowing this I’m valuable enough that I wasn’t going anywhere. But when your deal comes up and the rights, you know, the legalities part of it, comes up to where are you going to go next and what you’re going to do. I always wanted to do more, I’m a busy body. If I’m not doing what I know I can do and especially if I think I can do it better than somebody else and I can’t get that opportunity then I have to start looking for that opportunity somewhere else, and I did.”

Mark Henry wanted an office job in WWE but it never came to fruition, so he explored the open market and found what he was seeking in AEW. That makes all the sense in the world to me.

His current role in AEW doesn’t include wrestling any matches. But if Mark ever does lace up the boots for one last match in AEW, who would you like to see him induct into the Hall of Pain?