Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Black History Month: Mark Henry

Henry becomes the champ (WWE)
By Kevin Hunsperger

What a year Mark Henry had in 2011.  After toiling in the ranks of the WWE for 15 years, the big man finally won the big title.  His first world heavyweight championship.  And I'll be the first to tell you I never thought I'd support the idea, but I really ended up enjoying his reign as champion.  I think had he not been injured, he'd still be the champ too.  I was counting on a Mark Henry-Daniel Bryan match at Wrestlemania. At least it would have been something fresh and different.

That being said though, Henry had quite the climb to the top.  I'm a little surprised to find while researching this, that Henry has only held the World title, the ECW title, and the European title.  I thought somewhere along the way he was a tag team champion too, but I guess I was wrong in that thought.

Henry's debut against Jerry Lawler (WWE)
Henry of course came to the WWF shortly after the 1996 Olympic games.  He was a powerlifter for the USA, but hurt his back during the competition.  But Henry was still signed to wrestle and became known as the World's Strongest Man.  It's a title he still holds today, 15 years later.  And he's just as big and bad today as he was in 1996.

Along the way though Henry got saddled with some other gimmicks.  He started off as a face, the Olympic hero type.  Then he joined the Nation of Domination as the angry black man.  From that we got the highly entertaining Sexual Chocolate character.  I think some hated it, but I always got a chuckle from it.  Although the birth of Mae Young's hand (Henry was the father) and the Sammie angle did leave me a bit confused.  Obviously they were going for shock value on those ideas.

Rey goes for the ride (WWE)
Henry's career hit some rough spots.  He was shipped back to OVW to refine his skills.  That was in 2000.  He would eventually return to the WWE, and added another strongman title to his resume.  Through the first decade of the new millennium, Henry turned face and heel and feuded with the likes of fellow Olympian Kurt Angle, Batista, and the Undertaker (he was a victim of the Undertaker's at Wrestlemania 22 in a casket match)

It's just too bad he waited so long to get to the top of the mountain.  And as he recovers from injury, one has to wonder with his age how quickly he'll be back.  Regardless of what the future holds, Henry has had quite a career going from Sexual Chocolate to the gatekeeper in the Hall of Pain.

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