Nearly two decades later, the “World’s Strongest Man” Mark Henry continues to be dominant in the squared circle. In a career that has experienced everything from the glory of championship gold to the doldrums of being demoted, Henry has persevered and enjoyed a successful career.
In a recent interview with the Mirror, Henry took the time to discuss his storied career and reflect on various topics. From hanging up the phone on Vince McMahon to his memories of the controversial Attitude Era, Henry gives his honest take on each of those subjects.
Before becoming a professional wrestler, Henry was an elite powerlifter, setting a litany of records and competing in the Olympics. However, even Henry, an admitted wrestling fan growing up, did not know how to become a wrestler, nor did he believe it when WWE chairman Vince McMahon called him to see if he was interested in joining the federation’s stable of showmen.
“Yes, absolutely. But first of all, I didn’t believe that it was actually him who phoned me, so I hung up on him! I thought it was one of my friends who was playing a joke. He did call me back and this time he said ‘what happened?’ and I was like, ‘is this really Vince McMahon?’ We talked for about five or 10 minutes and he appreciated the fact that as I’ve mentioned, I was a fan of the industry, and I was a winner. He thought I would be a natural at it.”
Upon joining WWE, Henry was still too inexperienced and partnering that with an injury, Henry was given time off to both heal and get more training. His first big break came when he was a part of the popular stable the Nation of Domination. Alongside D’Lo Brown, Farooq, Kama Mustafa, and The Rock, Henry was able to learn from experienced wrestlers and a future icon in The Rock.
Looking back on his time with the Nation, Henry appreciates that time, but most of all he is happy for the success Rock experienced after the matches they had together.
“Most definitely. He is one of the most well-studied, flamboyant characters of all time. And people… there is nobody on earth other than maybe Vince McMahon who has a work ethic like his. He studies and works and studies and works and that is all he ever wanted to do, to succeed. It was an honour to be in the ring with him first and secondly to gain the win. We’ve had a few matches, four I think to be exact, and I may be the only person in history that is undefeated against him over that many matches!”
Fellow Attitude Era mainstay Val Venis recently spoke to theInquisitr, saying that he believes the Attitude Era and its controversial storylines could exist in any society. All told, with the nature of the Attitude Era’s sometimes outrageous storylines, Henry says that he was open to doing anything. From almost getting intimate with a transgender person to his girlfriend Mae Young giving birth to a hand, it was all fair game.
“I enjoyed my time working with Mae Young, she was one of the coolest, most respected people that I ever met in the industry. We both gave each other’s characters life and that is something that is hard for people to understand. There are thousands of wrestlers and there are thousands of really good ones, but to be able to join somebody that kind of fell off the map and both of you rise to the top of the card because of chemistry, and that last for not a week or two, but for a year, and here we are 16 years later still talking about it, it’s impressive. It’s unbelievable.”
But in Henry’s mind, his favorite moment of that time period did not involve him but rather a culmination of one of his closest friends and most idolized performer’s squaring off against one another.
“I think my favourite in-ring moment, it really didn’t have anything to do with me. One of my favourite in-ring moments was seeing Hulk Hogan and The Rock go face to face [at WrestleMania 18]. It gave me something because I felt the connection because The Rock was my brother and as a child I grew up idolising Hulk Hogan. It was the future and the past coming together. It was something where I just stood there in amazement, just like everybody else. It was like five or six minutes where they just stood there and looked at each other and the crowd cheered. That was one of my favourite moments.”
[Image via WWE]