Welcome everyone to the very first post Wrestlemania XXVII edition of A Matter of Character. It is also the first brand new edition of A Matter of Character to be posted at the new TJRWrestling.com, which is pretty exciting. I spent the last few days thinking about who I wanted to be the first character I analyzed on the new site. I went through the list of names I haven’t yet covered (which is much shorter than when I first started writing these) and came very close to doing this week’s edition on Alex Riley (I’ll get to him at some point). Instead I decided to go with one of my favorite breakout superstars from 2011 that has spent most of 2012 floundering.
Mark Henry hasn’t lost the intensity that helped him break through the glass ceiling in 2011, but he has lost something. It could be the backing of WWE Creative since the injury bug has bitten him since the end of 2011, or maybe the online reports are right and he is on his way out of the company. That would be a damn shame, because they finally found the right angle to take with his character and then he’s gone. It’d be like Batista all over again. The bottom line is that Mark Henry deserves a bigger role in my humble opinion, because his character is quite frankly one of the very best in the WWE at this moment.
This week I am going to analyze the Character of Mark Henry, highlighting his various strengths and point out some of his weaknesses. Finally I will come up with storyline for his character to take part in going forward, that will allow him to show off the strengths of his character. Let’s Do This!
There are very few guys in the WWE more physically imposing than Mark Henry. The man is 6 ft 4 in, and nearly 400 pounds of intensity and power. When he walks down the ramp with that angry look on his mug, you know that whomever he faces, is about to run into a brick wall. There have been many powerful “force of nature” superstars to come through, from the late great Umaga, to Lord Tensai today, and many others before and in-between, but very few have captured what Mark captured last year, and that was a realistic intensity that makes you afraid to find yourself in an alley with the World’s Strongest Man.
Needless to say that at his size, Henry is far from a ring general. For a while he might have been considered one of the worst in-ring superstars in the WWE (aside fro Khali). That being said, he worked hard to get better and even pulled off the impossible, making a match between Big Show and himself entertaining. What he lacks in technical skill, he has seemingly begun to make up in entertainment value and in-ring storytelling, which many would argue is just as important as the former.
In 2011, Mark Henry became the WWE’s Bart Scott. For all you non-football fans out there, Bart Scott is a linebacker for the New York Jets, known for his intensity, toughness, and trash talk. I’d say Mark Henry has become synonymous with all those things in the WWE. You’d be hard pressed to find a guy that competes angrier than Mark Henry. You definitely couldn’t find anyone whose trash talk is as threatening as Mark’s. Mark is an intense and angry person, who is not above jawing with the fans or his opponents in order to intimidate them.
This change in personality, becoming more serious, angry, and intimidating, may have been the biggest factor in the turnaround of Mark Henry’s career in 2011. I could listen to him trash talk fans, opponents and Michael Cole everyday of the week. There is absolutely no one, and I mean no one in the WWE that gives you the unscripted, non-promo sound bytes that Mark Henry gives you on a weekly basis. Just one more reason that he deserves a bigger role than the one he has been occupying as of late, and is kind of irreplaceable.
Words and Actions
Mark Henry’s words and actions are always two things; Angry and Aggressive. He fights with anger and aggression. He speaks with anger and aggression. As I said in the category above, no one in the WWE competes angrier than Mark Henry.
This is one of the great parts of his current character, that he can channel his character’s personality through every word and action. Every moment he is on screen, you are seeing his character’s personality, and it one that is simple, entertaining and intimidating. Furthermore you understand why he is so angry, which makes following the character’s reasoning much easier. He is so angry because for years, he hadn’t reached his potential, and many had written him off as some kind of joke. He had to hear the fans make fun of him, and call for him to be fired for years, and eventually he decided to channel his frustration with the WWE Universe, and his frustration with himself, for never living up to what he thought he could be, into his matches. The Character’s Anger and Aggression are believable because they come from a real place, and that’s why he’s gotten over better than any monstrous force (aside from The Undertaker), because his character has a realness that so many in the WWE can’t provide.
What makes the Mark Henry character so much fun to watch is that not only is he a bad ass, no nonsense Monster, but he’s also relatable. What motivates him more than anything, is other people’s negativity. You tell Mark that he sucks, and he wants to prove to you that he doesn’t. He takes any negativity thrown his way, and uses it as fuel while moving towards his goals.
People Identify with that because everyone has been told at some point that they can’t do something, or that they’re no good at something. People deep down get behind a character that has to deal with the same negativity of others, and instead of crumbling, rises up and achieves what people said they couldn’t. it gives the viewer hope, and motivation for themselves, that they can prove people wrong. This is probably the most identifiable and relatable motivation going in the WWE today.
The conflict for his character can arise in two ways that are inevitable, so no matter what he does, he will have to encounter conflict. This is a great circumstance for a character to be in, from a viewer’s point of view. Either Mark Henry can prove all his haters wrong, and turn all that negativity into positive feedback, but at that point, he’d lose what motivates him most, and unless he could find another source of motivation, he could see a drop off in his performance due to lack of drive. The other possibility is that he doesn’t quite live up to the expectations he puts on himself to prove all his detractors wrong. Eventually he could become one of his own biggest doubters, and need to overcome his own doubts to succeed. Either way, there are so many stories to tell with a character this stellar.
If the rumors aren’t true, and he isn’t on his way out of the WWE, Mark Henry needs something to do following this John Lauriniatis fueled series of matches with CM Punk on Raw (that I anticipate will culminate in CM Punk finally beating Mark tonight, successfully defending his championship). I personally like the direction they’ve hinted at, with Abraham Washington leaving Mark his card and offering his managerial services.
From what I’ve gathered, Mark Henry is all about his business in the ring, and hurting people. What was his demise as champion before was his inability to deal with Teddy Long who obviously had it out for him. Now with John Laurinaitis as GM of both shows, his standing is better, but unlike guys like The Miz, Alberto Del Rio, Christian, etc. Mark Henry isn’t about playing politics backstage.
Eventually he’ll fall somewhat out of favor with Johnny, because he doesn’t get the political game that the other heels do. That’s when he’ll turn to Abraham Washington to handle such activities for him. That way Henry can continue to be the brash, trash talking, Hall of Pain inducting monster that he needs to be to be at the top of the game. It’s like Abraham said on his twitter account “You Fill the Boots, I’ll Handle the Suits”.
The thing with Mark is that his feuds can literally be based on who he inducts into his Hall of Pain, but he needs to start following through with his inductions again. Beating people so badly that their faces are fit to adorn the walls of the Hall. You could have Abraham ad a little flash to the shtick by announcing “Hall of Pain Inductions” to start new feuds. They would then air a short video packages detailing the next inductees accomplishments, and finish with Mark saying something like “Welcome to the Hall”. Have him start of small, but eventually target bigger names like John Cena, CM Punk (on a side note, I’d much rather see Punk vs. Henry than Punk vs. Tensai, which is apparently planned for the near future), and Sheamus.
There you have it, but what do you think? Are you a Mark Henry fan, like myself? Do you think that he should have a bigger role within the WWE (granted that he isn’t on his way out)? Could you get behind pairing him with Abraham Washington and doing legitimate “Hall of Pain” inductions, complete with a “Hall of Pain Induction Ceremony”?
Until next time folks, I’m Matty J. Douglas, wishing my cousin a Happy 18th Birthday. One more year till you’re legal in Ontario, at which point I’ll buy you your “official” first drink! Have a great week everybody!