Mark Henry

Mark Henry On Feeling Disrespected By Vince McMahon, Leaving WWE For AEW, Mae Young Giving Birth To A Hand

Mark Henry (@themarkhenry) is a professional wrestler and commentator currently signed to All Elite Wrestling (AEW). He is also a WWE Hall of Famer. He joins Chris Van Vliet to talk about why he left WWE and signed with AEW, what his initial conversation with Tony Khan was like, his thoughts on having one last retirement match, the prank that Vince McMahon pulled that lead to his “Hall of Pain” gimmick, the original plan for his storyline with Mae Young giving birth to a hand, why he chose a salmon-colored jacket for his fake retirement speech, his son Jacob’s incredible size and strength, the talent he has discovered like Bianca Belair, Braun Strowman and Jade Cargill, working on Busted Open and much more!

On Big Show saying that John Cena is stronger than Mark Henry:

“And I gave him the business about it too, how are you gonna say John Cena is stronger than me because he’s, he’s, he’s more over than me. But if it came to strength for strength, like there’s nobody else on the planet that compares to the things that I’ve done.”

On being the strongest pound for pound wrestler ever:

“Oh, there’s no doubt about [in] wrestling. Like I’m when I’m when I’m talking about strongest. I mean on the history of recorded, documented proof of what people have done on earth. They got cartoons, The Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, I’m the Earth’s mightiest hero. And it’s not bragging when it is true.”

On Mark Henry’s son wanting to be a wrestler:

“I’m fine with it. I mean, right now, he could come into wrestling right now and be good because of his aptitude and his understanding. And I’m his dad, so like, we talk wrestling, like I talk wrestling to the fan base on Busted Open. And, you know, we have a podcast version of our show on Sunday called The Masters class. And we talk about all things wrestling, and it’s specific to wrestlers. If fans tune in and they listen, they’re going to get the same understanding that we would give John Cena if he asked me a question, because John Cena is a brilliant guy and understands the gravity of what pro-wrestling it is not just from a physical standpoint, but from a psych psychological and psychology driven standpoint. So I don’t have to teach him. He’s a teacher. But there’s a lot of people that get the same training.”

What are people missing that are breaking into the business now vs. back in the 90’s:

“I think that the respect for the veterans teaching you is expected now, because it’s corporate, and the people are employed to do those jobs. But at the end of the day, you should be appreciative that a Jerry Lynn, Dustin Rhodes, Jamie Noble, comes up to you and says, Hey, man, if you fix this, you’re going to be great, and don’t be afraid to ask me a question. I know you don’t know it all, because I don’t know it all. But I’ve had some experience, and I want to put that into you. And those are gifts. Those are jewels that it’s hard to be able to quantify it to monetize it, because your success is dependent on you being able to make people care and feel. And that has to be taught.”

On not wanting to wrestle anymore:

“I mean, all things come to an end. But I did not think that they would not hire me being that I knew the things that I knew. And sometimes I guess that can be a bad thing, people don’t want to know where the bodies are buried. But from a business standpoint, I wanted a position in the office, because I didn’t want to wrestle anymore, and they wouldn’t hire me because I didn’t have the experience. And you know, like on the corporate side, or the business side or the executive side, or what have you, how you want to phrase it, in a position where you’re telling people what to do, I was not given that opportunity. But when it comes to storytelling, and getting wrestlers ready to go, like I could do that, like, as good as anybody that’s doing it. The difference between me and everybody else is I could also work the room. You know, whenever there was upfront events, corporate outings, things of that magnitude, they always sent me because they knew one, I was going to put on a good face for the company. I was well respected for my career. But what people didn’t know is guy gave me vision and a sense of discernment. And I can see where a wrestler can make it or not. And there’s people that are not even in the wrestling business, that I see them and I go, wow, they will be a great wrestler. And I am and I’ve done it. I’ve gone to people, Jade Cargill, who was the Women’s Champion, Bianca Belair headlined Wrestlemania, and was world champion, Braun Strowman was a strong man. And I said, bro, you should be wrestling. And he came in seventh at the nationals. And I said, the guys in front of you, that’s first, second and third, all are gonna be in the top five for the next 15 years. Like unless you miraculously grow and get stronger, you’re going to be middle of the road here. You can be a big fish in pro-wrestling. And it took him two years to say, You know what, hey Can you still get me into wrestling? And I said Hell yeah, let’s go. And you know, he became a world champion and is making millions of dollars. Like that was not a possibility without me. And not that I’m saying oh, look at me, I’m saying look at my ability to recognise talent is what I’m saying. And the same thing with Baron Corbin and you know, short story, you know, once you get me talking brother, it’s hard to stop. Apollo Crews and Rich Swann were in Japan as a tag team. And I saw them in Japan. And I said man, like they bigger than this. And I went to Vince and I said hey man, like I saw these two guys in Japan, they crazy man. Like they doing stuff that our cruiserweights are not doing. And he said, Well, what do you mean? I was like, the bigger they’re more muscle, the extremely talented, and they’re doing moves that I haven’t seen I guys do. And he said, Well, can you get them to come in? And I was like, Yeah, I got them flights with my money. And found out, reached out and found out that their contracts were up. And that they were going to come back to the States and they didn’t know what was next. I was what was next. And Apollo Crews has been multiple time champion over there. Rich Scwann was champion, Cruiserweight Champion there and think the IMPACT 24/7 Champion before he left and went to TNA, and he became a champion over there. So like that, when I see people, I just know what I know. And we can teach you how to wrestle. I don’t teach how to wrestle. They got coaches that do that, and agents that do that. And guys all over their wrestling schools. I don’t teach you how, I teach you why, teach you when to do it, where to put it. And those are the things that make you great, you can be good, but I’m gonna make you great.”

On transitioning to AEW:

“No, I didn’t reach out to no talent. Like, you know, I talked to Tony Khan. And, you know, Tony is a big fan of wrestling. And we talked, and he asked me, you know, why was not wrestling. I said, Man, I don’t. I don’t want to do anymore wrestling, I’m old. And he laughed, and I was like, I want to be more on the executive side. I want to be able to help build the business. And he said, man, don’t tease me. And I said, Tease you how I was he was like, You come AEW. And I was like, hell yeah I’ll come to AEW if you hire me on the executive side, and I get the help with talent. And he was like, Man, I’m gonna have my legal call you today. That’s how it happened in one day. It was not like I knew that. I was going to talk to Tony Khan. Who knows you’re gonna run into a billionaire wrestling company owner. I didn’t know that.”

What role does Mark Henry have in AEW:

“You know what, man, I do a lot of the psychology. I teach, you know, I’m considered a coach, but I don’t, I don’t do the matches. You know, I don’t produce the matches that you see on TV. I go to each individual guy, and I talk to them about their personas. I talked to them about their character. And hey, man, I think if you change this, can you try to do this differently? You know, so we go back and forth. And there are some people that listen better than others. And you can see the development of those people. I love working with Orange Cassidy. I love talking to him. He’s a sponge, he’s smart as hell, and he wants to be great, and I like passion. I like people that’s like, man, they got me on fifth, it’s gonna suck for everybody that going after me. I’m like, sh*t, let’s go. I love it. I love people like that, man. Orange Cassidy is like that man. Will Hobbs man, golly.”

On the backstage buzz regarding AEW All In:

“People are excited, man. I remember when we had the first show at Arthur Ashe, 22,000. It was electric, you can feel electricity. And when the whole crowd yells your clothes vibrate. Imagine what it’s going to be like, with 70 plus thousand. You will not be able to hear somebody one foot away from you. Like it’s, the thought of that is driving people to do better, because they want to be on that show. For the experience and for the money, because there’s going to be a big payday for everybody involved.”

On an official Mark Henry retirement match:

“You know what I’ve thought about it, and every time I think about it, I think who? Who would be the person? And I guess you could put up a poll someday and say, Who would you like to see Mark Henry have his last match against? You better do it fast, because every day I wake up, I’m thinking I might have to just go put that to bed. [Would you be open to doing it in AEW?] You know what, I have to think about it and I have to start training and see how my body feels, I haven’t took a bump in years. I’d be open though, to a conversation.”

On the choice of the salmon jacket:

“Because I was feeling salmon that day. Like, I saw that jacket and I was like, that is my retirement jacket. There was blues and greens and different colors, but that one like, that’s the one, it chose me when I saw it. I was like chef’s kiss. [Where is the jacket now?] That jacket now is being shipped to me. I put it on loan with WWE so they can do the exhibits at WrestleMania, and their different things but now it’s coming back to me. I’m going to set up my own exhibit.”

On the dimensions of the casket used in the match against The Undertaker at WrestleMania:

“I don’t [remember the exact dimensions]. but it was probably a foot wider than my shoulders. So back then I was 400 something pounds and, you know, I was 62 [inches] in diameter around me, a 62 jacket. And so I mean, it had to be at least 84 Maybe to be comfortable in there. And when I say comfortable, there’s no such thing as comfortable in a coffin. I don’t know if you’re claustrophobic or not, but I am. And just to be in there for how long I was in there, it was really rough. And, you know, I tell people all the time that the greatest and the worst moment in my career happened the same night. Having a co Main Event at WrestleMania with The Undertaker, and being put in a coffin and having to be in there for like, 16 minutes.”

On the prank where Mark Henry was left alone in the ring:

“They robbed me. When I looked at Scott Armstrong. And he said, It’s not me. And he had fear in his eyes. And you can smell fear and you can see it, and he was deadly afraid. And I asked for the microphone. And I started talking and they turned the microphone off. And I said, Okay, I get it. And like that was one of the maddest times, that was the maddest that I had ever been at that point. And I’m just glad that they had, you know, got in the limo and drove off because the conversation that we’re having right now may not happen because I’d have whooped all their ass. And I don’t know if I could have controlled myself. as mad as I was back then. I felt disrespected, I feel trivialised. Out of all the work that I did. Like all of the sacrificing. And you people say Oh, you got paid a lot of money. You know what, man, I didn’t get paid enough money to dummy down my pride and my respect as a man. Ain’t no price for that. And when that happened, I felt like okay, I’m expendable, I’m useless to them. They don’t respect me. That’s kind of feeling that it was. And you know, I got a lot of counsel after that, about how I felt as a man, because like, it was troubling. But being that I am a man and that I was able to say my piece to Vince and everybody involved, like, just know who I am, because that won’t ever happen again. If it does, like us talking will not be an option. And I quit. And you know what, man, I probably owe my wife more of an apology and thank you, because she was the one that got me to come back to wrestling. And go and talk to them again, because I didn’t have any interest in coming back and then none of that, none of the things after would have happened if that was the case.”

Why did Vince do it:

“Vince just thought it was funny. He said that he thought it was funny. And they wanted to get to the cars and get to the airport. And that was gonna give them time to get out of there without any traffic. Not thinking how’s Mark gonna feel after this?”

What’s Mark Henry grateful for:

“Life, health, my family and the fans knowing who I am.”

Featured image: Post Wrestling

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