Mark Henry

Mark Henry Discovered Jade Cargill, Samantha Irvin, Bianca Belair, Braun Strowman

Mark Henry (@themarkhenry) is a WWE Hall of Famer, powerlifter and Olympic weightlifter. He sits down with Chris Van Vliet in Indianapolis to talk about his 25-year WWE career, his incredible weightlifting numbers, his son Jacob Henry breaking records, Nick Dinsmore helping him get prepared for his WWE career, his new foray into stand-up comedy, traveling with Mae Young, breaking the ring with Big Show, his eye for talent and discovering Jade Cargill, Bianca Belair, Samantha Irvin, Braun Strowman and more.

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On his son’s success:

“Yeah, man, he’s doing really well. Tomorrow he’s competing in the Texas relays is the biggest track meet in Texas bigger than state. And he qualified and he’s going to compete and I think he’ll do well because. It’s shotput, he went to state in wrestling, went to state with choir. His life is consumed with being the best and when you work with the work ethic of trying to be the best, even if you don’t ever become number one, which he was number two and stayed in wrestling. And he’s going to do well tomorrow and throwing the shot. They won first place in choir. Like, even if you’re not number one, the work that you’re putting in to be number one, wherever you fall, 20th place, puts you above all the people that didn’t try. That’s who I’d hire. I’m not going to hire somebody that’s doing nothing. Yeah. Fortune 500 companies. The margin between them making a billion dollars a year and then making a few 100 million is who you hire. So I tell my kids, I’m preparing y’all for the world. I’m not preparing you for the individual sport you’re doing that’s that’s just a byproduct of what you’re doing and on the journey.”

On always being strong:

“Yeah. All my childhood pictures of me flexing, posing like I was a bodybuilder or something. Just because I just felt strong. And I knew when other kids my age, like we touched, it wasn’t the same. It was never fair. And at 10 years old, I boxed. And because I weighed over 220 pounds. I had to fight in the other category [against] 12-year-olds, they beat the shit out of me. It was horrible. I don’t know if you ever box before. Boxing is like playing chess. And you make the wrong move. Your game is over like Checkmate. Boxing is serious. And, man, I was not 12 years old. The kids is not it’s not fair.” 

On wrestling being a gamble:

“I had no clue that I could even do that. Seriously, like I was a fan and they got wind of the fact that I was a fan. My coach knew a couple of people and said hey man this boy wants tickets to a show he’s a big fan. And they were like sh*t, he should wrestle, he’d made a killer. And Vince McMahon called me one day. And I hung up on him. [Why?] I thought it was one of my friends just f*cking around. Dead serious. I was like, yeah, yeah, all right Wes. I thought it was Wes Barnett, who was also a super fan like I was. We lived at the Olympic Training Centre in Colorado Springs, and neither one of us ever missed Raw. There was no such thing as SmackDown. So my coach and manager called me back and was like, Hey, did you hang up on Vince McMahon? He said you hung up. I said that was him for real? and he was like. I answered the phone, he was p*ssed at me. And he called Vince I was like, hey, I apologize. He’s like that ain’t the first time I’ve been hung up on. So me and Vince had a good relationship?”

On his 10 year deal:

“Part of it was, we don’t want to do all the work training you and getting you ready. And then you go sign with the opposition. I’m loyal, I wouldn’t have done that anyway. But nonetheless, he did say that is going to take about three or four years for you to really understand that and get it, then we will still have you on contract for another five or six years to, reap the benefit of being able to draw money and I more than paid for my career.”

On scouting talent:

“I want to give black people opportunities in wrestling that would not have gotten those opportunities hadn’t somebody saw that they have all the skill set for wrestling they just don’t know that it exists for them. And overall, I mean, Bryan Danielson is as lily white as you can be, but his talent was undeniable. And the WWE want big people. And I was like listen, I saw a guy wrestle last night that was good. I don’t give a sh*t what his size is. He’s one of the most entertaining guys. I work with Steve Austin and I said this dude is like, really good. And then a lot and say he’s six one and about 300 pounds. But I got him in the door. And he did the wrist. Some people just need the look I didn’t help him at all. Really? I just opened the door.”

On Bianca Belair:

“She got my attention, because she wore a tutu. And a big Mickey Mouse bow in her hair. And you’re supposed to work. You’re doing apparatus, and you put that down and then you go to something else. She did a damn backflip on her way to doing another. I’m like, What are you doing? You’re exerting the energy that you don’t need to. She couldn’t help it. She’s an entertainer, that’s wrestling.”

On Jade Cargill:

“Before she went to AEW she had a try-out with WWE. I’m the one that got her the tryout. I knew Jade when it was an idea. She was a basketball player. She said that she wanted to wrestle. And I said you’re a pretty girl and everything but wrestling is hard. I was like, no disrespect to you, your pictures are great, but there’s a lot of pretty girls. She says I’m different and that’s my gimmick, I say I’m different. So when she hit me with that, I was like, Ah, you different? I tell you what? Why don’t you go and see Rip Rogers? Because Rip Rogers is the litmus test. The mentality of wrestling is you have to eat sh*t and like it. You got to take verbal abuse, browbeating and persevere. When it gets tough, you got to be like the hell with that. Give me some more. That’s wrestling. I didn’t think she had that in her. That’s why I sent her to him. Rip called me and said Mark I don’t know where the hell you got this one. But I bent her over and hit her across her back as hard as you can hit a human and she told me that’s all you got old man? And I went she didn’t say that. He said Yes, she did. And I was like let’s go! I knew she had it.”

On not having a retirement match:

“Yeah, my body said man f*ck your plan. My back said listen, we go into your House, right? Yeah, I guess we’re going to go into the house, like my back gave out. It just never allowed me and I can probably have a surgery. I keep putting it off, because I just want to keep moving around. But eventually I’m gonna have to just gonna get it fixed.”

On struggling to break into a steel cage in WWE:

“It was a padlock on it. It wasn’t a door. I mean, I could have jumped up and grabbed the door and just ripped the door off the hinges. They wanted me to pull the chain and break the chain. I had committed to pulling on that chain to break that lock. Jim Ellis was busy. He had so much sh*t going on. He forgot to take a hacksaw and kind of saw the Master Lock. So Master Lock Mark Henry broke it. He didn’t score it. So he didn’t weaken it enough. So I could just pop it. So when I started pulling on it, it wouldn’t go. That’s why it took so long. I had to go back and look but it was supposed to be like, instantaneous. Do it and go like three or four minutes. Maybe longer. It took for me too, I really broke it. But it was a success. We did the business. But that was a case where you saw something real happen in wrestling that probably will never happen again. I would like to do a reenactment and challenge people to go try it, it will humble, strong, strong people. Because what did that was Mark Henry, the strongest man in the world, lost his sh*t and had to do it. Because I was on TV and failure was not an option. So I mean that’s probably the greatest feat of strength you ever seen in wrestling. I could never do that again. My hands hurt for like, two weeks.”

On Mae Young:

“Sometimes whenever Moolah and the ladies were not on the road, she rode with me. And bro, she used to tell me stories. She was like, You know what, Mark? I understand who you are in the business. And I was like, What do you mean? And she’s like, I see how you help these other kids that and I heard people talk about you when you first started. You know what? F*ck them people. She was tough. She said I went through the same thing. And she told me stories about the boys flashing her, like saying belittling and really horrible things to her, not letting her dress in[locker rooms], she just in broom closets, janitors rooms, stuff like that, so they wouldn’t rib her. Like somebody stole all our clothes one time, put them in a water bucket. Like they hazed the shit out of her. And she just started kicking people in the balls and punching people in the throat. She was like, Hey, if you talk trash to me, at least zip your pants. Gotta learn to look down, kick them in the balls, stomp the sh*t out. And she told me that. She said you know when I was young woman none of these girls in here could touch me, she was confident. I love that, especially with athletes and people that’s doing something like you confident that you’re good interview. I can hold my own against some of the best. If you don’t have that level of confidence, you’re not gonna make it. She had it man. She was just tough. When Bully Ray powerbombs her to a table from the ring to the floor she was like, Do not treat me like an old woman. You better lay it in.”

On breaking the ring with The Big Show:

“I think they told me that day when I got to the arena, and I was like, what? And I’m thinking we got to do it for real. So the easiest way to make a ring fold up cuz I’ve seen rings fold up before. Underneath the rings, they’re all on wires that wire them together to a central point in the middle. And I mean, it’s got so much support. So all you got to do is just not put the wires on. But what if in the middle of the match, something happens? So all of that stuff is set up it’s a magic trick to let all of that stuff happen at the moment that is supposed to happen. Not before. Because then you put people in danger. And I’ve been in the ring where I broke the ropes legitimately. I run to hit the ropes snap broke the steel ring in the corner, fly out tore my quad. So the danger of the ring breaking is a reality but that he and I are doing it. There it had been done before. Right. I mean, I think Show did with Brock before.”

On Paul Wight:

“He was a monster. Like one of the if not the best if not the best, big man athlete of all time. I will put him over me. I will put him over Andre he was a better athlete. Doing this stuff at 6’11 and change almost exactly seven feet tall. Like shoot height, he got billed at 7’1 or whatever. That dude is seven feet tall, basically. And 500 pounds doing Moon salts and Kip ups. Drop kicks. He used to do drop kicks. Just crazy athletic.”

What is Mark Henry grateful for?

“People who make wrestling their life, health, my career and my family.”

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