Thursday, October 09, 2003

#64. Mark Henry, Goldberg

Okay, so Mark Henry, of all people, has given Goldberg a run for his money. Henry is an Olympics weightlifter who made a splash in 1996, drew the attention of the WWE (then still known as the WWF), and was eventually drafted into the roster. He went nowhere, and he went there for the duration of every stay he had in the company. Some of the gimmicks they cooked up for the guy were downright embarrassing. He was always referred to as "The World's Strongest Man," and there often token attempts to capitalize on that, though never substantially as far as his actual ring work was concerned. Wrestling pundits attributed this career limbo to the fact that the guy wasn't really much of a wrestler, to which I counter such a problem has failed to hold back many other famous grapplers. It might also be said that his problem was his lack of charisma, and that would not be unjustifiable. If Mark Henry was known as "The World's Strongest Man," that's all he was known as, other than a company baffoon.

But this past Monday, he wrestled world champion Goldberg and gave "Da Man" a run for his money (and Triple H's money, but that's a matter of storyline), signifying the first time Henry has been taken seriously as a competitor in WWE. To this I say, not all that surprising. When the Smackdown! brand wanted to give champion Brock Lesnar a monster of a challenge, they turned to the Big Show, a behemoth who had never before been in a position to truly be taken seriously in the company. Lesnar was a dominant superstar, so they needed a guy who could physically appear dominating. The rest would be a matter of playing out a realistic challenge in the ring.

Goldberg has always been portrayed as a dominating superstar, and as much as it made him a star in his early WCW days, it became detrimental as he became a regular feature. He was no longer exciting to watch because he had become a predictable element. Henry's recent elevation reveals that WWE realizes this. There are no other big men available in the RAW roster to act in this role, so Henry assumed it as a matter of convenience. It's really a win-win situation. If it works, that is.

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