On the most recent episode of his Something To Wrestle podcast, Bruce Prichard revealed fascinating details about the times he worked with The Undertaker over the years in WWE. Prichard recalled one specific instance that some would argue would have been even more shocking than when Brock Lesnar defeated The Undertaker's WrestleMania winning streak at WrestleMania 30.
According to Prichard and other WWE creative members at the time, Vince McMahon seemed convinced that now-WWE Hall of Famer, Mark Henry, was ready to end the Undertaker's undefeated streak when they faced one another at WrestleMania 22.
"I was sitting at my desk in Houston and Vince calls me and says, 'I've got an idea. What do you think about ending Undertaker's streak?'" Prichard recalled. "I said, 'Well, with the right guy he's made.' He says, 'Godda--, that big bastard Mark Henry – he's ready!' There was silence. I'm like, 'Really?' Mark had been here 10 years and it wasn't anything against Mark, but I didn't think that Mark Henry beating and ending the streak would catapult him to the next level."
Prichard simply did not believe that Henry was ready for such a responsibility. Instead, Prichard supported the idea of using the end of the streak to make a developing star in to an unforgettable, household name, like Randy Orton at that time.
"I wanted to do it with somebody – for example, Randy Orton the year before would have made Randy and that would have been a hell of an investment going forward," Prichard explained. "Mark Henry wasn't ready at that point. Now, Mark became a hell of an attraction later on and Mark was the World Champion and ECW Champion, and he did a great job. But I just didn't think he was ready and there was also a part of me that was thinking, 'S--t, I've got to pitch this,' and I said, 'Well, I'll run it by him.'"
Despite some reluctance, 'Taker would ultimately agree to the angle where Henry defeated him at WrestleMania 22. Although they went as far as to plan the angle out, as time progressed, Prichard recalls Vince getting cold feet and ultimately backing out of the plan before it was made in to reality.
"And I ran it by him and his reaction was the same as mine," Prichard said. "It was pretty much silence, and he asked what I thought and I told him, 'I don't think it's a good idea, but try it on. See if there's something you think that might work.' He came back and said, 'OK, if that's what you guys want to do - if that's really what Vince wants.' Vince, as we got closer to it, got cold feet I guess and just realized that maybe Mark wasn't ready at that time for it, and I don't know that there was a real solid plan on the other side either to make it work. [Paul] Heyman hated it. I don't know anybody that was like, 'Wooo hooo! Let's go do this,' other than Vince. Sometimes you just got to try s--t on and throw it out there. Sometimes you throw it out there and you need to just throw it the f--k away, too, but that's how we got there."
Court Bauer, who now runs Major League Wrestling, spoke to Wrestling Inc. President Raj Giri back in 2014 about the backstage momentum Henry had toward ending 'Taker's streak in 2006. Bauer worked as a member of the WWE creative team when ideas about Henry and 'Taker were being mulled over.
"I remember there was a time when Mark Henry, the first time he had a major, significant heel run, he pretty much had adapted this new persona that you see now, where he's talking about splitting wigs down to the white meat and all these cool, deep, violent promos that he started doing," Bauer explained. "I mean, it was pretty ominous stuff, very strong. That was the first time that Vince kinda raised that eyebrow and said, 'Well, maybe this is the year that someone takes the streak because Mark's really kind of sealed the deal. Mark is an upper-echelon type guy.
"If you had said this a few years earlier, with Mark Henry "Sexual Chocolate" and the dude that would always get caught up with an injury, and just - he was kind of a joke. I mean, that would have been shocking. But here we were and we were all thinking about it and it was something that was considered."
You can listen to the full podcast below. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Something To Wrestle with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.