On the latest episode of The Broken Skull Sessions, ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin chatted with his fellow WWE Hall Of Famer, Mark Henry. Among many other things, Henry discussed how WWE Chairman Vince McMahon first contacted him about working together.
Apparently, Henry got a call from McMahon when the strongman was working with coach Terry Todd in Austin, Texas. When McMahon got in contact with Henry through Todd, Henry hung up on McMahon, thinking the call was a prank.
“Vince called Terry Todd and got my phone number, and called me at the training center. And, mind you, I was a big time [pro] wrestling fan still. About six other guys that were at the training center with me, they watched wrestling with me every Monday night, so I’m thinking, ‘Hey Mark, phone call.’ ‘Alright.’ I come down the hall way. We have a community phone. ‘Hello?’ ‘This is Vince McMahon. Hey, how are you doing?’ ‘Okay, Wes.’ Click, hung up on him!” Henry laughed.
“So Terry calls, he’s like, ‘Mark, the phone! Hello? What? Mark, I suggest you take this call.’ ‘Okay, my bad. Alright.’ I hang up, and I’m standing there by the phone, and I’m shaking. I ain’t afraid of [anything]. Steve, it’s me!” Mark continued. “I’ll fight a bear with a switch, and I’m shaking. And because of my fandom, how much I loved [pro wrestling], the phone rings and I grab the phone. I mean, it’s not even finished ringing. ‘Hello?’ He’s like, ‘Mark Henry?’ I was like, ‘I’m sorry I hung up. I thought it was one of my friends.’ He said, ‘Oh, don’t worry about it.’ And he just said, ‘Man, look, I hear you’re a big [pro] wrestling fan.’ I was like, ‘Yes!’ And he was like, ‘I want you to come to Connecticut and see how we do stuff.'”
During the telephone call, McMahon invited Henry to WWE Headquarters in Connecticut, where Henry got to meet WWE Superstars The Undertaker and Yokozuna. Henry recounted that he was told pro wrestling was young guys taking care of old guys, and this is how he started carrying Yokozuna’s bags and driving him around. The big man said that the best part of his pro wrestling odyssey was riding with Yokozuna.
“I fly to Connecticut, man. Man, I got to meet The Undertaker. I got to meet Yokozuna. And then, they told me, ‘This is the way we do business. Our young guys take care of our old guys. Yokozuna needs someone to drive him to the shows. That’s you.’ So I was Yoko’s bag carrier [and] I’d drive him to the shows, and it was the best part of my whole [pro wrestling] career over winning the championship,” Mark said.
“Driving Yoko treated me like royalty. He was one of them guys, if he said something, you could believe it was the truth. He was like the most honest guy I ever met and a lot of fun, a lot of fun. He took me to my first strip club! I love Yoko!” Henry added, “like, I would go on the road, man, and go to strip joints with Yoko and other guys and I was just like, ‘This actually exists? Like, oh my God!’ Like, this young kid just got ruined real quick.”
According to Henry, he understands the heat he got for his big WWE contract. With that said, ‘The World’s Strongest Man’ claimed that Vince McMahon should have done a better job of keeping the deal quiet because Henry personally was not going to tell anyone how much he was being paid.
“If I’m still wrestling and [WWE] bring a guy in who has never wrestled a day in his life and they pay him twice as much as I’m getting paid, I’m going to be pissed, so I can understand it,” Henry admitted. “And Vince probably could have [done] a better job of not telling [anybody]. I wasn’t going to tell [anybody]. But, nonetheless, it got out, and it just put a bad taste in people’s mouths.
“Nobody wanted to train me. Nobody wanted to teach me. [WWE] hired Dr. Tom, who I still consider one of the top five trainers in the world – him and Rip Rogers are number one and number two on my list of guys that understand the business and can teach you in layman’s terms, but also still get in there, put the hands on you, and say, ‘No, this is not how,’ and teach you everything.”
Henry, who recently had high praise for Cesaro, indicated that he was very fortunate that The Undertaker and his Bone Street Krew took a liking to him.
“I got really lucky, man, that Taker liked me,” Henry said. “And the BSK guys [Rikishi] and Yoko, and all of them, they took care of me.”
With respect to his favorite opponents, Henry named The Undertaker and Fit Finlay.
“Oh my God, I’m going to have to say The Undertaker because I learned the most and I’m a strong proponent of learning even when people think that you have it all figured out. You can always learn something from somebody.” Henry continued, “As far as the most fun, it was Fit Finlay. I loved working with him! We had so much fun, man, that you could work 30 minutes and not even realize you’ve been in the ring that long. I mean, it was like you forget. You could just do anything.”
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