WWE Hall of Famer Mark Henry was on a recent episode of Talk Is Jericho. Henry and Chris Jericho spoke on the development process as a wrestler, and they both noted that it takes time before you reach a point in your career where you feel like you got it. Henry recalled an early point in his career where he got angry over what Jericho said during a match.
“I can follow directions,” Henry stated. “If you say, ‘Hey man, this is what you’re doing. This what you’re doing, and when this guy does this, you do that,’ I’ll do what you tell me but it wasn’t instinctive. When I wrestled you, I still wasn’t wrestling under instinct where I just knew what the right thing to do was. During that time, you were like, ‘You forgot the spot!’ I was so mad. I couldn’t even think straight. I told you, I lose my ability to communicate. The match was good, but it wasn’t great.
“Something went down,” Jericho recalled. “And you got really sensitive and I got really sensitive.
“When you kneed me, I was supposed to throw you over the top to the floor, and I was supposed to come out after you and I didn’t,” Henry explained. “I’m standing in the ring, and you’re like, ‘Come on stupid!’ And when you said ‘stupid.’ I was like, ‘Who the f*ck are you talking to?’
“Now let me just explain, I’m also the heel in the match yelling at the babyface,” Jericho noted. “‘Come on stupid! Come on you stupid idiot! I wasn’t literally calling you stupid as a person.
“I didn’t learn that till later,” Henry admitted. “I realized that ‘stupid idiot’ is what you said.”
“I was talking to Pat Patterson one day, and Pat was like, ‘Man, I really would like to see you be just more aggressive. We love you Mark. Your a big, lovable guy, but damn it, if you could just kill people, it will make it so good for you.’ And then, probably about a week later, Vince played a joke on me,” Henry recalled. “I went out to the ring, and they played my music and I was supposed to be wrestling Sin Cara. This is a dark match after the show in Des Moines, IA. I’ll never forget it.
“I’m standing out there and his music is playing. They play it three times, and now I’m angry at Sin Cara. I’m like, I’m gonna beat his ass when he get out here. They played his music three times. Where the hell is he? And then they played Vader’s music. I’m like, ‘What the f*ck?’ Wait a minute, and I look at Scott Armstrong. I said, ‘What’s going on?’ He’s like, ‘Mark, I don’t have nothing to do with this.’ I get the microphone. I didn’t realize what I was doing until after I did it.
“I said, ‘Give me a microphone.’ I cut a promo. ‘I don’t know what’s going on, but somebody better bring their ass out here to this ring because if I have to come back there and get somebody, it is not gonna be pretty.’ I throw the microphone down. Then they play Rey Mysterio’s music. I get the microphone again. I said, ‘Look, this ain’t funny,’ and Scott gets out of the ring because he sees now I can’t talk. I throw the microphone down and I start power walking up the ramp.
“And I get up there, and it’s a ghost town. Everybody’s gone, and I just just destroyed the Gorilla position, just mad. They said, ‘Vince and everyone left,’ and I said, ‘What?’ They left. And I just quit. I kicked the door in. Ryan Ward, bless his heart, was the only one in the writers room. He’s like, ‘Mark, I don’t have nothing to do with it, man. They left. They went,’ and I ran down the hallway to the carport. And I could see the limos pulling out of the area, and I call Vince. ‘Motherf*ck him’ and told him I quit, don’t call me. I’m done, yada, yada, yada.”
Henry spoke on what his conversation was like with McMahon after the incident. He recalled his reaction and revealed what McMahon said to convince him to take on the “Hall of Pain” persona.
“And the next week, Vince calls me. I’m not answering his calls,” Henry said. “I don’t know how they got my wife’s phone number. I guess from an emergency contact list. They called her, and she was like, ‘Will you answer them and talk to them because they called me?’ I called. It wasn’t Vince I talked to. I can’t remember who it was now. I was so angry about it.
“I just shut it all out, but he was like, ‘Look man, just come to the show. We’re not expecting you to work anything. We just want you to come and clear this up. If you’re done, you’re done, but leave on a good note.’ It might have been Jim Ross. I don’t know. I go, and Vince is crying. He’s apologetic. He’s serious. He’s like, ‘Man, I didn’t know this was gonna hurt your feelings. I just thought it was a rib and yada yada. We just sat here. We’ve done thousands of ribs,’ but it was in the ring. I never had nobody joke on me in the ring, in front of the fans. I felt stupid, and he apologized.
“He was a man about it, and he was like, ‘Man, I love you. I’m not trying to hurt you. I was just playing and stuff, but can I show you something?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, sh*t, what now? And then, ‘Kevin, play the footage of Mark in the ring,’ and it looked like that video, that famous video, that they show of Sasquatch. I look like a monster. It didn’t look nothing like me.
“I was embarrassed for being that out of control, and he was like, ‘If you can do that, we’ll do really well. That’s what wrestling needs, a real, real monster.’ And I was like, ‘Man, I can’t be like that in the ring with one of the boys. I’ll hurt somebody.’ He said, ‘No, you won’t. You know how to work. You just gotta think and be really thoughtful about it. I’m not asking you to go out there and plan a bunch of stuff. Just go out there and be that and don’t kill nobody.’ And that’s what we did. We ended up with the most profitable point in my career.”
Jericho asked Henry if he could have imagine the success he would have with the “Hall of Pain”. Henry explained why other wrestlers enjoyed working with him during this time.
“I couldn’t believe it. There was no way in a million years I would have thought me being angry, and mean, and belligerent would supersede me being the good guy,” Henry admitted. “I went back and looked at stuff that I did in The Nation, we were kind of militant and angry. It was entertaining angry. 2009 ‘Hall of Pain’ Mark Henry was scary.
“You thought somebody was gonna die, and during that time, I talked to Rip Rogers about nerve holds and trying to do stuff that looked like it hurt, and stuff that really did actually hurt. I was gonna have to really work it. So I started doing all that stuff during that time, and it just fit perfectly. That became the thing. I started trying to pull people’s arms off and legs off. It was the biggest success.
“I was working with the elite of the elite, and everybody wanted to work with me during that time because it was a night off because all I did was a Vader and a bodyslam. Everything else was me putting you in cranks and holds. It did hurt if I would apply a little pressure, but that’s in a nutshell who I became. I’m wrestling Taker at main events in WrestleMania and sh*t like that. And I was like, I would have did this a long time ago if I knew I was gonna get a check like this. That good guy sh*t is for the birds.”
Henry later discussed his highlights throughout his career. He revealed which career accomplishments he looks back fondly on.
“WrestleMania 22 with Undertaker is way up there. I mean, anytime you get in the main event at WrestleMania, you made it,” Henry pointed out. “And winning the World Championship with Randy [Orton] in Hell in a Cell. I still thank Randy all the time because Randy was on fire at that moment, and I came in and it was shocking to the world that it happened, especially the way that it happened. You appreciate it.
“I’m really appreciative of the people like Daniel Bryan, and Big Show, and Ric Flair. I still told a friend of mine about this Ric Flair match in the gym the other day. Ric chopped me 10 times, and then I head butted him five times. He fell over, rolled out. I picked him up, threw him into the post. He wiggled behind, pushed me into the post. We got back in and went into the championship sequence. I always call it Ric Flair’s championship sequence where he starts taking all this stuff, and I was like, man, I experienced that.
“I had a match of Ric Flair, and he chopped me like a mark, like a fan. And I’m gonna take that to the grave with me. I was a little bit aggravated, just to be honest and to be candid. You did your favorite matches, and me and MVP, we had a match with JeriShow and we didn’t get no love. I’m sensitive, Chris. I want to be the first guy to come up to you and say, ‘Hey, why wasn’t I on the top 100?’
“When I do the paperback version, I’ll add some extra matches,” Jericho stated. “I’ll put you in there for sure.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.