Former World Heavyweight Champion and World’s Strongest Man, Mark Henry, celebrated the 20th anniversary of his first WWE match on 22nd September 2016. Henry made his debut against Jerry “The King” Lawler at In Your House: Mind Games 20 years earlier.
During his long and relatively successful career with WWE, Henry has feuded with some of the best and greatest wrestlers of all-time and has been part of three different Eras of WWE – Attitude Era, Ruthless Aggression Era and New Era. Despite playing a bit-part role in the company currently, his legacy in pro-wrestling will surely go on for ages.
On the 20th anniversary of his debut, Henry divulged on a number of topics and revealed the emotions going through him when he made his debut and how it feels to have completed 20 years in the industry.
Speaking in an interview with WWE.com, Henry said: “You know what, man? It’s really cool. At one point in my life, I thought getting old was a bad thing. Then I realized that the prestige, the respect and the honor that people hold you at for being able to do anything for 20 years is well worth it.”
The former Olympian also revealed the difficulties he had to face before his WWE debut, switching from an anaerobic sport like weightlifting to an aerobic sport like Professional Wrestling.
He added: “It was hard because I had been an anaerobic athlete my whole life – and when I say anaerobic, I mean you do quick bursts and you can have a lot of time to rest. Your body has to get used to that. When I came into sports-entertainment, it’s an aerobic sport. You have long periods of time to get used to working. I’ve had matches go 38 minutes. To be able to move for 38 minutes and have somebody’s life in your hands is a difficult thing.”
The former World Heavyweight Champion also divulged into the details of his debut against Jerry Lawler and the emotions that he was going through at that point of time.
He said: “Oh, once you walk through that curtain, you hear those people and you look out there, it just becomes complete joy and excitement. The way Jerry put it, he was nervous too. He had worked with big guys, especially strong guys before, but he didn’t feel like those guys were anywhere near as strong as I was. I could see him being nervous. [But} it worked out great.”
He also thanked the people who were responsible for him becoming the successful professional wrestler that he is now.
“I didn’t make it here by myself. I had a lot, a lot of help. There are probably 20 or 30 people that work for WWE that had a lot to do with my development. And the talent! I worked with the best wrestlers in the last 100 years: The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Yokozuna and many, many other guys, from Vader to Kane. You don’t start at the top, and my first match was a pay-per-view with Jerry Lawler! It was a different time, and I don’t think everybody can handle that fire.”
Henry then went on to disclose the wrestler whom he took the most pride in mentoring and the answer was not really a shocker.
“There have been several. Daniel Bryan was one that I take a lot of pride in saying I saw him on the independent scene and told him what his future was going to be before he started here. He just laughed and looked at me like, “OK, I’m just happy to be here.” [Laughs] I said, “No, brother, don’t be happy to be here. You gotta take the initiative to be what I’m telling you that you could be.” Randy Orton, Kofi Kingston … To sit here and say I had a hand in [their careers] is awesome, but I can’t take credit for the work. I can only say I saw something in that person, and did my best to try and help.”
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