It may have taken him 15 years to finally come into his own, but there is no doubt that Mark Henry is one of the most fearsome and effective heels on the WWE roster. It just so happens that the WWE is short on main-event-level heels at the moment, so 2013 promises to be the year that The World's Strongest Man nabs the greatest prize in professional wrestling.
I never considered myself to be a fan of Henry until his heel turn during the summer of 2011. Henry was scuffling as a happy-go-lucky face, but he turned on John Cena after being drafted to SmackDown and never looked back. Henry went on to become World Heavyweight Champion by defeating Randy Orton at Night of Champions in September of 2011.
Will Mark Henry be WWE Champion in 2013?
That marked Henry's first true world title victory in the WWE, as the ECW Championship really didn't count. Henry held the belt for a couple months before losing to Big Show at TLC, which then resulted in Daniel Bryan successfully cashing in his Money in the Bank contract. Henry continued to entertain after that, but injuries slowed him down and he ultimately had to undergo surgery.
Henry missed nine months of action before returning several weeks ago following a match between Bryan and Rey Mysterio. Henry tossed Bryan aside and proceeded to destroy both Mysterio and Sin Cara. With that, The World's Strongest Man announced his comeback and his intention to take out everyone who stands in his path.
Henry hasn't discriminated when it comes to his attacks since returning, as he has wreaked havoc on most of the roster. Henry has taken out The Great Khali on numerous occasions, and he made a big splash at Elimination Chamber. Henry didn't win that match, as Jack Swagger, Chris Jericho and Orton combined to eliminate him, but he delivered a World's Strongest Slam to each of them after taking the fall.
For as great as Henry has been recently, his future is definitely in doubt. It is quite unclear who he'll face at WrestleMania, although his staredown with Ryback suggests that it will be him. Also, there is no guarantee that he'll be around after 'Mania. According to WrestleNewz.com, Henry admitted in an interview with Eurosport Turkey that his WWE contract expires after WrestleMania XXIX. With that in mind, it isn't outside the realm of possibility that the 41-year-old Henry could be on the road to retirement in the near future.
I obviously can't speak for Henry since I don't know how he feels about the situation, but as an outsider it seems to me like there is good reason for him to re-sign. The only established main-event heels on the roster right now are CM Punk and Big Show. Punk is just coming off a 434-day WWE Championship reign, so he'll be out of the picture for a while. Big Show recently lost the world title and most fans seem to be sick of him in general.
That puts Henry in a very advantageous position. In all likelihood, Cena will beat The Rock for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania. If that comes to fruition, then Cena will need new challengers moving forward. Unless the WWE turns someone heel like Ryback or Orton, there honestly aren't many options. Arguably, Henry would be the most sensible rival for Cena, as he presents a definite threat to the company's top face.
Perhaps injuries are mounting for Henry and he is content with what he has already accomplished in the WWE. If that is the case, then I certainly won't blame him if he opts to retire. If Henry still feels as though he has plenty to give and can be a top heel, though, he owes it to himself to stick around and get that opportunity because he has definitely earned it.
Cena figures to have a fairly lengthy title run after WrestleMania, as the WWE has really bought into keeping the belts on guys for a significant amount of time. With that in mind, Henry likely won't prevail if he is Cena's first challenger after WrestleMania. The WWE will likely want to transition the WWE Championship to another face like Sheamus or Ryback (if he remains face) at some point in 2013. That is where Henry comes in, as he can act as a bridge from Cena to someone else.
The World's Strongest Man probably wouldn't be given an overly long reign, but it would be the culmination of a lot of hard work. If there is one guy on the current roster who hasn't yet won the WWE Championship but deserves to, it's Henry. He is a late bloomer compared to a lot of the other top stars on the roster, but he has finally found his purpose and should be rewarded.
I don't support putting titles on guys simply because they're old, but that isn't the case with Henry. He is certainly in the twilight of his career and doesn't have many opportunities left, but he just so happens to be arguably the best heel on the current roster. If a heel holds the WWE Championship at any point this year, then Henry is the obvious choice.
All of this obviously lies with the creative team, so you never know what might happen. Provided Henry re-signs, though, I am very confident that he will finally reach the pinnacle of the sport in 2013. Henry is one of the few physical threats to Cena on the current roster and he would be an ideal transitional champion that the fans would absolutely buy into.