It would take quite a while to compile a list of all of the superstars who deserve to become either WWE or World Heavyweight Champion at some point in 2013.
Right off the bat, names like Randy Orton, Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan and Chris Jericho come to mind. There’s even a case to be made for someone like Ryback or Wade Barrett.
But there’s another WWE superstar whose name might not be mentioned in the same breath as those other guys but is also worthy of a World title reign later this year: Mark Henry.
After missing much of 2012 recovering from surgery, “The World’s Strongest Man” returned just after the Royal Rumble and has been booked as the WWE’s resident unstoppable monster ever since.
Henry has lost just one match since returning, but his performance in that match was quite memorable.
That loss came inside the Elimination Chamber only after he was hit with three moves by three different superstars and after he had already eliminated both Kane and Bryan. In other words, Henry left that match looking very strong even though he didn’t pick up the victory.
It was that one loss that has been sandwiched between a boatload of wins for Mark Henry, including a clean win over Orton on SmackDown last month. It’s clear that—although he’s not currently in the World title picture—Henry is a very big priority for the creative team right now.
The WWE seems to be booking Henry much like it did in 2011, when he wreaked havoc on SmackDown by inducting a number of other superstars into his “Hall of Pain” en route to becoming the World Heavyweight Champion.
Henry’s rise to the top of SmackDown that year came as quite a shocker to most of us. He had spent years stuck in mediocrity—flip-flopping between face and heel and often settling into a comedic role—so his fantastic 2011 almost blindsided us.
It was a pleasant surprise, though. As one of the few stars from the 1990s who is still around today, Henry has a special place in many of our hearts, and it was great to see him finally reach the pinnacle of his profession after a number of down years.
Now, Henry is right back on the same path that he was on just a couple of years ago. He’s an absolute wrecking machine who is arguably the most physically intimidating and dominant superstar in the company.
The WWE has to capitalize on that before it’s too late.
Henry will turn 42 years old later this year, and in all likelihood, he doesn’t have very much time left in the ring. There’s even been speculation that he could wrestle his last match at WrestleMania 29.
If Henry is indeed close to hanging up the boots for good, then the WWE would be wise to give him one last run with the World Heavyweight title. After all, he’s truly a one-of-a-kind superstar.
Strong as an ox and a behemoth in the truest sense of the word, Henry is such an impressive physical specimen. He is truly a sight to behold and as intimidating as they come—much more so than guys like Ryback or Sheamus, who pride themselves on being imposing superstars.
You can’t just create another Henry, and the WWE can’t just let him ride off into the sunset without giving him a proper goodbye.
That farewell should come in the form of one last World title run—a reign that will serve two purposes: A “thank you” for everything he’s done for the company and a way for him to truly “pass the torch.”
We always mentions guys like The Undertaker, Kane and Triple H as the “last of a dying breed,” but it’s rather unfortunate that Henry is almost always left out of that discussion. Although Henry hasn’t racked up the accomplishments that those guys have, he’s astoundingly been a consistent presence on WWE TV since way back in 1996.
You have to be impressed by Henry’s nearly unmatched longevity and his ability to stay relevant and persevere. It took him 15 years to win a World title (sorry, ECW), which just goes to show that patience pays off if you’re able to wait until your time comes.
Henry’s time came in 2011, but with the clock ticking on Henry’s career, his time is still here in 2013.
In all likelihood, he will lose to Ryback at this year’s WrestleMania in what may very well be his last match, or at least his last WrestleMania match ever. But Henry has a little more to give to the WWE.
Should the WWE decide to let Henry have one more run with the belt, he can dominate the competition for several months, just like he did in 2011, before losing his title to an up-and-coming star.
With the way that he’s been booked since his return, anyone who beats Henry is going to come out of that match looking like a bigger star than he was when he entered it. If the World title is thrown into that mix, it’s going to mean even more for the man who topples Henry.
Just a few years ago, no one would have said that about Henry. But in truly shocking fashion, Henry has reminded us not to forget about him and to appreciate everything that he’s done in pro wrestling.
Guess what, big man? We noticed, and we can’t help but be impressed.
You’ve been around for nearly two decades now, and it’s time to finish off your career with something that very few people ever expected you to have: a run with the World Heavyweight Championship.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!