Mark Henry is just one of what seems like about a million heels in the WWE today, but he’s also one of the few superstars who could be taken seriously as the top heel in the company.
Over the last few years, Henry has developed into one of the WWE’s most entertaining acts. Once a joke of a babyface who resembled the Kool-Aid man and fathered a hand-child with Mae Young, he’s won over fans with his intensity, impressive power and, as of late, his “That’s what I do!” catchphrase.
Nowadays, not many heels—if any—are more intimidating than Henry, whose dominating presence alone makes up for an, at best, average in-ring skill set and limited athletic ability.
Despite that, though, Henry has somehow managed to become a guilty pleasure of wrestling fans. We’ve grown to love watching him pull 55,000-pound trucks, talk trash better than nearly anyone in the WWE and wreak havoc on anyone who gets in his path.
Now, we just might watch him take the top heel spot in the entire company.
While some may not view Henry as worthy of being the WWE’s No. 1 heel, current circumstances could very well make it happen anyway. After all, the normally heel-heavy WWE is missing two of its top villains right now.
CM Punk is currently on the shelf right after being granted time off to heal his aching body. He deserves the break after putting himself through hell over the last few years as arguably the biggest workhorse in the company, but his absence has certainly put the WWE in a bit of a bind.
Punk has been given time off, and unfortunately, Dolph Ziggler has been forced out of action after suffering a serious concussion at a SmackDown taping a few weeks ago.
In just a few weeks span, the WWE took arguably its two top heels completely off of TV, resulting in a weakened main event scene that currently lacks a clear-cut No. 1 heel.
That’s not great news for the WWE, but it does open up a major opportunity for Henry if he's not being written off of TV and/or turning face as some are speculating.
The creative team recently pulled the trigger on a Ryback heel turn and is now pushing him hard as the challenger to John Cena’s WWE Championship. But at least so far, Ryback is receiving rather lackluster reactions from the crowd, and there’s certainly no guarantee that—after largely failing as a babyface—he’ll succeed as a heel, either.
The WWE obviously wants him to become its top heel during Punk’s absence, but judging by what we’ve seen over the last several weeks, that may never happen.
Meanwhile, some of the WWE’s other top heels appear to be taking slides down the card.
After a great run in 2012, Big Show now appears to be back in the midcard and is fresh off a clean loss to Randy Orton at Extreme Rules. Similarly, Jack Swagger just lost to Alberto Del Rio at Extreme Rules and then followed that loss up with another one the next night on Raw against Randy Orton.
Excluding its sidelined stars (Ziggler and Punk), who is currently the WWE's top heel?
There are plenty of other talented heels in the WWE at the moment, like Antonio Cesaro, Wade Barrett and Damien Sandow. But besides the three members of The Shield, not a single one of them is getting any real type of push at the moment.
Thus, perhaps only by default, you could make a strong case for Henry already being the WWE’s No. 1 heel.
He’s been involved in two major feuds since returning earlier this year—one with Ryback and one with Sheamus—and though he lost to Sheamus at Extreme Rules, he’s still been booked pretty strongly overall.
Henry has gotten a lot of TV time (weightlifting competition, arm wrestling, pulling the trucks, etc.), and he’s been portrayed as an unstoppable and dominant heel who’s right on the cusp of that main event scene. He’s seemingly just one step away from being thrust right back into either the WWE or World Heavyweight Championship picture.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that Henry is going to reach the top of the WWE as a World champion like he did in 2011. But with Punk and Ziggler out as well as the WWE’s refusal to push a number of up-and-coming heels, Henry is the guy at the moment.
He may not be challenging for World titles or even main-eventing Raw and SmackDown, but the fans are buying into him more than they are buying into Ryback, Swagger or any other heel who’s being pushed right now.
And until Ziggler and/or Punk comes back, Henry will officially be the WWE’s biggest and best heel.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!