Mark Henry is heading for a showdown with John Cena at WWE’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view on Sunday, July 14. Though many fans feel that Henry will not win the match and take home the gold, the fact is that he is among the best, strong heel opponents to face Cena.
And for me, Henry is the best.
It is a big statement, I know. Trust me; I do not make this claim lightly. In fact, it is one of those bold statements that usually invites not only debate, but also hate. Intense, unspeakable hate.
Well, maybe not. I mean, we are all friends here. Right?
The fact is that no one in WWE is as consistently good at being bad as The World’s Strongest Man. Brock Lesnar is big and violent, Ryback is crazy intense and The Shield is aggressively cunning. However, none of them can make a crowd hate the way Henry can.
Why? Because the guy just absolutely fits the role perfectly.
Mark knows who he is and what he can do. He is very comfortable in his own skin and fans can see that. When he speaks, it feels real. When he threatens to whoop John Cena, it is very believable.
And when Mark looks into the camera, it’s scary.
Henry is the real deal. He is the true definition of what a heel is and, at the moment, no one else comes close. However, Mark has only recently reclaimed this position in my mind because the Superstar who reigned above all other heels has now turned to the light.
CM Punk was the best heel that WWE had seen in a very long time. From the moment that he attacked The Rock on last year’s Raw 1000 to when Undertaker pinned him at WrestleMania 29, Punk was more controversial and more despised than he had been in years.
And he loved every minute of it.
Like Henry, Punk absolutely excels as a heel. He totally embraces the role, so much that it is hard to even imagine him as a babyface or remember when he was on that side of the fence. Punk revelled in the hate that was thrown at him, and no one was better at getting heat than he was.
For me, the height of Punk’s heel run was his program with Undertaker. On the night that Punk dumped the fictitious ashes of Paul Bearer all over Taker’s body and then wiped them on his own face, he absolutely peaked as a heel. When that happened, the only place he could go was back to being a fan favorite because he had done everything he could to heel out.
He had conquered the role and now he has moved on. And he left Henry to rule as WWE’s No. 1 heel.
So, does that mean that Henry will disrespect a dead manager, or pull a crazy stunt with an urn the way Punk did? Of course not.
But what Henry can do is physically dominate in the ring and intimidate on the mic.
And speaking of his promo work, has he ever sounded any better than he does right now? Again, Henry is so good at immersing himself into his character that heeling out on the mic has become like second nature to him. When he growls a threat to John Cena—or to anyone else for that matter—there is nothing about his words that feels forced or phony.
Let’s not forget about his “retirement” promo from a few weeks back. It was perhaps the finest of his career, and I believe that in terms of his accomplishments and overall effect in WWE, it ranks right next to his World Heavyweight Championship victory over Randy Orton back in 2011.
The core values of a heel are very simple. The fact is he has none. Basically, he will do whatever is necessary to get what he wants. And he will use any means at his disposal, including lying to those around him. He is conniving, heartless and he is supremely self-confident.
And he is hated for it.
This is Mark Henry. He is as old school as they come and would fit into any era of the business. He knows what his job is, and he does it very well.
Does Henry have the main event record of accomplishment of Brock Lesnar? No. Does he have the personality of CM Punk or the 434-day WWE title reign to make him stand out from the rest of the locker room? No.
But when Henry is on his game, he is the most legitimately scary and most effective heel on the entire WWE roster. And despite whether he wins or loses at Money in the Bank, right now Henry is definitely on his game. He will continue to intimidate and overpower anyone standing in his way while impressing fans as the company’s current best heel.
After all, that’s what he does.