On this week's SmackDown it was made official, Mark Henry is the No. 1 contender for the World Heavyweight Championship at Night of Champions.
Henry won this contendership through a 20-man over the top battle royal. While the match unfolded as a standard battle royal would, one superstar stood out from the rest. Henry was portrayed as an aggressive monster heel. Not only winning the match, but eliminating The Great Khali.
During a portion of the match Henry was outside of the ring and took it upon himself to destroy every superstar that was being eliminated.
It seems the WWE can do no wrong with Mark Henry over the last few months. Arguably the most impressive run of his career, it seemed only a matter of time until he got his shot at the World Championship.
Unfortunately, Mark Henry has been misused for most of his career (or otherwise he would have had this run long ago), and he doesn't yet have drawing power.
Being at the top of the WWE is all about drawing power. Hulk Hogan, The Rock and John Cena all have (or had) drawing power.
Yes, Randy Orton vs. Mark Henry in it's early stages is shaping up to be a great feud. Imagine the heat Henry will get for attacking everyone's golden boy Randy Orton.
While this is the case, I'm having my doubts about the casual audience. Many of us Internet smarks are praising Mark Henry in his current role, however whether we like it or not isn't important because we'll (mostly) all be watching regardless. That's the type of fans we are.
Will the casual fan fork out money to see Mark Henry wrestle Randy Orton? The easy answer is yes, as Randy already has a huge fan base that will mark out for a victory over Henry.
However Mark Henry may not be appealing to a casual audience. If he were, why would the WWE wait three years between every Mark Henry "mini-push?"
I'm sure many fans still view Mark Henry as an illegitimate threat to Randy Orton. After all, he has been misused as a generic face for over a year.
I'm sure the WWE could make it work, if they were willing to have Henry look dominate over Orton, otherwise there is no real reason to believe Mark can defeat him. That's the essence of his monster heel gimmick, that he can plow through any superstar.
As such, the most effective way to use him would be to portray him as a serious challenge for Orton.
Furthermore, I have concerns regarding Henry's in-ring ability. Admittedly he has stepped up his game in recent times, however it isn't often he works a great match, which is what this feud needs to conclude with (or start with, depending on the length of the feud).
His match with Sheamus at SummerSlam was decent, but a match for the WHC requires more. As it is one of the main events of Night of Champions, the WWE can't take the easy way out and book a short match to compensate.
The saving grace is Randy Orton. He is a fantastic opponent for the bigger wrestlers to work off of, as Randy can carry the fast paced moments of the match.
I think it will require a great match at Night of Champions to convince both the casual audience and the IWC that Mark Henry can be a consistent player in the main event. Perhaps a world title run is in the works, it would be arguably the better option, as Randy may work better if he is chasing the WHC.
It would work better than it did against Christian, as Christian was booked as a weak champion. Whereas Mark Henry would be a monster on SmackDown.
Needless to say, I think Night of Champions will require great matches on the card if it will be sold to the audience. It may be too late to sell us on Mark Henry, however logical booking from now until Night of Champions could get the job done.
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