Over the last few months, Mark Henry has torn through the WWE roster, inducting WWE superstars into his “Hall of Pain.” Since winning a 20-man battle royal to become the number one contender for the World Heavyweight Championship, Henry has focused his terror on Randy Orton. “The World’s Strongest Man” and “The Viper” clash this Sunday at Night of Champions.
Here are ten things you need to know about what promises to be a brutal title match.
Since WWE introduced Night of Champions in 2007, new champions have been crowned in only 40% of title matches. With five title matches slated for Sunday night, history would suggest only two new champions will be crowned. Those odds are not in Mark Henry’s favor.
However, that trend is turning.
Momentum is with the challengers, not the champions. At Night of Champions 2010, five belts were on the line, and four of them changed hands. If last year’s results hold, Mark Henry will likely leave Buffalo with the World Heavyweight Championship.
Henry has only competed twice at Night of Champions, and he has a 1-1 record at the event. He will need to reverse this tendency if he wishes to conquer Randy Orton and become WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
Henry teamed with Evan Bourne in a tag team turmoil match at last year’s Night of Champion, but they did not leave with the titles.
“The World’s Strongest Man” was victorious at Night of Champions in 2008. More on that later.
“The Viper” has won two of three Night of Champions matches in his career. In 2007, Orton lost to John Cena at Night of Champions, but he has not tasted defeat at the event since.
In 2008, Orton won a physical Triple Threat match for the WWE Championship against Triple H and Cena, and last year he was victorious in a six-pack challenge, again for the WWE Championship.
Randy Orton has enjoyed success at Night of Champions, and he will need to bring his A-game if his success is to continue.
In 2008, Mark Henry took on the Big Show and Kane in a triple threat match for ECW Heavyweight championship. The three warriors, weighing in at over half a ton collectively, brutalized each other as only three giants of the ring can.
Henry emerged victorious and gained his most prestigious title with the most impressive victory of his lengthy career.
Excluding the 2007 No Mercy event when Orton was handed the WWE Championship, lost it to Triple H, and won it back at the end of night, the typical Randy Orton title reign lasts just over a month. He held the WWE Championship for approximately six months before losing it to Triple H, but that is the exception, not the rule.
Orton regained the belt approximately a month ago at SummerSlam, so it is likely that he will drop the gold sometime soon.
The list of enormous WWE title-holders is as long as the Great Khali’s wrestling gear. Some of the largest athletes in the universe have held the gold including Andre the Giant, the Big Show, and the Undertaker. Recently, however, the title scene has been dominated by average-sized (average for wrestlers, anyway) superstars like John Cena, Christian, CM Punk and Alberto Del Rio.
At 6’4”, 398lbs, Mark Henry would be the biggest World Heavyweight Champion since Kane won the belt at Money in the Bank 2010.
A Mark Henry championship reign could be a return to form for the WWE, or the WWE might continue running out smaller, more athletic champions.
Randy Orton has made a career of winning titles from bigger men. He holds victories over Sheamus, Triple H, and Batista for the WWE Championship.
Randy Orton will not be intimidated by the mass of Mark Henry.
Even though he has not always won, Orton has plenty of experience wrestling larger competitors. He took on the Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match. He has faced the Big Show several times, and nearly every time Orton steps foot in the squared circle he is outsized.
“The World’s Strongest Man” has waited five years to main event a pay-per-view. That’s half a decade. To put it in perspective, The Departed came out that year. The man Mark Henry challenged for the World Heavyweight Championship was Kurt Angle who wrestles for a company that did not exist the last time Mark Henry headlined a pay-per-view.
Going five years without a World Heavyweight Title match accounts for Henry’s aggressive attitude and the opening of his “Hall of Pain.” He is angry, hungry and determined to leave Night of Champions with Randy Orton’s belt.
I have some bad news; this match may not end cleanly. As much as everyone would like to see a compelling bout with a definitive winner, both Orton and Henry have made so many enemies that one is bound to influence this match.
Randy Orton’s feud with former World Heavyweight champ Christian has been touted as one of the most heated rivalries of all time. “The Viper” and “Captain Charisma” competed in a series of matches over the last few months, culminating in a steel cage match on a Smackdown Supershow earlier this month. Christian has made no secret of his desire to capture Orton’s gold, and he may interfere in his match at Night of Champions.
Mark Henry opened a “Hall of Pain” and brutally insulted his inductees. Kane, the Big Show, and Ezekiel Jackson were all victimized by Henry. Chances are, one of them will ruin Henry’s moment in a violent act of vengeance.
Mark Henry has done everything the WWE has asked him to do and it is time his loyalty is rewarded.
He played a supporting role in the Nation of Domination, relegated to being D-Lo Brown’s tag team partner. The duo was entertaining, and D-Lo became popular, but the pairing did not do much for Mark Henry.
During the “Sexual Chocolate” days, Henry was willing to put himself in awkward and embarrassing situations (one involving being caught on tape with a transvestite) for the good of Raw. Sure, it was all a show, but how many WWE superstars can you imagine doing what Mark Henry did?
Henry was also on board with a ridiculous storyline where he would perform silly feats of strength for the enjoyment and gambling of his fellow superstars. He was on television often, but instead of looking forward to his matches, people were looking forward to his stunts.
Injury has slowed Mark Henry during his fifteen year stint in the WWE. These setbacks may have cost him title reigns earlier in his career, but each time he returned as a better performer.
For fifteen years, Mark Henry has endured goofy gimmicks. He has lived with hastily thrown together tag team partnerships. He has helped other superstars get over.
This Sunday at Night of Champions, it is Mark Henry’s time.