The greatest run of Mark Henry's WWE career had an unexpected origin story.
Henry was the most recent guest on Stone Cold Steve Austin's Broken Skull Sessions. During the appearance, he explained how WWE chairman Vince McMahon and other WWE crew members ribbed him by having him go out for a 2011 dark match with Sin Cara that never happened.
The longer he waited for Sin Cara in the ring, the less patient Henry became. Eventually he returned backstage to find most of the promotion's staff had already departed. That led Henry to call McMahon and voice his anger after he felt he had been disrespected.
McMahon was apologetic and "really remorsefully sorry" in the words of Henry. From there, McMahon drew Henry's attention to his actions and demeanor in the ring as the rib unfolded, which became the inspiration for the "Hall of Pain":
"[McMahon] said, 'Can I show you something?' And I said, 'Oh god, what's going on now?' He showed the footage of me in the ring, angry, and me coming back and then the camera goes off. It freezes and it was like that scene of the Sasquatch where it feels like they caught the Sasquatch in the woods? That was where it ended. [McMahon's] like, 'That's the most visibly afraid I've ever seen in on the screen in years and years. If you can do that in the ring, you'll make a lot of money.'"
Henry said he was hesitant about the idea because he wasn't sure he could channel that level of hatred and anger again for the purpose of a storyline. However, he ultimately proved himself wrong, "and thus the Hall of Pain was born."
Throughout the summer and fall of 2011, Henry was one of the most engaging characters in WWE. At Night of Champions 2011, he defeated Randy Orton to kick off his second world title reign.
When Henry was on-screen during that run, fans knew there was a good chance something bad could happen.
Due to his size, it didn't take much to make Henry look like a monster heel. The Hall of Pain was when he became something more and demonstrated his acting chops.
For better or worse, WWE is often at the mercy of McMahon's creative vision. In this case, he stumbled backward into how best to utilize Henry and turn him into a dynamic personality.