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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

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Retrospective: Hall Of Pain- Mark Henry's Dominance

By @MeenHendrix

Every once in a while I catch myself reminiscing on some of my favorite moments in wrestling. Another one of my favorites is the critically acclaimed Hall of Pain run in 2011 by the World's Strongest Man, Mark Henry.

For the early portion of 2011 Mark Henry drifted through the midcard as apart of the Tag Team Division, teaming with Yoshi Tatsu after his team with MVP ended in 2010. Henry would return to being a singles competitor after Wrestlemania 27.

During the 2011 Draft, Mark Henry was traded to the Smackdown brand after Smackdown's Randy Orton defeated Raw's Dolph Ziggler in the fourth match of the night. Henry would later turn heel at the end of the night turning on Smackdown teammates John Cena and Christian during a 6 Man Tag Team Match (which ironically sent John Cena back to Raw after being drafted to Smackdown during the first match of the night.)

Intially, I thought this was just another turn in the career of Henry. He had been with the company for a decade plus and hadn't been given much to work with outside of comedy angles in the Attitude Era, a run with the ECW title and a short feud with Batista in his 2006 run. However, I was admittedly(and thankfully) wrong.

Fast forward to the June 17th episode of Smackdown, Mark Henry was scheduled to face the Big Show (going through a gimmick where he was unable to control his temper and emotions). Big Show told Henry not to enter the ring and when Henry did the Big Show proceeded to destroy Henry before the match began. Henry would proceed to attack Big Show both backstage and during his matches as an act of revenge. Big Show would then cost Henry a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship, which set the stage for a match at Money In The Bank 2011 between the two massive stars. Henry went on to defeat Show and crush his ankle in between a steel chair.

This post match assult would launch what is now known as the Hall of Pain.

Henry would go on to repeat the post match assult on Kane, Vladimir Kozlov and The Great Khali. These vicious attacks would (kayfabe) intimidate other superstars into not challenging Henry to a match. Sheamus would later answer Henry's challenge and the two would face off in a match at SummerSlam which Henry won by countout after tackling Sheamus through the barricade.

Fast forward again and Henry would turn his eyes back to the World Heavyweight Championship and its holder Randy Orton. (ironically the same man that helped bring Henry back to Smackdown would lead to his own downfall). Henry would go on to win a 20 Man Battle Royal on Smackdown giving him a shot at Orton at Night of Champions. Henry would attack Orton multiple times before their match and defeat him for the World Heavyweight Championship.

After the match, Henry gave a speech directed at his doubters and haters and one line in particular stood out for me.

"I would like to welcome you all to the Hall Of Pain. This is my moment and I'm not sharing it with none of you."

Henry would continue his dominance by defeating Orton again in a Hell in a Cell match at the Pay Per View of the same name. The Big Show (who Henry put out of action a few months back) would return and chokeslam Mark Henry through an announce table, making his title intentions known. At Vengeance, Big Show and Henry would re-enact the Superplex that made the ring implode. (A move Big Show and Brock Lesnar had done 8 years earlier).

Henry would then engage in a side feud with Daniel Bryan. Henry defeated Bryan twice. Once by disqualification and once by pinfall in a Steel Cage match.

Henry would lose to Big Show at Survivor Series by DQ after a blatant low blow, helping him retain his title. After the match Big Show crushed Henry's ankle with a steel chair the same way Henry had done to him at Money in the Bank. This would also affect his side feud with Bryan, as Bryan would cash in his Money In the Bank contract after Big Show knocked Henry out. However, Mark Henry was not cleared to compete by doctors and the match was voided by Smackdown GM Theodore Long. Bryan would later win a #1 Contenders match to face Henry in the previously mentioned steel cage match which Henry won. At the Tables, Ladders and Chairs Pay Per View, Henry would drop the World Heavyweight Championship to the Big Show in a chairs match(before Daniel Bryan cashed in on him).

The Hall of Pain was Mark Henry's greatest work. Creative finally got behind him after 15 years of service and allowed him to take the ball and roll with it. Henry showed off superb skills as the top heel of the blue brand. However, Henry's run as the top guy was lackluster in the ring. In the Pro Wrestling data base Henry only registered a three star rating out of five just once during his title reign. The match I mentioned was Vengeance, but I believe it got a boost from the finish as opposed to the regular match. Henry also failed to register the average rating of 2 stars, 3 times during his reign. 3 months of lack luster matches. His feud with Big Show was unnecessarily long and he should have finished the feud coming out on top. Mark Henry made up for his in ring struggles with good mic skills. His vow to fight any and everyone rang true especially during his side feud with Daniel Bryan, which I loved. Henry embraced his role as the bully, deeming Bryan to be inferior to him. Although the WWE 2K15 video game's coverage of the Hall of Pain storyline lasted until Wrestlemania 29, I ended it prematurely at him dropping the World Title at TLC, because the title loss led to a huge drop in momentum and Henry was left off the Wrestlemania 28 card after injuring himself in a WWE Championship match with CM Punk.

-Ameen Purdie
Feedback? Twitter: @MeenHendrix