The current incarnation of Mark Henry is the exception to the rule in WWE. Despite being an African-American talent, there is no singing, dancing, shucking or jiving. There's nothing goofy about his character, despite braving the Sexual Chocolate gimmick, not to mention the persisting chants.
He was considered to be the world's strongest man by most lifting experts, according to Henry's bio on MarkHenry.tv, in 1996. Seventeen years later, the WWE still believes it. Henry is booked as a monster that breathes fire and eats wrestlers.
WWE's critically acclaimed Summer of Punk in 2011 shared parallels to an avant garde film that failed to create blockbuster appeal. Henry's run as world heavyweight champion that same year, by contrast, overachieved for WWE's bottom line, creating noticeable differences in SmackDown's ratings throughout.
WWE's rare refusal to make Mark Henry an "entertainer" who cannot be taken seriously (like The Prime Time Players and R-Truth) is a testament to his impeccable range as a performer.
It's the type of other-worldly range that a superstar of Henry's disposition has to have in order to avoid being slated as a glorified minstrel act.
Henry as a performer was at his Hall of Fame best Monday night. He legitimately sobbed through a phony retirement speech, in turn casting the world's largest fishing pole into Grand Rapids, Michigan. The crowd bit. Hook, line and sinker.
Cena's involvement was almost as valuable to this angle as Henry's from a creative standpoint. The proud incumbent champion warned the uncrowned Money in the Bank winner that he would always be ready. The mission statement of Cena's pre-Henry promo was that the champ was impervious to being blindsided.
The Money in the Bank pay-per-view is less than a month away. 'Tis the season to never let one's guard down.
When Henry appeared to be retiring, Cena immediately let his guard down. Then he was blindsided.
Mark Henry endured affectionate chants of "Henry," "one more match" and, of course, "sexual chocolate" from a suckered wrestling crowd despite the know-it-all era of dirtsheets and social media.
When JBL solemnly, yet shrewdly, announced that the WWE Championship was the only championship Mark Henry hasn't won, it seemed like a depressing proclamation. Another WWE generation in danger of coming and going without a black WWE champion.
In hindsight, it was a teaser. WWE could finally see some long-overdue history.
Mark Henry's final career goal is to become WWE champion. Despite roaring, "I still got a lot left in the tank!" like only he can, Henry's recent string of injuries says otherwise, as he is clearly in his career twilight.
A WWE Championship win over John Cena would be treated as a lifetime achievement award more than a legitimate title run.
But given the extended drought of a black WWE champion, that will have to be good enough.
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