If this article bores you, tune back in at the end because I’ll be posting a list the Best Matches from the WWE in 2011 as voted on by puroresu.tv. It’s a good list, and I hope ya’ll suckers will comment on the placement even if you don’t care to read about why Blair is wrong on Mark Henry.
It’s come to my attention that Blair Douglas doesn’t like Mark Henry. This might have come to the attention of all of you back when Blair was whining about it constantly in Interinactivity columns to the point where he said, “ENOUGH!!! I will have a child with Mark Henry, but I will not, under any circumstances, be entertained by that man.” Blair then spun a disc of Moody Blues Nights in White Satin techno’d up with some lameness and called it a day.
Or, some such variation of that scene.
Point is, Blair thinks Mark Henry is not shit and I’ve come to a conclusion recently that Mark Henry kind of is shit. The shit. Decently shit.
Shit being good, in this instance.
Blair then challenged me to write a column about Mark Henry’s 2011. I said to him, “look, I might, I’m kind of bored in the office, but I was planning on writing out a list of ‘who is more badass: Sonny Crockett or Method Man.’”
The list would have been spectacular, but, if you’re skimming these words, alas, that list may never get produced. You can blame Blair for that. Don’t worry, he blames himself. He’s so distraught he stuck a fork into his bicep to see if he still felt pain.
So, let’s talk about Mark Henry, baby.
I was a bit behind on the Mark Henry front. I don’t watch WWE PPVs. It’s not necessarily because I’m completely against them. I’m mostly against them, but, it’s mainly because I don’t download the shows or stream the shows, but, also, don’t want to pay for them on PPV or on DVD without knowing I might get something good. So, as such, the only WWE PPV action I’ve seen this year has been Money in the Bank and the Best of PPV matches for 2011.
So, it somewhat snuck up on me when I produced a Top 20 matches list of the WWE in 2011 and I wound up with FIVE Mark Henry matches on the list. More on that list at THE END, ya’ll.
That’s not a small number, it was the most of any one guy on my particular list. Now, like I said above, I don’t see nearly enough WWE to make a definitive list, but, the point remains, all told, I dug me some Mark Henry in 2011.
I’m not here to call Mark Henry a great wrestler.
Half a year is certainly too small a sample size for that anyway. But, I do think Henry is between the spot of “not fucking terrible” and “good.” Most people on Smackdown fall below that “not fucking terrible” threshold, however. Randy Orton, for instance, comes in at a threshold along the lines of, “HOLY SHIT ARE YOU KIDDING ME WHY AM I NOT BLIND RIGHT NOW?”
You’re probably asking yourself right now, Newbury, why do this column, isn’t Blair’s opinion on who is a good wrestler completely irrelevant considering he believes Frankie Kazarian to be a good wrestler?
Very good point.
Blair is also in denial about Mark Henry. It’s one thing for Blair to dislike the guy as a wrestler, but, when I pointed out that Smackdown TV ratings were up for the time period that Henry held the World Title, he dismissed those and did the internet equivalent of speaking like Wade Barrett. It was hard to understand much of his incoherent excuses for why Smackdown’s ratings have improved with Henry. So, I’ll just throw out the number and anyone can feel free to run with it positively or negatively.
Smackdown did a 1.95 average for the year. From the Smackdown after Henry won the World Title until the end of the year, the show did a 2.05. My point in the rating isn’t that it’s the beginning or end of the argument on how good Henry has been. Do I think anyone else has produced a ratings increase of that level over a 3 and a half month period? With the exception of The Rock, I doubt anyone else moves the ratings that much for the current WWE product.
So, why do I like Henry? Why does Blair hate Henry?
Well, I can’t answer why Blair hates Henry, but, I think it’s likely safe to assume it’s because Blair doesn’t give a fuck about shit making sense. And, for the most part, Henry tries to make sure shit makes sense. Sure, there are some notable examples with Henry’s work, such as the ending to that cage match with Daniel Bryan on the Holiday Smackdown, where Henry cold stops giving a damn about his injured leg to try and climb out of the cage.
But, damn, there was some really good work in the 10 minutes that came before that.
Henry’s stuff is a bit rare for WWE. It’s not beholden to finishers, and even the best match the WWE had to offer this suffers a bit from not having some place to go because they rely on their finishers a ton. Now, granted, Punk/Cena had to fill 30 minutes and the average Henry match goes 10. But, that’s part of why I don’t call Henry a great worker. He’s obviously limited.
Yet, even within those limitations, he comes off as one of the more creative guys currently. Each Henry match, it seems like he comes up with something unique to work over his opponent with, and often fits that into the psychology of the match. A good example is the match with Randy Orton where he was working over the back and then did a modified bow and arrow submission with Orton’s back and the ringpost. He’s one of the few guys on their roster that really gives me an impression that they’re going to try and keep it fresh.
Henry is solid when it comes to selling. The cage match with Bryan was probably the best selling job I’ve seen from a WWE match this year, up until that finish. Which is a big deal, but, it’s a damn captivating match before that. It’s just too bad they went with a cheap pop finisher than something that fit what came before it.
Going back to the point where I first started to notice Henry, it was Money in the Bank. He had a match with Big Show that was fairly innocuous. But, it was also a smartly worked match, just, way too short and without a proper finish.
But, truth be told, I wasn’t sure Henry was capable of that sort of match. Those seven minutes made me stop to think about the possibilities. And, in the months since, I think Henry’s performed at a fairly high level. I think there is a ceiling for how good Henry can be, because he’s not going to captivate an audience for 20-30 minutes, although, I’m kind of disappointed they haven’t let him and Danielson try it. Because, in terms of in match psychology, I think he’s been up there with Punk and Danielson for the most part.
There seems to be more depth to Henry’s character than anything else in the WWE product currently. Even including CM Punk’s run. Henry’s been a monster character, but, at the same time, he’s portrayed vulnerability against Big Show. The stuff makes sense, and sure, it’s still simple stuff, but, it’s been more than just catchphrases like Best in the World, Ice Cream Bars, or Embrace the Hate. And, yeah, I get that there’s a catchphrase in there with the Hall of Pain. But, Henry’s gone beyond that, and I think that’s been in large part due to his work in the matches.
There was a moment in that match against Bryan where, knowing they were likely to turn Bryan heel soon, it seemed as if they were trying to put sympathy on Henry for the ankle injury. His reaction when Orton went to hit him with the RKO before Henry shrugged it off and became Champ? Really good stuff. And, very different in how Henry worked those moments. Same with the match against The Big Show.
A lot of times, WWE matches feel like they are killing time. The entire Randy Orton – Christian series felt that way to me. It’s easy for me to put Henry’s work ahead of stuff like that and other WWE work, because, it always seems like there is a purpose to the Henry stuff. They’re not just killing time before a finish.
And, I appreciate that, because it’s so rare to see that from a WWE guy.
So, yeah, I think Henry’s 2011 was deserving of strong praise.
I’ve probably only briefly gone into what I enjoyed about Henry, because the rest might be a bit more details-oriented that could bore some people. Speaking of boring some folks, I told you if you do get bored, to tune back in at the end for a list of WWE’s Best matches of 2011. Well, I hope you did, because, here is that list. I encourage you to check out puroresu.tv for some wrestling discussion, or, just comment on the list below.
Puroresu.tv’s 2011 Best Matches in the WWE