The latest round of WWE releases which included Braun Strowman and Aleister Black have caused much consternation across the wrestling world. Appearing on a recent episode of Renee Paquette’s Oral Sessions podcast, WWE Hall of Famer Mark Henry has attempted to unravel the news.
Henry, who has recently signed with AEW, initially reflected on his time in WWE, recalling his unofficial work backstage in scouting new talent.
The creator and keeper of the Hall of Pain, recalled his time working alongside Senior Director of Talent Development Canyon Ceman, listing off the stars he helped bring to WWE, including Braun Strowman.
“I brought in Rich Swann and Uhaa, Apollo Crews,” Henry said. “There was a bunch of guys. I was mentoring Baron Corbin. I saw Braun Strowman at a strong man show and I was like ‘man your personality is wrestling. You gotta quit doing strong man.’ He said ‘I want to be champion.’ The most money I ever made lifting was under $100 grand in a year. And I was the best in the world. I was like ‘you need to come over to wrestling.’ It took him two and a half years, but he finally called me back and said ‘hey man, you think you can still get me into wrestling?’ I said ‘hell yeah.’ I was like, I called Vince I said ‘hey, remember that monster I told you about? He’s ready.’”
Henry went on to explain that while he helped in recruitment he was never paid for his work, as he never held an official role in talent relations.
“I’ve just been doing that. I don’t work in talent relations, I don’t work in the whole recruiting process. I didn’t get paid for none of that, I did it because I wanted to. And I love Canyon Ceman. Canyon did a really good job. He took me to the Olympics with him, he took me to the World’s Strongest Man contest. We scouted at the Arnold Classic. All of these places we went to scout high level talent. I would support him, if he called me tomorrow and was like ‘hey man, I need a hook up.’ I know he works for WWE, but he’s my brother. I’m going to help him.”
The former World’s Strongest Man later gave his opinion on the release of Strowman. Henry admitted that he didn’t know the details of the situation, but that he wouldn’t have let Strowman go if the decision was up to him.
“I wouldn’t have let him go,” Henry said. “But you know what? If he wasn’t happy, and he asked them for more grace, more time or more money or something and they didn’t want to pay it, you’ve got to part ways. But I don’t know what the circumstances were with their relationship. With me I knew what that was. With him I don’t know.
“But if I were to speculate, there was an opportunity with him and Brock three years ago, and it never came. During the pandemic he had a little shine, but it wasn’t like if he was to be in that role now. And I don’t know if it was going his direction. Maybe he was the one that was disenchanted. I don’t know, I’d love to ask him.”
Henry also revealed that he was surprised at recent developments within the company. Adding that he expects morale among talent to be low.
“I’m kind of shocked of everything that’s happening,” Henry said. “When I look at the product, I think that some people might be disappointed. Talent wise, morale has got to be down. But it looks to me like WWE is breaking everything up and closing some doors to get everything to be kind of normal for a change. And usually when people break everything up like that and start moving and closing departments, it’s so they can sell it. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I don’t own it. It’s going to be something to look at. You see what happened with Peacock, and they (WWE) had a network, and then they went to Peacock. That someone else’s responsibility. They’re taking all of the expenditures out and making it more of a pretty package to buy and do whatever you want to with it.
“I think it’s good from the sense that you might see a talent go ‘wow we can use them in this TV show. Or we can use them in a movie or whatever.’ But it’s going to be who they want to do it, not because you have talent or a certain talent towards something. It’s more geared towards making it comfortable for what’s next, not what is. As far as all the people that are not wrestling people, leave the wrestling to the wrestling people. And the executives and those suits that came in, let them handle the business aspect of wrestling.”
The latest round of WWE releases sparked speculation that the company could soon be up for sale. However, a new report poured cold water on the rumours, with Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics, writing that those he had spoken too said WWE had no intention of selling.
H/t to Wrestling Inc for the transcription.