AEW announcer and WWE Hall Of Famer Mark Henry has discussed the origins of his “Hall Of Pain” character and how it all started with a rib played by Vince McMahon.
In the early 2010s, the World’s Strongest Man was taking no prisoners in WWE as he took great delight in inducting them into his own Hall Of Pain.
Speaking to his AEW colleague Chris Jericho on his Talk Is Jericho podcast, the AEW Rampage analyst explained how the shift in character all came about. First, he recalled a conversation with WWE legend Pat Patterson who told Henry to embrace the rage:
“I was talking to Pat Patterson one day, and Pat was like, ‘Man, I really would like to see you be just more aggressive. We love you, Mark. Your a big, lovable guy, but damn it, if you could just kill people, it will make it so good for you.’”
“And then, probably about a week later, Vince played a joke on me. I went out to the ring, and they played my music and I was supposed to be wrestling Sin Cara. This is a dark match after the show in Des Moines, IA. I’ll never forget it. I’m standing out there and his music is playing. They play it three times, and now I’m angry at Sin Cara. I’m like, I’m gonna beat his ass when he gets out here. They played his music three times. Where the hell is he? And then they played Vader’s music. I’m like, ‘What the f*ck?’ Wait a minute, and I look at Scott Armstrong. I said, ‘What’s going on?’ He’s like, ‘Mark, I don’t have nothing to do with this.’ I get the microphone. I didn’t realize what I was doing until after I did it.”
“I said, ‘Give me a microphone.’ I cut a promo. ‘I don’t know what’s going on, but somebody better bring their ass out here to this ring because if I have to come back there and get somebody, it is not gonna be pretty.’ I throw the microphone down. Then they play Rey Mysterio’s music. I get the microphone again. I said, ‘Look, this ain’t funny,’ and Scott gets out of the ring because he sees now I can’t talk. I throw the microphone down and I start power walking up the ramp.”
With Mark Henry riled, the sensible option would be to get out of dodge and that’s exactly what Vince McMahon and company did that night:
“I get up there, and it’s a ghost town. Everybody’s gone, and I just destroyed the Gorilla position, just mad. They said, ‘Vince and everyone left,’ and I said, ‘What?’ They left. And I just quit. I kicked the door in. Ryan Ward, bless his heart, was the only one in the writer’s room. He’s like, ‘Mark, I don’t have nothing to do with it, man. They left. They went,’ and I ran down the hallway to the carport. And I could see the limos pulling out of the area, and I call Vince. ‘Motherf*ck him’ and told him I quit, don’t call me. I’m done, yada, yada, yada.”
Mark Henry revealed that McMahon then tried to get in touch with him but that he refused to take his calls. That was until the company contacted Henry’s wife:
“The next week, Vince calls me. I’m not answering his calls,” Henry said. “I don’t know how they got my wife’s phone number. I guess from an emergency contact list. They called her, and she was like, ‘Will you answer them and talk to them because they called me?’ I called. It wasn’t Vince I talked to. I can’t remember who it was now. I was so angry about it.”
“I just shut it all out, but he was like, ‘Look man, just come to the show. We’re not expecting you to work anything. We just want you to come and clear this up. If you’re done, you’re done, but leave on a good note.’ It might have been Jim Ross. I don’t know. I go, and Vince is crying. He’s apologetic. He’s serious. He’s like, ‘Man, I didn’t know this was gonna hurt your feelings. I just thought it was a rib and yada yada. We just sat here. We’ve done thousands of ribs,’ but it was in the ring. I never had nobody joke on me in the ring, in front of the fans. I felt stupid, and he apologized.”
After the apology, Vince McMahon played the footage of an enraged Mark Henry in the ring, leading to the most profitable period of the former World Heavyweight Champion’s career:
“He was a man about it, and he was like, ‘Man, I love you. I’m not trying to hurt you. I was just playing and stuff, but can I show you something?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, sh*t, what now? And then, ‘Kevin, play the footage of Mark in the ring,’ and it looked like that video, that famous video, that they show of Sasquatch. I look like a monster. It didn’t look nothing like me.”
“I was embarrassed for being that out of control, and he was like, ‘If you can do that, we’ll do really well. That’s what wrestling needs, a real, real monster.’ And I was like, ‘Man, I can’t be like that in the ring with one of the boys. I’ll hurt somebody.’ He said, ‘No, you won’t. You know how to work. You just gotta think and be really thoughtful about it. I’m not asking you to go out there and plan a bunch of stuff. Just go out there and be that and don’t kill nobody.’ And that’s what we did. We ended up with the most profitable point in my career.”