Former World Heavyweight champion Mark Henry recently spoke to Newsday.com’s Alfonso Castillo. Here are some highlights;
Is he proud of The Rock’s reactions, being a guy who was there with him from the beginning:
Most definitely. You know, we go beyond wrestling. I was in Canada training with the Harts and he was playing football with the Calgary Stampede. And I was playing with one of the guys on his team, Jeff Garcia, who was a quarterback with the 49ers. He was their starting quarterback back then. So I met Dwayne, and he said, “You know, this is my last year playing football. I’m going to give it up and start wrestling.” And I was like, “That’s cool, man. I’m actually going to go back to the States and start training with Tom Prichard.” And he said, “Let me get your number,” and we exchanged numbers. So we knew each other before wrestling. And then he ended up coming to Connecticut and training with me and Dr. Tom Prichard. And we even ended up getting an apartment together. So we have a really, really long history together outside of wrestling as well as in wrestling. And I’m proud to be able to call him a brother. And his success is shared.
Why he thinks The Rock finds time to make returns:
It’s not the money. He wishes that Hollywood was wrestling. And he attacks Hollywood like a wrestler. You have to get over. You have to be able to succeed at all costs. And if you go out in a ball of flames, you need to go out in a dramatic fashion. And he’s done both. People talked about him never being a success in Hollywood, with the Disney movies and so forth and “Be Cool” and him playing gay, and all of that. They definitely didn’t give him a proper shake. And then, all of a sudden, people realized that it was not just where you start, it’s where you finish and the road that you travel to get there. And he did all of that to get experience — to be a success. And being a success would let him open doors for other guys, and he has. Look at the other guys that have come into Hollywood since. WWE Films came about because of his success. So him becoming special has made it special for everybody else.
Does he feel an obligation as a “statement” in the locker room, being a veteran:
Most definitely. You have to set an example for the future of the industry. I’m early to the arena. I’m late to leave. It’s business. I try my best to present myself with a level of respect in the locker room. I’ve never been a drinker or a smoker. I don’t cuss people out. I don’t show myself in a light where people will not respect me. I command respect. I make guys say, “Sir.” I say, “Sir,” even though they’re young guys. I want them to have a level of discipline that is expected more like by a father or your boss than as a contemporary or somebody that you work with. We’re businessmen. And you have to be able to come to work and put on a hard hat and work. If not, you’re bad for the people that come after you. So I set that example. I relish that role. I take it on full speed ahead, because I don’t want this business to suffer when I’m gone. And I will be gone soon. So these guys need to be able to uphold the standard that I was forced to do, and that I expect.
How much longer can he go and is his body feeling it:
Most definitely. Outside of Andre The Giant, there’s never been a big guy in wrestling who has lasted as long as I have. And I’m still working a full-time schedule. Later in his career, when he was my age, he didn’t work as many days as I work. I work 160-170 days a year, still. So I’m in the grind, hard. I doubt that there’s been a big guy that’s been able to pull the load like I’ve been able to pull the load. And I take a lot of pride in that. I’m made from different stuff. And the stuff I’m made out of, apparently, is pretty damn good stuff. I can knock off any time I want to. But I don’t think I’ve accomplished everything that I want to. And I still have to show the other people how to lead. Ernie Ladd told me when I first came here, “People are doing stuff for you. You’re going to have to do the same for them. Don’t mess it up for everybody after you.” I’m trying my best not to leave the business in peril. I want it to be better than it was when I got in. I want to show these guys how to be that guy on my way out.