REVIEW: WWE SUPERSTARS MARK HENRY
I've been a longtime fan of the WWE, but until fairly recently, I'd never much collected any of the action figures. Ultimately, I simply had other action figure priorities, and I suppose I thought that if I could see these individuals several times a week on television, there wasn't any great reason to have their plastic counterparts in my living room.
This was probably a rather ridiculous argument, since in comparison, I have plenty of super-hero action figures, and yet I still read comic books. I have plenty of action figures from Star Trek and Star Wars, and yet I still watch their shows and movies on video.
What finally persuaded me to have a closer look at the WWE line currently produced by Mattel? I think it comes down to, at the time, a lack of anything else exceptionally interesting in the toy departments. The Hobbit had come and largely gone, as had Avengers. Masters of the Universe and DC Universe were once-a-month offerings through MattyCollector. G.I. Joe Retaliation had put in a brief appearance and then had been put on hiatus until the movie's actual release following a months-long delay. You get the idea.
There are a number of different WWE lines offered by Mattel. Several of them have various action features, which I really wasn't that interested in. There is the "Elite" collection, which, while certainly producing impressive figures, was just a little pricey to me. And there is a "Legends" collection, featuring iconic WWE stars of years past. Again, impressive, but a little out of my price range.
I finally checked out the "Superstars" line. This is an extensive line of WWE figures, based on currently-active wrestlers. The packaging is straightforward, a mostly white card with red trim and a photograph of the individual, with the figure packed on a plastic "blister". And the price is most agreeable.
And so, I've been bringing a number of these figures into my collection. One of my additions is a longtime participant in the WWE, a weightlifting medal winner and world record holder, by the name of MARK HENRY.
Let's consider the man's past accomplishments, in the ring and elsewhere, and then have a look at his action figure.
Mark Jerrold Henry (born June 12, 1971) is an American powerlifter, Olympic weightlifter, strongman, and professional wrestler. He was two times an Olympian in 1992 and 1996 and a Silver, Gold and Bronze Medalist at the Pan American Games in 1995. Currently, he still holds the WDFPF world records in the squat, deadlift and total and the USAPL American record in the deadlift since 1995. He is credited for the biggest raw squat and raw powerlifting total ever performed, regardless of weight class, as well as the greatest raw deadlift by an American citizen.
In weightlifting, Henry was a three time U.S. National Weightlifting Champion (1993,1994,1996), an American Open winner (1992), a two time U.S. Olympic Festival Champion (1993 and 1994) and a NACAC champion (1996). He holds all three Senior US American weightlifting records of 1993-1997. In 2002 he won the first annual Arnold Strongman Classic.
Since joining the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) in 1996, he has become a one-time WWF European Champion and a two-time world champion, having held the ECW Championship in 2008, and the World Heavyweight Championship in 2011.
Before becoming a professional wrestler, Henry was a successful powerlifter as well as weightlifter. He began powerlifting at Silsbee High School, where he became Texas State Champion three times in a row from 1988 to 1990, as well as National High School Champion in 1990, setting teen-age world records in the squat and total. Beginning his weightlifting training in 1990, Mark moved to Austin and won the National Junior Weightlifting Championships in 1991. In 1991 he captured the Junior International title in powerlifting as well.
At only 19 years of age, Mark qualified for the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, where he placed 10th in the super heavyweight class. More determined than ever to focus on Olympic weightlifting, he began competing in earnest all over the world. He won the U.S. American Open in 1992 and the U.S. Olympic Festival Championships in 1993 and 1994. At the 1995 Pan American Games, Henry won 3 medals in the super heavyweight division. The following year, he became a North America, Central America, Caribbean Islands (NACAC) champion.
At the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia Henry was voted team captain of the weightlifting team and made his last public appearance as an Olympic weightlifter after sustaining a back injury during the competition. Prior to the Olympics 1996, at the young age of 24, Henry was generally considered as the strongest man in the world by most lifting experts for not only holding major all-time powerlifting world records but also the greatest five-lift-total ever achieved in the history of the lifting sports.
In early 1996, at the age of 24, Henry signed a ten-year contract with the WWF. Henry was trained by former Canadian professional wrestlers Stu and Bret Hart and Leo Burke. He made his television wrestling debut in September 1996. In January 1998, Mark Henry joined the stable Nation of Domination. After the disbanding of the group, he acquired the moniker "Sexual Chocolate", which led him to participate in controversial angles.
Mark has always been exceptionally big and strong. By the time he was in the fourth grade, he was 5'5" and weighed 225 pounds. So his mother bought a set of weights when Mark was 10. During Mark's freshman year at Silsbee High school, he was already able to squat 600 lb for repetitions, which was well over school record. As an 18-year-old high school senior, Mark was called "the world's strongest teen-ager" by the Los Angeles Times, as he made it into the sidelines in early 1990 for winning the National High School Powerlifting Championships and setting teen-age lifting world records in the squat 832 lb and total 2,033 lb. By the time Mark finished high school he was a three-time Texas state champion with state and national records in all four powerlifting categories.
At the Texas high school powerlifting championships in April 1990, Terry Todd, a professor of kinesiology at the University of Texas at Austin and former weightlifter, spotted Henry and persuaded him to go to Austin after he graduated to train in the Olympic style of weightlifting. In July 1990 at the USPF Senior National Powerlifting Championships, the 19 years young Mark came second only to the legendary 6 time World Powerlifting Champion Kirk Karwoski. While powerlifting relies primarily on brute strength and power, which Mark obviously possessed, Olympic weightlifting is considered more sophisticated, involving more agility, timing, flexibility and technique. There have been few lifters in history, who have been able to be succssful in both lifting disciplines. Mastering the technique of weightlifting usually takes many years of practicing. But Henry broke four national junior records in weightlifting after only eight months of training.
At the age of 19, Henry had already managed to qualify for the weightlifting competition at the 1992 Summer Olympics, where he finished tenth in the super heavyweight class. In late 1992 he took the win at the USA Weightlifting American Open and further proved his dominance on the American soil by winning not only the U.S. National Weightlifting Championships, but also the U.S. Olympic Festival Championships in 1993 and 1994. At the 1995 Pan American Games Henry won a gold, silver and bronze medal.
Having reached the pinnacle of weightlifting on a National and continental level, he competed again in powerlifting and shocked the world by winning the ADFPA U.S. National Powerlifting Championships in 1995 with an earthshattering 2314.8 lb raw Powerlifting Total, outclassing the lifter in second place by incredible 286 lbs. In the process he set all-time world records in the raw deadlift at 903.9 lbs and the squat without a squat suit at 948.0 lbs. Later that same year in October, he competed in the drug-free Powerlifting World Championships and won again, even though he trained on the powerlifts only sparingly. Astoundingly, he did not only become World Champion by winning the competition but he also bettered his previous all-time raw squat world record to 953.5 lbs, proving without a doubt to be the best powerlifter in the world in 1995 without even focusing on it. Both of these records still stand today as the best unequipped drug-free lifts of all time, regardless of weight class.
One year later, with the '96 Olympics already in sight, he became the North America, Central America, Caribbean Islands (NACAC) champion. He earned the right to compete at the Olympics by winning the U.S. National Weightlifting Championships in the Spring of 1996 for a third time. During his victory Henry became Senior US American record holder (1993–1997), improving all of his three previous personal bests. By now, at the young age of 24, Mark Henry was generally considered as the strongest man in the world by most lifting experts - even by many of the Eastern Block athletes who outrank him in weightlifting. No one in the history of the sports had ever lifted as much as him in the five competitive lifts. To this day, his five lift total is still the greatest in history by a fair amount - making him arguably one of the strongest men that ever lived.
In the months prior to the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Mark received more attention and publicity than any lifter in recent US history. During this period he connected with WWE owner Vince McMahon for the first time, which led to him signing a 10-year deal as professional wrestler.
Although Henry even managed to improve his lifts to 407 lb in the snatch and 507 lb in the clean and jerk during his final eight weeks of preparation, luck wouldn't be on his side at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. Henry, the generally acknowledged "strongest man in the world" at 6-foot-4-inches tall and 414 lbs bodyweight, became the largest athlete in Olympic history and was voted captain of the Olympic weightlifting team. Unfortunately, he suffered a back injury during the competition and was unable to approach his normal performance level. His appearance at the Olympics proved to be his last official competition in Olympic weightlifting, as he retired from weightlifting, vowing never to return unless the sport is "cleaned up" of anabolic steroid use.
Henry made his first appearance on WWE programming on the March 11, 1996 episode of Monday Night Raw, where he press slammed Jerry Lawler, who was ridiculing Henry while interviewing him in the ring. On the November 17 episode of Superstars, Henry defeated Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Crush and Goldust in a tug of war contest. Henry's career was then stalled as, over the next year, he took time off to heal injuries and engage in further training. In November 1997, he returned to the ring, making his televised return the following month. By the end of the year, he was a regular fixture on WWE programming.
Henry joined the faction known as the "Nation of Domination" with Farooq, The Rock, Kama Mustafa and D'Lo Brown on January 12, 1998. During a match at the August 1999 pay-per-view, SummerSlam, between Brown and Jeff Jarrett for the WWF Intercontinental and WWF European Championships (both held at the time by Brown), Henry turned on Brown and helped Jarrett win the match and the titles. The next night, Henry was awarded the European title by Jarrett in return for his help. Henry dropped the title one month later to Brown at the Unforgiven pay-per-view.
After this, Henry turned into a fan favorite. In 2000, Henry was sent to Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) to improve his conditioning and wrestling skills. In OVW, he teamed with Nick Dinsmore to compete in a tournament for the OVW Southern Tag Team Championship in mid-2001. Later that year, Henry's mother passed away, causing him to go on hiatus from wrestling.
He felt he had to compete in the "Super Bowl of weight lifting" - the Arnold Strongman Classic - in honor of his mother, who gave him his first weight set when he was a child. Four months prior to the contest, Henry began lifting the heaviest of weights and trained for the first time since 1997 for a major lifting competition. Then on 22, February 2002 in Columbus, Ohio the competition, consisting of four events, designed to determine the lifter with the greatest overall body power, began. Henry surprised everybody when he won the first event, setting a world record in the process by lifting the Apollon's Axle three times overhead. Only three man in history had ever been able to press it at all. By deadlifting 885 lbs for 2 reps in the second event and easily pushing a 5.000+lbs Hummer with nearly flat tires in the third event, Henry kept his lead continuously throughout the competition and never gave it up again. In the final "Farmer's Walk"-event Henry quickly carried the roughly 850 lbs of railroad ties up an incline, winning the whole competition convincingly to capture the winning prize - a $75,0000 Hummer, a vacation cruise and $10,000 cash. Since Mark had only trained for four months and defeated the crème-de-là-crème of worldwide strongman, who had been practicing for years, his win was a shock for strongman experts worldwide, and Henry proved to be worthy of the title "World's Strongest Man"
Henry returned to the WWE the next month and was sent to the SmackDown! brand, where he developed an in-ring persona of performing "tests of strength" while other wrestlers took bets on the tests. During this time he competed against such superstars as Chris Jericho and Christian. After being used sporadically on WWE television during 2002, as he was training for a weightlifting contest, and suffering a knee injury, Henry was sent back to OVW for more training.
In August 2003, Henry returned to WWE television on the Raw roster, where he found some success. At a practice session in OVW in February 2004, Henry tore his quadriceps muscle, and was out for over a year after undergoing surgery. Henry was then utilized by WWE as a public relations figure during his recovery, before returning to OVW to finish out 2005.
During the December 30 episode of SmackDown!, Henry made his return to television, as he interfered in a WWE Tag Team Championship match, joining with MNM (Joey Mercury, Johnny Nitro, and Melina), to help them defeat Rey Mysterio and Batista for the championship. A week later on SmackDown!, Henry got in a confrontation with the World Heavyweight Champion, Batista, and went on to interfere in a steel cage match between MNM and the team of Mysterio and Batista, helping MNM to retain their titles. Henry then had another match with Batista at a live event where Batista received a severely torn triceps that required surgery, forcing him to vacate his title.
On the March 10 episode of SmackDown!, after putting Kurt Angle through a table with a diving splash, Henry was then challenged to a casket match by The Undertaker at WrestleMania 22.
During the rest of April and May, Henry gained a pinfall victory over the World Heavyweight Champion, Rey Mysterio in a non-title match. Henry would also enter the King of the Ring tournament, in which he was defeated by Bobby Lashley in the first round. He later cost Kurt Angle his World Heavyweight Championship opportunity against Mysterio, when he jumped off the top rope and crushed Angle through a table. Henry was then challenged by Angle to face off at Judgment Day.
Henry later went on what was referred to as a "path of destruction", causing injuries to numerous superstars. Henry "took out" Chris Benoit and Paul Burchill on this path of destruction, and attacked Rey Mysterio and Chavo Guerrero. These events led up to a feud with the returning Batista, whom Henry had put out of action with a legitimate injury several months beforehand.
When Batista returned he and Henry were scheduled to face one another at The Great American Bash in July. Weeks before that event, however, on the July 15, 2006 episode of Saturday Night's Main Event, Henry was involved in a six-man tag team match. During the match, Henry was injured, canceling the scheduled match at the Bash, as Henry needed surgery. Doctors later found that Henry completely tore his patella tendon off the bone and split his patella completely in two.
Henry returned on the May 11, 2007 episode of SmackDown. He attacked The Undertaker after a World Heavyweight Championship steel cage match with Batista, allowing Edge to take advantage of the situation and use his Money in the Bank contract. Henry then began a short feud with Kane, defeating him in a Lumberjack Match at One Night Stand. Shortly after, Henry made an open challenge to the SmackDown! locker room, which nobody ever accepted.
Henry finally faced The Undertaker again at Unforgiven in September, losing to him after being given a Last Ride. Two weeks later, Henry lost a rematch to The Undertaker after The Undertaker performed a chokeslam on Henry.
After a short hiatus, Henry returned to WWE programming on the October 23 episode of ECW, attacking Kane. Henry then began teaming with Big Daddy V against Kane and CM Punk, and was briefly managed by Big Daddy V's manager, Matt Striker. At Armageddon, Henry and Big Daddy V defeated Kane and Punk.
As part of the 2008 WWE Supplemental Draft, Henry was drafted to the ECW brand. At Night of Champions, Henry defeated Kane and Big Show in a Triple Threat match to capture the ECW Championship in his debut match as an ECW superstar. Henry's title win came nearly a full decade after he was awarded the European Championship, which was back in 1999 and the only title he held in WWE. Henry would lose the title at Unforgiven in the Championship Scramble match to Matt Hardy. Henry attempted to regain the championship throughout the end of 2008, including a match against Hardy at No Mercy, but was unsuccessful.
On June 29, Henry was traded to the Raw brand and redebuted for the brand that night as the third opponent in a three-on-one gauntlet match against Randy Orton, which he won, turning Henry into a face in the process.
In August 2009, Henry formed a tag team with Montel Vontavious Porter and the two challenged the Unified WWE Tag Team Champions Jeri-Show (Chris Jericho and The Big Show) for the title at Breaking Point, but were unsuccessful. On the February 15, 2010 episode of Raw in which they defeated the Unified WWE Tag Team Champions The Big Show and The Miz in a non-title match.
In 2011, on the April 25 episode of Raw, Henry was drafted back to the SmackDown brand as part of the 2011 WWE Draft. In the main event of the night, Henry sparked a heel turn for his character when he attacked his teammates, John Cena and Christian. On the May 27 episode of SmackDown, Henry participated in a Triple Threat match against Sheamus and Christian to decide the number one contender to the World Heavyweight Championship, which was won by Sheamus.
On the June 17 episode of SmackDown, Henry was scheduled to face an angry and emotionally unstable Big Show, who warned Henry not to get into the ring; Henry ignored the warning and Big Show assaulted Henry before the match could begin. This act would ignite a feud between the two.
On the July 29 episode of SmackDown, Theodore Long informed Henry that he could no longer compete as no one dared to fight him. Sheamus interrupted, saying that he wasn't afraid of Henry before slapping him. On the August 5 episode of SmackDown, Henry defeated Vladimir Kozlov and crushed Kozlov's leg in a chair after the match, furthering his heel persona with this tactic which he called the "House of Pain".
On the February 3, 2012 episode of SmackDown, Henry was suspended indefinitely (in storyline) by SmackDown General Manager Theodore Long after Henry physically accosted Long as he demanded a one-on-one rematch that night with Bryan. In reality, Henry suffered a hyper-extended knee the previous week. Henry returned to in-ring action on the February 20 episode of Raw, in a loss to Sheamus.
On May 14, 2012, Henry announced he was going under a career-threatening surgery for an injury. After a nine-month absence, Henry made his return on the February 4, 2013 episode of Raw, brutally attacking Daniel Bryan, Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara. He then beat Randy Orton on SmackDown to earn his way into the Elimination Chamber match at Elimination Chamber.
At Elimination Chamber, He was able to eliminate Kane and Daniel Bryan until he was pinned by Randy Orton. After he was eliminated, he went berserk and officials had to order him to leave the cell. Since his return to action, Henry has yet to lose in one on one matches.
And believe me when I say that that is a very abbreviated look at Mark Henry's overall career.
So, how's the figure? Well -- big. Mark Henry, in real life, is 6'4", and weighs on the high side of 400 pounds. Mark Henry's action figure is just the tiniest fraction under 7" in height, and is one big and bulky assemblage of plastic.
What initially surprised me was that the figure was not really of above-average height. For the most part, the WWE figures are very well scaled. That is, despite being in the 6"-7" scale range, they're not all the same height by any means. You have somewhat smaller individuals, such as Rey Mysterio, who's barely 6-3/8" in height, and then you have the really big Superstars, like The Big Show, who's nearly 8" tall and barely fits in his package.
Now, 6'4" isn't exactly short. But I think it would be fair to say that you're going to find a lot more people in that height range among the Superstars of the WWE than you're going to find in a crowd of more average, typical people. So the figure of Mark Henry, while certainly of above-average size, isn't really of above average height.
Mark Henry is not fat. You don't accomplish what he has throughout his athletic career if you're fat. What Mark Henry is can probably best be described as very large-bodied. He is broad, and stocky. But it's all muscle.
I suppose some of us get an idealized impression of what a muscular human body should look like, and it's probably derived from any number of super-hero illustrations. Mark Henry's body is a good bit thicker than this, and this is certainly reflected by the action figure. But if Mark Henry's physical structure is a bit atypical -- so what? The man's got the strength and the various records and medals to back it up. And it certainly makes him an imposing presence in the ring.
And it makes the figure very distinctive, as well. One of the things that has impressed me about the WWE Superstars line is all of the different body types. This isn't Masters of the Universe or DC Universe where, for the most part, one good, muscular body can be designed and then used for a majority of the characters. Although the WWE Superstars all have to stay in decent physical shape to do what they do for a living, they don't all have the same body type, and neither do their action figures.
I've observed a certain amount of common part usage here and there, but it's nowhere near the level of some other action figure lines, and Mattel is to be applauded for that. And when you have a more, shall we say, extreme case such as Mark Henry -- he's not sharing parts with anybody.
One of my criteria for adding a given WWE Superstar to my collection -- since it would be nearly impossible to be a completist with this line, especially since I've entered it a couple of years into its run -- along with how much I'm inclined to add a particular WWE character to my collection in the first place, is how much the figure actually looks like the individual. This is generally an easy comparison to make, in light of the photograph on the package.
For the most part, Mattel has done a good job with the likenesses. There have been a few where it's been a struggle to find a really good likeness. There's a few where I have yet to see one, to be honest. But these are the very rare exceptions.
My other criteria is facial expression. I've seen a number of WWE figures that were generally good likenesses, but had some strange facial expression, which, while perhaps one utilized on occasion by the given individual, tends to look rather odd when plastered to his face permanently, even on an action figure. This really isn't of much interest to me.
Fortunately, Mark Henry passes on both counts. The headsculpt is an excellent likeness and doesn't have any quirky expression. Like everything else about Mark Henry, the figure has a rather broad face, with somewhat deepset eyes and a prominent brow. Mark Henry wears his hair in dreadlocks, which have been sculpted to great detail on the action figure, and he also has a full mustache and beard, also sculpted in substantial detail. His eyes have been very neatly painted, as have his teeth, which show in a slightly open mouth.
Mark Henry is wearing a black singlet that is bordered in white. Interestingly, when I bought the Mark Henry figure, I saw a second version that lacked the white border. I decided to get the one with the white border, since it outlined the outfit a bit better, as well as provided greater detail. So many of these WWE figures wear outfits that are mostly black that I was glad for a little bit of additional detail.
The sides of Mark Henry's singlet are imprinted with white vertical stripes and a graphic that looks like a figure lifting a large barbell -- certainly appropriate for Mark Henry. The back of the singlet has jagged block letters in a vertical order spelling out "W - S - M" -- for "World's Strongest Man".
Mark Henry's outfit is completed by thick black knee pads, made from flexible plastic which were molded separately and attached to the figure during assembly, and low black boots.
Quite a few WWE Superstars have tattoos, but Mark Henry does not appear to be one of these, at least not on the visible portions of his body. So the imprinted features are strictly his costume details, and they have been done most effectively.
Articulation of the figure is excellent. Mark Henry is fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, waist, legs, knees, boot tops, and ankles. The legs move forward and backward, but not outward. And there is no mid-torso articulation. But keep in mind, this is pretty much the basic WWE Superstars line. If you want more articulation, it can be found in the Elite Collection. But you'll be paying quite a bit more for it. For myself, as I've said, I'm content right here.
So, what's my final word? I'm sincerely glad I've decided to bring some of these WWE Superstars into my collection. These Superstars figures are as well sculpted and designed as their higher-priced "siblings", and I do feel that perhaps this is a collection that I should have really started a while back. I look forward to maintaining -- and reviewing -- it, as new Superstars that I am interested in are added to the lineup.
If you're any sort of WWE fan, and have been a fan of Mark Henry, then you'll certainly want to have a look at his WWE Superstars figure, and bring it into your collection. Mattel is really doing an outstanding job with these WWE Superstars!
The WWE SUPERSTARS figure of MARK HENRY definitely has my highest recommendation!