Only a handful of WWE superstars can boast an in-ring career that stretches over two consecutive decades, and Mark Henry is firmly within that select group.
Nearly one year after his last match to date at WrestleMania 33, that career comes to a fitting conclusion with Henry joining the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2018. As first reported by USA Today, Henry joins Goldberg, the Dudley Boyz, Jeff Jarrett, Ivory, Hilbilly Jim, Kid Rock and Jarrius "JJ" Robertson in a group that will be recognized during WrestleMania weekend in New Orleans.
An olympian, strongman, and champion, @TheMarkHenry has made an indelible impression throughout his 20+ year career.
From the #HallofPain to the #WWEHOF...Congratulations, Mark! pic.twitter.com/yusB1oyYeo
- Triple H (@TripleH) March 19, 2018
Henry's WWE career began in 1996, but before he ever stepped into the ring Henry made a lot of headlines in powerlifting. He started setting records while still in high school, and ultimately became a two-time Olympian, a three-time Pan American medalist and three-time U.S. Senior National Weightlifting champion. Henry still maintains a number of records, including World Drug-Free Powerlifting Federation world records in the squat, deadlift and total weight that have stood since before he started wrestling.
The nickname "World's Strongest Man" has stuck with Henry throughout his career, and those credentials were bolstered when, in the midst of a stretch in WWE's developmental territory OVW in 2002, Henry won the Arnold Strongman Classic. Despite spending just a few months training for the competition after several years away from competitive lifting, Henry won the competition in convincing fashion.
Once he joined the WWE, Henry portrayed several drastically different characters. His pay-per-view debut in 1996 saw Henry defeat Jerry "The King" Lawler, but Henry eventually transitioned into a role as part of the Nation of Domination. Henry later adopted the nickname "Sexual Chocolate" and had several memorable, if controversial stories involving the likes of Chyna, Mae Young and others.
Henry faced off in high-profile rivalries with Batista, The Undertaker, Kurt Angle over the next few years, but it was an unlikely move to the WWE's ECW brand that finally allowed Henry to step into the spotlight as a world champion for the first time. It was only the second title he'd won in his time in the WWE, and while many who found their way to the WWE's third brand fizzled out or didn't do much in their time in ECW, Henry benefited quite a bit from his time holding the championship.
The brightest stage of Henry's career came after he was drafted to SmackDown in 2011, and in August of that year he defeated Randy Orton at Night of Champions to become World Heavyweight Champion. It was also during this time that Henry adopted the "Hall of Pain" as a catchphrase and identifier for opponents he was able to sideline or incapacitate.
One of Henry's most memorable moments in the WWE came in 2013, when he interrupted a John Cena speech to deliver what seemed to be a retirement announcement. Once he had finished speaking, however, Henry hit Cena with a World's Strongest Slam and proclaimed he still had "a lot left in the tank."
Henry has long been one of the WWE's most vocal and visible contributors in community and charitable efforts, including recent efforts involving recovery efforts in Texas and the WWE's annual Tribute to the Troops event.