WWE's Mark Henry: 'Mae Young Giving Birth To A Hand Was One Of The Funniest Things In WWE History'
WWE veteran Mark Henry has been inducting opponents into his Hall of Pain for nearly two decades - and although the World’s Strongest Man has picked up World Heavyweight, European and ECW gold in his time, he still fondly recalls the Attitude Era as one of his favourite periods in sports entertainment.
The big man from Texas, who recently entered another thumping performance in the Elimination Chamber, spoke to MTV about that iconic WWE boom as a new hardback book is released celebrating the Attitude Era.
Henry, now 44, will always be associated with the bizarre skit where Mae Young - then 77 - gave birth to a HAND which Mark had apparently fathered. But what was his first reaction when presented with the off-the-wall storyline?
"When the situation came up, it was hilarious to me because all I could see was [backstage executive and on screen flunky] Gerald Brisco throwing up because he has a very weak stomach,” says Mark.
"It was just one of the funniest things in the history of WWE."
Moving from the ridiculous to the even more ridiculous, what kind of daft stories from those exhilarating times or his later career has the monstrous powerlifter seen go from being an urban myth to accepted fact?
It turns out Mark is often reported - looking also at you, Wikipedia - to be the owner of quite an unusual pet - a two foot ferret called Pipe.
"I’ve never even touched a ferret!” he laughs.
"Of all the animals in the world… me touching a ferret? That’s absolutely ridiculous!”
Although the tales - or should it be ‘tails’ in this case? - can often grow taller than Big Show in sports entertainment, the largest athlete in Olympic history when he competed in the 1996 Atlanta games modestly demurs on whether he could have legitimately taken out Attitude Era talisman Steve Austin, despite Stone Cold’s rep as the ‘toughest SOB in the world’.
He says: "It is easier to say than to do.
"I respect Stone Cold talent and I would never try to undercut someone else’s fame to put myself in a positive light.
"I’ve been in the ring with Stone Cold many times and I never felt outclassed. He was a dominant guy and I appreciate what he did for the industry."
Mark’s most memorable Attitude Era moments were perhaps those he spent with the Nation of Domination, a stable of stars in which he linked up with the likes of Farooq (also known as Ron Simmons), The Rock, D Lo Brown, Owen Hart and Kama Mustafa.
The group were as tight away from the cameras as they were in the ring - and Mark remembers with a smile how he cut his teeth in WWE with a club of hungry performers that also helped launch The Rock to superstardom.
Telling a story about the protocols of dining together on the road, Mark says: "We had the older guys in the Nation and the younger guys in the Nation.
"The older guys expected the younger guys at a restaurant to pay for the food this one time. So it [the bill] got passed along from D Lo to Rock, from The Rock to me.
"I told Ron [Simmons] I’d cancelled my credit card and didn’t have any cash.
"He told me to get the other guys to pay for it and pay them back!
"I said: 'Ron, I can’t tell a grown man to pay for my stuff.'
“But he replied: ‘You are the bigger grown man, you can tell him to do anything!’”
* WWE The Attitude Era is published by DK, priced at £17.99 (dk.com)