Last week, both Paige and Mark Henry (Who had already unofficially retired but it was only became more public knowledge on Friday. For the sake of this though, we’ll assume he’s officially retired.) left WWE under some very different circumstances. While one of these is a much bigger deal to the current WWE product, both of these departures deserve some attention of their own. Today we’re going to look at both of them and their respective legacies in WWE.
We’ll start with Henry, who somehow lasted over twenty years with the company in one of the most remarkable runs you’ll ever see. I say remarkable because Henry isn’t the most complete guy in the world. Really, he’s an exceptionally powerful guy who can also talk to a certain degree. Aside from the Sexual Chocolate phase, there isn’t much to Henry that doesn’t revolve around his power game in some way. It makes sense for Henry to stick with what works so well for him, but it kind of limits his character and storyline prospects.
He could however do things like this.
However, Henry managed to stick around and get into some pretty high profile matches, including main eventing “Royal Rumble 2006” in a World Title match, as well as beating Randy Orton to become the World Heavyweight Champion in 2011. That’s not bad for a career of someone whose only claim to fame is being really, really strong. So what worked so well for Henry?
Flash back with me ECW (the original, not the one where Henry won a title). Back in ECW, my favorite wrestler was Tajiri, whose offense was heavily centered around his string of kicks. It wasn’t the most varied offense, but you knew what you were getting and Tajiri made it look good. The same thing was true of Rhyno, who powered through people just like his name would suggest he would.
The idea here is very simple: what you see is what you get. Those two both still wrestle today (Tajiri is 47 and Rhyno is 42) and a lot of that is because they stuck to what worked so well for them. The same is true of Henry. Why would he try to do much of anything besides the power? It’s what he’s best at and it kept working for him. There’s always going to be a place in wrestling for someone with that kind of size and that kind of power, which is a big reason why Henry was around for so long.
The other big thing that Henry had going for him was a surprising amount of charisma. It didn’t get to come out very often but on occasions with Chyna or Mae Young, Henry showed that he could actually act well (for a wrestler of course) and be funny at the same time. That’s something you might not expect from him and it made for some rather entertaining moments (and some disturbing ones like the time he and Young celebrated Valentine’s Day).
The top of it all though was the night where Henry convinced a lot of people (myself included) that he was retiring to spend more time with his family. John Cena was in the ring at the same time though and Henry eventually turned on him, setting up a WWE World Title match at the upcoming “Money in the Bank 2013”. Henry went on to lose the match but the promo to set it up was one of the best things Henry ever did.
This was greatness.
I don’t know if Henry is going to wrestle again (though there’s a very strong chance that he will) but I’d love to see him get at least one more match and show off the power that he has. His last match was the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at “Wrestlemania XXXIII” and I’d hope he gets something a little more prominent to go out on.
With Henry out of the way, we move on to the much sadder issue of Paige, who has seemingly been forced into retirement with a neck injury. What makes this even worse is Paige just returned from another neck injury after a seventeen month layoff, leading to only a handful of matches before her second injury.
What amazes me the most about Paige is that she’s only 25 years old. She signed her developmental contract at 19 and debuted on NXT when she was about 20. Somehow in there, she became a veteran of sorts, turning into one of the most accomplished NXT callups to date. Considering that she lost nearly a year and a half due to injuries, that’s one heck of an accomplishment.
When Paige returned, she was the head of a group called Absolution, consisting of Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville. The two of them had pledged their devotion to Paige based on everything she had done for the Women’s Revolution. The thing is, despite being 25 years old, Paige is still actually a trailblazer. When she started down in NXT, the women’s division was literally starting with her as she was the first NXT Women’s Champion.
Think about that for a second. All of this, with everything that came together to make such an amazing women’s division, was at least partially started by Paige, who was in her early 20s at the time. While there were some other women who could have taken her spot, she was the one who got to do all this, including debuting on the “Monday Night Raw” after “Wrestlemania XXX” to defeat AJ Lee and end her then record long title reign. Paige got a huge reaction that night because she was already a huge star, showing people that you could come up from NXT and instantly get a big reaction.
Here’s how it all started.
Paige brought some legitimacy to the division which couldn’t have come at a better time. There wasn’t a lot going on with the division or its title so having some fresh blood, especially someone who had some credentials coming out of NXT, was a great sign. Paige helped things out a lot and that’s what the division was needing. She and AJ Lee had one of the best rivalries in a very long time and helped bridge the gap between the terrible era of the division into the Women’s Revolution. That’s quite the spot to take.
I wasn’t exactly sure that Paige would ever come back to WWE but it was cool to see her get back in the ring. There were some rather intriguing matchups for her as she missed so much of the Women’s Revolution names, meaning she could have had some very fresh matches with the new division. I was hoping to see a lot of those, but at the moment, it seems that we’re not going to be able to see them. At least we got a little taste, which is certainly better than getting nothing at all.
And how the new team debuted.
These are two very different kinds of retirements and it’s a shame that both of them have to go. Henry had quite a run over a long time and Paige had quite the run in a much shorter span of time, but they both made their impacts in the WWE. There’s a chance they’ll both wrestle again but if they don’t, they both certainly gave us their share of memorable times.
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