Mark Henry On Leaving WWE For AEW – “It Felt Like A Divorce”
Mark Henry has shared what he felt when he ended his nearly 25-year run in WWE to join All Elite Wrestling earlier this year.
WWE Hall of Famer Mark Henry made his AEW debut at the Double or Nothing pay-per-view back in May. Henry was announced as being part of the commentary team of AEW’s new show Rampage, which debuted in August in a Friday night timeslot. Prior to his AEW debut, Henry worked for WWE starting in 1996 after signing a huge contract and went on to become a World Heavyweight Champion.
The 50-year-old Henry joined another longtime former WWE veteran Chris Jericho on his Talk Is Jericho podcast. Henry spoke about how he was as surprised as anybody when he decided to leave WWE because he thought he would be a WWE lifer:
“When I retired, I thought I was going to be an employee of WWE. At some point, I was gonna be somebody that had an influence on the business. I was like, I want to be an executive. I know enough about this business and every facet of it, and there were people that were in jobs and talent development, and people that were in jobs in talent relations and people in jobs in corporate, that I knew the business better than them. And I had a way of fostering relationships.”
“That’s been the number one thing that I’ve been able to accomplish in my life more than anything else is I foster good relationships with people, and people realize that I’m not a screw up, that I’m going to do stuff that’s going to be well thought out. And that is going to benefit kids because that’s where my heart is. I want kids to have experiences, and WWE, they were not at a place where they wanted to hire me for that. And I asked. I wrote it up. I spent months putting together a two-year plan of events.”
After he wrote the proposals, Henry shared that he was told no regarding his plans although he noted that he didn’t hear that from WWE’s Chairman/CEO Vince McMahon:
“I was like, what else can I do? I just had to call and say, ‘Hey man, I’m going to start looking for work because I know what I can do well, and I don’t feel like I’m valued in that capacity.’ And when I got the ‘no’, it didn’t come from Vince [McMahon]. It didn’t come from Brad Blum. It came from Johnny (John Laurinaitis), who was an employee. It’s not his place to tell me ‘no’. If the duties got delegated to somebody that it’s not their job to tell me, then it’s over. You got to know when the door’s being closed?”
The World’s Strongest Man explained that it’s painful to not see people he considers family:
“It felt like a divorce. It was painful. I love the people over there. Man, just the thought of not seeing people like [Tony] Chimel, and Sean Sellman and the production office, it hurt me. Them people like family to me and not to mention people in the office and the talent. They’re like our brothers, but if I can’t work there, I got two kids. They go to private school, costs a lot of money. I’m only 50. I can’t get my retirement and tax-sheltered annuity until I’m 53. I have to work until at least I’m 53 before I get my money.”
When talking about working for AEW, Henry added that he really enjoys talking to younger talent:
“I feel a lot of joy in talking to Darby Allin, and talking to [Powerhouse] Hobbs and mentoring him and Dante [Martin] and all these people that have come up to me.”
“They came to me and was like, ‘Man, just tell me what you see.’ That’s the beauty of this business. People who are already over, but everybody wants to be more over, and I’m gonna do everything I can while I’m here to get those people to be you. You’re gonna have some competition in the next two to three years, you watch.”