"You can’t be a champ and look like a bum"
The crazy touring schedule of a WWE superstar is something that we don't envy. Spending up to 300 days on the road, criss-crossing the globe for live shows, promotional spots and media commitments, with no 'off-season' is a gruelling task. Esquire Middle East took advantage of that schedule as 'The World's Strongest Man' Mark Henry flew into Dubai to promote the release of the video game WWE2k17, and the upcoming live shows in Saudi Arabia on November 3 and 4.
ESQ: Mark, you're a sharp-dressed kinda guy...
MH: Thanks, I love fashion. Actually, funny story, I used to give the Esquire Big Black Book to young wrestlers when they would join the WWE, because they needed to know how to dress. You can’t be a champion and look like a bum. You have to look, and be, the part. It's not just because it’s required of your job, but is important to how you hold yourself.
You should have a word with [WWE Superstar] Dean Ambrose…
I should. You know, CM Punk hated suits and would refuse to wear them, but that went with his character. Although, someone made a joke backstage that he looks like a plumber wearing a suit. I think Big E Langston is the same! [Laughs] He’s got those wide shoulders, a real big butt, he looks like one an accordions in a suit!
With all the next generation of developmental talent coming through, the age range is getting younger. Is there a more jovial ‘millennial’ atmosphere backstage these days?
It is to an extent, there’s the 'Up,Up,Down,Down' crew (Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston etc) they are hard workers but are also adamant about playing videogames. They play combat games, they play sports games like soccer. But one of things is that whenever a new WWE2k wrestling game comes out they are all over it. I’m not going to say that there's some gambling going on, but there is plenty of betting! Money doesn’t change hands but there are plenty of people doing 100 push-ups for losing.
Who do you play as?
I play as me or John Cena, because they always give him the jacked up stats. They make him stronger than me!
When you look at the stats that the Mark Henry character has, what’s your reaction?
Pissed off! They have my awareness at 77… it should be like 90! Sure, I’m not as quick as used to be, but my strength, I should be 99! No one else should have 99, not Brock Lesnar or John Cena. I’m the world’s strongest man!
In the ring, do you prefer being a good or bad guy?
I have no preference. Some people love me, others hate me. I never go to the ring with a pre-conceived idea of what I want people to think of me. If I hear people are booing, then I’ll play up to that. The same works if people are cheering.
Is there someone else’s 'gimmick' [wrestling storyline] that you wished that you’d had?
Not really. I walk to the beat of my own drum. I don’t look at others and wish what I had what they do.
You can play as NXT characters in the game. Are there any younger guys that you particularly want to work with?
Neville. I love his skill set. I want him to do better in the company. I also love working with Cesaro. I think he is under-utilized on the roster, but I don’t make the decisions! I remember when we wrestled in Qatar, he was even able to get me in the Big Swing. I didn’t think he was gonna be able to lift me, but he did.
A decade ago, when you were in the ‘Sexual Chocolate’ phase of your career, you were busting out some real nice suits. Do you still have them?
I do still have them. In fact one of those suits is in on display a library in Austin, Texas. It was the gold suit that I embarrassed my family by wearing!
Would you like the next generation to sharpen up their look backstage?
Definitely. I tell the young guys that all the time. Get yourselves some custom-made suits. If you buy of the rack, then you look off the rack.
What kind of styles for you wear?
I don’t like skinny legs. Some guys will buy Armani suits with the tight legs, I think that looks weird. I am very traditional.
What’s the secret to big guys when it comes to tailoring?
Get a suit that is multi-faceted. I prefer sports coats, so that you can have the versatility of wearing different pants.
Who is the best dressed guy in the locker room?
Now, it would have to be John Cena or Cesaro.
Big E Langston. He looks like a sausage-man with his tight sweatsuits and tennis shoes. I’m begging him to buy a suit!