Mark Henry became the third WWE legend to jump to AEW in the space of as many months this weekend. At Sunday evening's Double or Nothing pay-per-view, AEW introduced Henry to the crowd as its latest signing.
The 49-year-old will serve as a coach for Tony Khan's promotion and will also handle analyst duties for AEW's new prime-time television show Rampage, when that programme debuts in mid-August.
Henry's analyst role appears similar to that which Paul Wight (formerly known as The Big Show in WWE) currently performs on AEW Dark: Elevation each week.
Wight himself joined AEW in late February this year, ending an association with WWE that had lasted for almost two decades across a couple of stints. One of Wight's first acts in his new home was to introduce ex-WWE World Heavyweight Champion Christian as an official AEW employee at March's Revolution pay-per-view - under the ring name Christian Cage.
The Big Show, Christian and now Mark Henry have all made the decision to leave WWE in 2021. Given that WWE seemed unlikely to do much with any of the trio, their moves are not altogether surprising.
What is curious, though, is that each man was attacked - either physically or verbally - by Randy Orton in the build-up to their departure.
A tweet from Fightful Wrestling shortly after AEW's reveal of Henry at Double or Nothing included pictures of Orton face-to-face with Big Show, Christian and Henry in the moments before 'The Viper' took aim at them. The caption of the post reads: "Randy Orton did it again. Lmaooo," together with the hashtag for AEW Double or Nothing.
The point is a strong one. Orton punted Christian in the head following an unsanctioned match on RAW last June, before doing the same to The Big Show a month later. Neither had another singles bout in WWE again.
The Big Show, however, was part of RAW Legends Night in January of this year, together with Mark Henry. On that programme, Orton belittled both Big Show and Henry verbally, letting them both know in no uncertain terms that their time in the spotlight was done. Orton even chased Henry - who was using a scooter after an injury - out of the arena in a segment designed to humiliate Henry.
As it turns out, Orton not only chased Henry out of the ThunderDome, but also out of WWE entirely. Henry never made another appearance for the company.
AEW has not given any indication that it intends to use Henry as an in-ring performer. With that said, the Texas-native recently revealed that he has lost over 80 pounds with the intention of wrestling at least one more match. It now seems that AEW is the most likely location for his comeback match.
Randy Orton, of course, is not on the AEW payroll. However, over the last few months, he may unwittingly have been playing the role of the wrestling world's most violent recruitment consultant!News Now - Sport News