It's been a long 10 months away from the SmackDown for its self-proclaimed King of the Jungle. After tearing his patella last summer, Mark Henry endured a hibernation period of recovery that involved much brooding and cold focus. Now, nearly one year later, months of inertia will yield an inescapable wrath upon Batista, Finlay and Kane at the hands of the World's Strongest Man.
Tonight, these men meet in a Fatal Four Way Match to name the No. 1 contender to the World Heavyweight Championship and determine Edge's opponent at One Night Stand. And if Henry has anything to say about it, the key word in the equation tonight will be "fatal" for his opponents, but also the Rated-R Superstar at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view.
"What I'm going to do is exactly what silverbacks do in their territory," Henry described in a menacingly concentrated tone. "In any jungle, there is always just one primate that sits back in the weeds and no one dares step in his territory because he will kill you — and that would be kindly. I'm going to prove that SmackDown is my territory, starting with the World Heavyweight Championship."
This Friday, SmackDown's Silverback emerges from the brush to unleash 11 years of frustration onto three of the brand's finest competitors. His message is certainly a foreboding, especially coming from an individual who has crushed countless Superstars with his bare hands.
"All these Superstars come out to the ring and they show the world their prowess," uttered a hostile Henry. "I am the Silverback to every single one of them. I'm the boss. I'm the don. I'm the beast. There's nobody in this business that is a rival to me."
From Funaki to Matt Hardy to Rey Mysterio, no one has been safe from the reckless savagery characteristic to Mark Henry's ring presence. Just two weeks ago, Henry made a sudden, yet impactful return to WWE, essentially obliterating The Phenom and playing an integral role in Edge's championship thievery. The legendary Undertaker has yet to be seen since the merciless mauling by the World's Strongest Man.
Most notably, the Silverback put another Animal, Batista, out of commission with a triceps injury that forced the former World Heavyweight Champion to relinquish his gold and go into a recovery period away from the ring. This injury would define the most frustrating 7-month period in The Animal's career. Ironically, it was at Saturday Night's Main Event last July that the King of the Jungle suffered a patella injury in a match with Batista that would keep Henry out of action for 10 months.
This week on SmackDown will be the Silverback's first in-ring meeting with Batista since his patella tear. One can only imagine the bellicose feelings brewing in the belly of the World's Strongest Man heading into the Fatal Four Way. Could he once again be striving to put his adversary out of action, perhaps for good?
Mark Henry has the opportunity he's sought his entire career on Friday night. Back in action for only two short weeks, he could earn a chance to face Edge for the World Heavyweight Title at One Night Stand — all he has to do is out-maul the Big Red Monster, the fighting Irishman and, of course, The Animal. Given his goal, what damage will the unleashed Silverback levy onto his three opponents?
"Tonight, you will understand exactly how savage the Silverback can be," added the 400-pound behemoth. "The only reason people breathe is because I let them…and, if I decide to take that air, it's mine."