Olympics Weightlifting Slideshow

<p><i>Part 2 of <a href="https://www.si.com/column/Baker+Mayfield:+The+Scouting+Report" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:our draft season series on Baker Mayfield" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">our draft season series on Baker Mayfield</a>, the 2018 draft’s most fascinating prospect on and off the field</i></p><p>AUSTIN — At Lake Travis High School, on the gated outskirts of Texas’ capital city, there’s a tradition to honor senior football players. Parents cut plywood into silhouettes shaped like Cavaliers and paint the boys’ names and numbers onto the wood, to be displayed on a prominent fence on the sprawling campus. When Baker Mayfield was a senior, a handful of boys from rival Westlake High School, under cover of darkness, stole his Cav-man off the fence.</p><p>Whether they stole more than one cavalier or just Mayfield’s is not known—local history is hazy on this point. We know this: Mayfield and his friends weren’t going to let the aggression stand. Mayfield and teammate/best friend Zach Austin drove to the local Whataburger, which remains the most popular late-night hangout for Lake Travis students. They had a hunch the Westlake boys would be there, preening on enemy turf.</p><p>“Sometimes they would come there for a confrontation,” Austin says. “Sure enough, there were five Westlake kids in there, and they started talking trash to us and Baker was right there talking trash, and we kind of made them leave. They jumped in their car and waved the Cav-man at us as they sped off.”</p><p>A Mayfield-led team never lost to Westlake, with Lake Travis beating their rivals 35-7 in the 2011 regular season, and 14-11 in the 2012 playoffs, with Mayfield dragging an injury-plagued roster to victory. The episode foretold what would become Mayfield’s personal ethos: Embrace the insults and slights, and feed off of them.</p><p><a href="https://www.si.com/nfl/2018/01/26/baker-mayfield-draft-senior-bowl-oklahoma" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:• BAKER MAYFIELD KNEW WHY HE WAS AT THE SENIOR BOWL: And he didn’t have much patience for anything else." class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><strong>• BAKER MAYFIELD KNEW WHY HE WAS AT THE SENIOR BOWL: And he didn’t have much patience for anything else.</strong></a></p><p>It’s why you saw him taunt the Kansas sideline by grabbing his crotch after they refused to shake his hand, and why he planted the OU flag on the midfield logo at Ohio State, after getting into an argument with some over-served Buckeye fans. Though the one incident Mayfield’s supporters have the most trouble defending came last February; Fayetteville (Ark.) police arrested him after he tried to run away from officers questioning him about a 2 a.m. fight. Mayfield, who had been visiting friends with his girlfriend, said he was trying to break it up. Put it all under the NFL draft microscope, and you get <a href="http://www.cleveland.com/browns/index.ssf/2018/01/browns_john_dorsey_says_baker.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the analysis Cleveland.com procured from three anonymous NFL sources" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the analysis Cleveland.com procured from three anonymous NFL sources</a> last week.</p><p>“Baker has a pattern of disrespect,” a scout told Mary Kay Cabot. “Off-the-field, he’s Johnny Manziel.”</p><p>Said a coach: “He needs work. He’s going to be a challenge.”</p><p>Said a high-level NFL personnel executive, per Cabot: “He has not shown anywhere near enough emotional maturity to handle what’s coming his way. ... A lot of Manziel characteristics.”</p><p>It’s that comparison that irks people like Austin and others in the Lake Travis community who are close to Mayfield. For all the high-profile prospects in the 2018 draft, Mayfield’s destination is arguably the biggest unknown. One could see him being seriously considered by the Cleveland Browns with the No. 1 overall selection, or as far back as the end of the first round. Much will hinge on whether evaluators believe the comparison to Manziel—the former Heisman Trophy winner and first-round pick who flamed out of the NFL after two short seasons with the Browns—is justified, or bunk.</p><p>“I honestly don’t understand the comparison off the field,” Austin says. “From what I heard, Johnny had a lot of issues. Knowing Baker, I can tell you right now, it’s not a good comparison.”</p><p>Austin, who has been one of Mayfield&#39;s closest friends since middle school, says he often tried to convince Mayfield to enjoy the party scene at Lake Travis on the weekends, especially after football wins, but Mayfield would rather stay home and play <em>Halo 3</em> on Xbox.</p><p>“He never went out,” says Austin, who is now working toward a graduate degree in personal finance. “He wanted to stay away from that scene. I know that sounds unbelievable, and it may sound like I’m trying to hide something, but he never went out.</p><p>Says former Lake Travis assistant Ryan Priem: “He was a video game nerd. We never had to worry about any of them partying. It was really nice, because you didn’t have to worry about it. I’ve been in places where you dreaded Fridays.”</p><p>Mayfield floated the idea of abandoning football and becoming a professional Halo player, Austin says, while reeling from a disappointing start to the football season on the freshman team. Mayfield was set to be benched after two games, but the quarterback who was supposed to take his spot suffered a weightlifting injury. During that time, and throughout the rest of his career, coaches describe him as the consummate teammate.</p><p>“The Baker I know does not draw attention to himself off the field,” said Lake Travis assistant coach Jonathan Coats. “He doesn’t seek any kind of fame. He never had that gigantic personality that some people do. He never got in trouble with us, not for being late, never a grade problem. The dude was a leader and we counted on him.”</p><p><a href="https://www.si.com/mmqb/2016/03/15/johnny-manziel-nfl-cleveland-browns" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:• THE FALL OF JOHNNY MANZIEL: How it all went so wrong in Cleveland." class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><strong>• THE FALL OF JOHNNY MANZIEL: How it all went so wrong in Cleveland.</strong></a></p><p>In Mayfield’s third year, despite coaches acknowledging Mayfield possessed a better arm than the senior quarterback ahead of him, they gave senior Collin Lagasse the starting nod for combined running and passing ability. On the sixth play of the season, Lagasse suffered a shoulder injury on a scramble down the right sideline. With Mayfield under center, they went 16-0 and won the 4A title game over Midway in Waco.</p><p>“I think all of that absolutely made his perspective what it is,” his mother, Gina Mayfield says. “You don’t get to a high level and stay there without extremely hard work and always having to strive. So I think the things that happened to him early on, made him able to do what he needed to do to be successful.”</p><p>Then came Baker’s <i>a-ha</i> moment, Gina says, when a labor of love morphed into an inflexible and unflinching sense of self-confidence. At an Elite 11 qualifying camp in Dallas in 2011, Mayfield realized what he was capable of, through yet another slight.</p><p>“I sat in front of all these QB experts,” Mayfield says. “I threw in front of some of these guys in high school, and I could throw then just like I can now, and they sat there and <i>ooh’d</i> and <i>aah’d</i> over these other guys. That was the first qualifying camp for Elite 11, and the last one I ever went to.”</p><p>Gina had driven him to Dallas for the prestigious camp run by former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer and despite her casual fanhood of the sport, she could see something was off. “We were naïve,” Gina says. “These guys that everybody was touting and trying to recruit, he was side by side, and beat them, and it didn’t get portrayed that way. We felt it was designed for certain people to be propped up. It made Baker aware. It stopped being about what other people said, and started being about what he knew he could do.”</p><p>The rest of the story is well-documented: He walked on at Texas Tech after earning scholarship offers from FAU, Rice and Washington State, three schools he had little interest in. After walking on and winning the starting job at Tech, he fell out with the coaching staff and walked on at Oklahoma. He spent hours diving into a new playbook and nights sneaking into the stadium in Norman to visualize and walk-through plays on the turf.</p><p>“He came in already believing he was the guy,” says Oklahoma linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. “At first people were like, huh? But he earned the respect so fast. When he was battling with Trevor Knight, that was some of the craziest football I’ve ever seen. He was making guys miss, then throwing a 40-yard bomb into a tight window.</p><p>“On the first day, it looked like he played with those receivers for 10 years. When we got back in the locker room all the receivers were like, that’s the guy I want.”</p><p>What often looked like natural ability and intuition to outsiders and newcomers was Mayfield’s work ethic manifesting itself, friends and coaches say. That’s Lake Travis head coach Hank Carter’s main beef with the Manziel comparison.</p><p>“I’d say it’s reckless to compare them. Baker has never been involved in something where he’s causing harm to someone, ever,” Carter says. “I’ve never heard anyone question Baker’s love for football. I’ve never heard anyone question Baker’s dedication in the film room, or on the practice field, or in the offseason. His ability to be coached. Those are some of the things the media was putting out there, true or not. But you don’t hear anyone saying that about Baker because it’s not true.”</p><p>There was ample opportunity for violence over the years. When Mayfield transferred from Texas Tech, every alumni in Austin who recognized him was looking for trouble, says John Pate, a Lake Travis dad whose son played with Mayfield.</p><p>“All the stories I heard was that when he was in college and the boys were on 6th street and he got confronted, he booked it out of there as soon as possible,” Pate says. After the whole TTU thing, they hated Baker, and he caught hell from every alumni on the planet. He had to leave his brother and my son and the other boys to handle it. He could’ve fought a lot and didn’t do it.”</p><p>The Arkansas arrest is what will give NFL teams pause. When Pate saw James and Gina Mayfield in a restaurant after the incident made news, James mused, “I told Baker, nothing good happens in Arkansas.” The most common defense among those close to Mayfield—“He’s 22”—won’t be very convincing for evaluators tasked with selecting a face of the franchise this spring. Gina says it’s truly Baker’s biggest regret.</p><p>“Baker prided himself on never wanting to be that person that let people down, that did those things,” she says. “And he and I knew the comparisons to Johnny would come after that.</p><p>“At the end of the day that will work itself out. It’s not a life or death sentence. And when people meet him they’ll know.”</p><p><strong><em>• Question or comment? </em></strong><em>Email us at </em><span><em>talkback@themmqb.com</em></span><em>.</em></p>
Baker Mayfield’s Hometown Bristles at Manziel Comparisons

Part 2 of our draft season series on Baker Mayfield, the 2018 draft’s most fascinating prospect on and off the field

AUSTIN — At Lake Travis High School, on the gated outskirts of Texas’ capital city, there’s a tradition to honor senior football players. Parents cut plywood into silhouettes shaped like Cavaliers and paint the boys’ names and numbers onto the wood, to be displayed on a prominent fence on the sprawling campus. When Baker Mayfield was a senior, a handful of boys from rival Westlake High School, under cover of darkness, stole his Cav-man off the fence.

Whether they stole more than one cavalier or just Mayfield’s is not known—local history is hazy on this point. We know this: Mayfield and his friends weren’t going to let the aggression stand. Mayfield and teammate/best friend Zach Austin drove to the local Whataburger, which remains the most popular late-night hangout for Lake Travis students. They had a hunch the Westlake boys would be there, preening on enemy turf.

“Sometimes they would come there for a confrontation,” Austin says. “Sure enough, there were five Westlake kids in there, and they started talking trash to us and Baker was right there talking trash, and we kind of made them leave. They jumped in their car and waved the Cav-man at us as they sped off.”

A Mayfield-led team never lost to Westlake, with Lake Travis beating their rivals 35-7 in the 2011 regular season, and 14-11 in the 2012 playoffs, with Mayfield dragging an injury-plagued roster to victory. The episode foretold what would become Mayfield’s personal ethos: Embrace the insults and slights, and feed off of them.

• BAKER MAYFIELD KNEW WHY HE WAS AT THE SENIOR BOWL: And he didn’t have much patience for anything else.

It’s why you saw him taunt the Kansas sideline by grabbing his crotch after they refused to shake his hand, and why he planted the OU flag on the midfield logo at Ohio State, after getting into an argument with some over-served Buckeye fans. Though the one incident Mayfield’s supporters have the most trouble defending came last February; Fayetteville (Ark.) police arrested him after he tried to run away from officers questioning him about a 2 a.m. fight. Mayfield, who had been visiting friends with his girlfriend, said he was trying to break it up. Put it all under the NFL draft microscope, and you get the analysis Cleveland.com procured from three anonymous NFL sources last week.

“Baker has a pattern of disrespect,” a scout told Mary Kay Cabot. “Off-the-field, he’s Johnny Manziel.”

Said a coach: “He needs work. He’s going to be a challenge.”

Said a high-level NFL personnel executive, per Cabot: “He has not shown anywhere near enough emotional maturity to handle what’s coming his way. ... A lot of Manziel characteristics.”

It’s that comparison that irks people like Austin and others in the Lake Travis community who are close to Mayfield. For all the high-profile prospects in the 2018 draft, Mayfield’s destination is arguably the biggest unknown. One could see him being seriously considered by the Cleveland Browns with the No. 1 overall selection, or as far back as the end of the first round. Much will hinge on whether evaluators believe the comparison to Manziel—the former Heisman Trophy winner and first-round pick who flamed out of the NFL after two short seasons with the Browns—is justified, or bunk.

“I honestly don’t understand the comparison off the field,” Austin says. “From what I heard, Johnny had a lot of issues. Knowing Baker, I can tell you right now, it’s not a good comparison.”

Austin, who has been one of Mayfield's closest friends since middle school, says he often tried to convince Mayfield to enjoy the party scene at Lake Travis on the weekends, especially after football wins, but Mayfield would rather stay home and play Halo 3 on Xbox.

“He never went out,” says Austin, who is now working toward a graduate degree in personal finance. “He wanted to stay away from that scene. I know that sounds unbelievable, and it may sound like I’m trying to hide something, but he never went out.

Says former Lake Travis assistant Ryan Priem: “He was a video game nerd. We never had to worry about any of them partying. It was really nice, because you didn’t have to worry about it. I’ve been in places where you dreaded Fridays.”

Mayfield floated the idea of abandoning football and becoming a professional Halo player, Austin says, while reeling from a disappointing start to the football season on the freshman team. Mayfield was set to be benched after two games, but the quarterback who was supposed to take his spot suffered a weightlifting injury. During that time, and throughout the rest of his career, coaches describe him as the consummate teammate.

“The Baker I know does not draw attention to himself off the field,” said Lake Travis assistant coach Jonathan Coats. “He doesn’t seek any kind of fame. He never had that gigantic personality that some people do. He never got in trouble with us, not for being late, never a grade problem. The dude was a leader and we counted on him.”

• THE FALL OF JOHNNY MANZIEL: How it all went so wrong in Cleveland.

In Mayfield’s third year, despite coaches acknowledging Mayfield possessed a better arm than the senior quarterback ahead of him, they gave senior Collin Lagasse the starting nod for combined running and passing ability. On the sixth play of the season, Lagasse suffered a shoulder injury on a scramble down the right sideline. With Mayfield under center, they went 16-0 and won the 4A title game over Midway in Waco.

“I think all of that absolutely made his perspective what it is,” his mother, Gina Mayfield says. “You don’t get to a high level and stay there without extremely hard work and always having to strive. So I think the things that happened to him early on, made him able to do what he needed to do to be successful.”

Then came Baker’s a-ha moment, Gina says, when a labor of love morphed into an inflexible and unflinching sense of self-confidence. At an Elite 11 qualifying camp in Dallas in 2011, Mayfield realized what he was capable of, through yet another slight.

“I sat in front of all these QB experts,” Mayfield says. “I threw in front of some of these guys in high school, and I could throw then just like I can now, and they sat there and ooh’d and aah’d over these other guys. That was the first qualifying camp for Elite 11, and the last one I ever went to.”

Gina had driven him to Dallas for the prestigious camp run by former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer and despite her casual fanhood of the sport, she could see something was off. “We were naïve,” Gina says. “These guys that everybody was touting and trying to recruit, he was side by side, and beat them, and it didn’t get portrayed that way. We felt it was designed for certain people to be propped up. It made Baker aware. It stopped being about what other people said, and started being about what he knew he could do.”

The rest of the story is well-documented: He walked on at Texas Tech after earning scholarship offers from FAU, Rice and Washington State, three schools he had little interest in. After walking on and winning the starting job at Tech, he fell out with the coaching staff and walked on at Oklahoma. He spent hours diving into a new playbook and nights sneaking into the stadium in Norman to visualize and walk-through plays on the turf.

“He came in already believing he was the guy,” says Oklahoma linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. “At first people were like, huh? But he earned the respect so fast. When he was battling with Trevor Knight, that was some of the craziest football I’ve ever seen. He was making guys miss, then throwing a 40-yard bomb into a tight window.

“On the first day, it looked like he played with those receivers for 10 years. When we got back in the locker room all the receivers were like, that’s the guy I want.”

What often looked like natural ability and intuition to outsiders and newcomers was Mayfield’s work ethic manifesting itself, friends and coaches say. That’s Lake Travis head coach Hank Carter’s main beef with the Manziel comparison.

“I’d say it’s reckless to compare them. Baker has never been involved in something where he’s causing harm to someone, ever,” Carter says. “I’ve never heard anyone question Baker’s love for football. I’ve never heard anyone question Baker’s dedication in the film room, or on the practice field, or in the offseason. His ability to be coached. Those are some of the things the media was putting out there, true or not. But you don’t hear anyone saying that about Baker because it’s not true.”

There was ample opportunity for violence over the years. When Mayfield transferred from Texas Tech, every alumni in Austin who recognized him was looking for trouble, says John Pate, a Lake Travis dad whose son played with Mayfield.

“All the stories I heard was that when he was in college and the boys were on 6th street and he got confronted, he booked it out of there as soon as possible,” Pate says. After the whole TTU thing, they hated Baker, and he caught hell from every alumni on the planet. He had to leave his brother and my son and the other boys to handle it. He could’ve fought a lot and didn’t do it.”

The Arkansas arrest is what will give NFL teams pause. When Pate saw James and Gina Mayfield in a restaurant after the incident made news, James mused, “I told Baker, nothing good happens in Arkansas.” The most common defense among those close to Mayfield—“He’s 22”—won’t be very convincing for evaluators tasked with selecting a face of the franchise this spring. Gina says it’s truly Baker’s biggest regret.

“Baker prided himself on never wanting to be that person that let people down, that did those things,” she says. “And he and I knew the comparisons to Johnny would come after that.

“At the end of the day that will work itself out. It’s not a life or death sentence. And when people meet him they’ll know.”

• Question or comment? Email us at talkback@themmqb.com.

A LIFT OF THEIR OWN lands us in the middle of the 1970’s where the Vietnam War is affecting everything: music, culture, sex and former bodybuilder Martin Fuller’s gym. Finding the opportunity to lift weights for the first time, a lonely housewife quickly realizes she loves it and invites her friend to try it out. More and more women eventually join the gym and it isn’t long before women’s weightlifting takes the world by storm.
A Lift of Their Own
A LIFT OF THEIR OWN lands us in the middle of the 1970’s where the Vietnam War is affecting everything: music, culture, sex and former bodybuilder Martin Fuller’s gym. Finding the opportunity to lift weights for the first time, a lonely housewife quickly realizes she loves it and invites her friend to try it out. More and more women eventually join the gym and it isn’t long before women’s weightlifting takes the world by storm.
A LIFT OF THEIR OWN lands us in the middle of the 1970’s where the Vietnam War is affecting everything: music, culture, sex and former bodybuilder Martin Fuller’s gym. Finding the opportunity to lift weights for the first time, a lonely housewife quickly realizes she loves it and invites her friend to try it out. More and more women eventually join the gym and it isn’t long before women’s weightlifting takes the world by storm.
A Lift of Their Own
A LIFT OF THEIR OWN lands us in the middle of the 1970’s where the Vietnam War is affecting everything: music, culture, sex and former bodybuilder Martin Fuller’s gym. Finding the opportunity to lift weights for the first time, a lonely housewife quickly realizes she loves it and invites her friend to try it out. More and more women eventually join the gym and it isn’t long before women’s weightlifting takes the world by storm.
A LIFT OF THEIR OWN lands us in the middle of the 1970’s where the Vietnam War is affecting everything: music, culture, sex and former bodybuilder Martin Fuller’s gym. Finding the opportunity to lift weights for the first time, a lonely housewife quickly realizes she loves it and invites her friend to try it out. More and more women eventually join the gym and it isn’t long before women’s weightlifting takes the world by storm.
A Lift of Their Own
A LIFT OF THEIR OWN lands us in the middle of the 1970’s where the Vietnam War is affecting everything: music, culture, sex and former bodybuilder Martin Fuller’s gym. Finding the opportunity to lift weights for the first time, a lonely housewife quickly realizes she loves it and invites her friend to try it out. More and more women eventually join the gym and it isn’t long before women’s weightlifting takes the world by storm.
A LIFT OF THEIR OWN lands us in the middle of the 1970’s where the Vietnam War is affecting everything: music, culture, sex and former bodybuilder Martin Fuller’s gym. Finding the opportunity to lift weights for the first time, a lonely housewife quickly realizes she loves it and invites her friend to try it out. More and more women eventually join the gym and it isn’t long before women’s weightlifting takes the world by storm.
A Lift of Their Own
A LIFT OF THEIR OWN lands us in the middle of the 1970’s where the Vietnam War is affecting everything: music, culture, sex and former bodybuilder Martin Fuller’s gym. Finding the opportunity to lift weights for the first time, a lonely housewife quickly realizes she loves it and invites her friend to try it out. More and more women eventually join the gym and it isn’t long before women’s weightlifting takes the world by storm.
Next time you head into a Globo Gym-style commercial gym, take a look around and check out the footwear your fellow gym goers are sporting. Chances ar...
Wearing Running Shoes While Weightlifting Can Kill Your Strength Gains
Next time you head into a Globo Gym-style commercial gym, take a look around and check out the footwear your fellow gym goers are sporting. Chances ar...
Want to get ripped but can&#39;t stand generalized fitness apps? These are the best weightlifting apps with a focus on gains, form, muscle targeting, and the other features that you&#39;re really looking for.
Looking to build some serious muscle? These weightlifting apps will pump you up
Want to get ripped but can't stand generalized fitness apps? These are the best weightlifting apps with a focus on gains, form, muscle targeting, and the other features that you're really looking for.
Want to get ripped but can&#39;t stand generalized fitness apps? These are the best weightlifting apps with a focus on gains, form, muscle targeting, and the other features that you&#39;re really looking for.
Looking to build some serious muscle? These weightlifting apps will pump you up
Want to get ripped but can't stand generalized fitness apps? These are the best weightlifting apps with a focus on gains, form, muscle targeting, and the other features that you're really looking for.
Want to get ripped but can&#39;t stand generalized fitness apps? These are the best weightlifting apps with a focus on gains, form, muscle targeting, and the other features that you&#39;re really looking for.
Looking to build some serious muscle? These weightlifting apps will pump you up
Want to get ripped but can't stand generalized fitness apps? These are the best weightlifting apps with a focus on gains, form, muscle targeting, and the other features that you're really looking for.
Want to get ripped but can&#39;t stand generalized fitness apps? These are the best weightlifting apps with a focus on gains, form, muscle targeting, and the other features that you&#39;re really looking for.
Looking to build some serious muscle? These weightlifting apps will pump you up
Want to get ripped but can't stand generalized fitness apps? These are the best weightlifting apps with a focus on gains, form, muscle targeting, and the other features that you're really looking for.
Want to get ripped but can&#39;t stand generalized fitness apps? These are the best weightlifting apps with a focus on gains, form, muscle targeting, and the other features that you&#39;re really looking for.
Looking to build some serious muscle? These weightlifting apps will pump you up
Want to get ripped but can't stand generalized fitness apps? These are the best weightlifting apps with a focus on gains, form, muscle targeting, and the other features that you're really looking for.
Want to get ripped but can&#39;t stand generalized fitness apps? These are the best weightlifting apps with a focus on gains, form, muscle targeting, and the other features that you&#39;re really looking for.
Looking to build some serious muscle? These weightlifting apps will pump you up
Want to get ripped but can't stand generalized fitness apps? These are the best weightlifting apps with a focus on gains, form, muscle targeting, and the other features that you're really looking for.
Want to get ripped but can&#39;t stand generalized fitness apps? These are the best weightlifting apps with a focus on gains, form, muscle targeting, and the other features that you&#39;re really looking for.
Looking to build some serious muscle? These weightlifting apps will pump you up
Want to get ripped but can't stand generalized fitness apps? These are the best weightlifting apps with a focus on gains, form, muscle targeting, and the other features that you're really looking for.
Want to get ripped but can&#39;t stand generalized fitness apps? These are the best weightlifting apps with a focus on gains, form, muscle targeting, and the other features that you&#39;re really looking for.
Looking to build some serious muscle? These weightlifting apps will pump you up
Want to get ripped but can't stand generalized fitness apps? These are the best weightlifting apps with a focus on gains, form, muscle targeting, and the other features that you're really looking for.
Want to get ripped but can&#39;t stand generalized fitness apps? These are the best weightlifting apps with a focus on gains, form, muscle targeting, and the other features that you&#39;re really looking for.
Looking to build some serious muscle? These weightlifting apps will pump you up
Want to get ripped but can't stand generalized fitness apps? These are the best weightlifting apps with a focus on gains, form, muscle targeting, and the other features that you're really looking for.
Want to get ripped but can&#39;t stand generalized fitness apps? These are the best weightlifting apps with a focus on gains, form, muscle targeting, and the other features that you&#39;re really looking for.
Looking to build some serious muscle? These weightlifting apps will pump you up
Want to get ripped but can't stand generalized fitness apps? These are the best weightlifting apps with a focus on gains, form, muscle targeting, and the other features that you're really looking for.
<p><em>SI.com’s Week in Wrestling is published every Wednesday and provides beneath the surface coverage of the business of pro wrestling.</em></p><h3><strong>News of the Week: Mark Henry looks back on 22 years as the World’s Strongest Man</strong></h3><p>Mark Henry is not finished in his role as the “World’s Strongest Man.”</p><p>“I am not retired,” said Henry, who made his WWE debut 22 years ago in 1996. “There is still a lot I can do.”</p><p>Henry turns 47 this June, but his age is not what is keeping him away from the ring.</p><p>“I love the WWE, I love the company, but I have two kids and they want me home,” said Henry. “They want me to see their recitals and sporting events, and I want to see them grow and evolve. My dad didn’t live with me when I was growing up, and he missed so much. I am not going to repeat that.”</p><p>Starting with an appearance on <em>Monday Night Raw</em> in June of 1996, Henry has put together a run in WWE that will be nearly impossible to repeat. In addition to longevity, Henry has remained an active part of WWE’s heartbeat for over two decades.</p><p>“There is no way I could have seen that coming,” said Henry, who, at 6&#39;4&quot; and 400 pounds, is arguably the most accomplished athlete to ever step foot in WWE having won world championships in powerlifting, a national championship in weightlifting a staggering seven times, and even competed in two Olympic games. “So many things come with your maturation process. I changed throughout my time with WWE from a kid in his 20s into a man.”</p><p>Entry into the Nation of Domination marked Henry’s first real break in the WWE in January of ‘98, when he was presented to Ron “Faarooq” Simmons as a gift from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.</p><p>“That was the first time I was on television with the Nation,” said Henry. “Dwayne was introducing me to Ron and said, ‘Hey, I got you a present. I got you the World’s Strongest Man.’ I was their heater, their enforcer, and I really wasn’t supposed to say anything. My job was to stand there and look big.</p><p>“I said to Ron, ‘I’m here for you’ and Ron shouted, ‘Shut up! Nobody’s talking to you!’ I was like, ‘Oh s---, is he being serious?’ Afterward, Ron told me, ‘Later on, you’ll have all the opportunity in the world to talk. But I was in my moment, and you can’t step on somebody else’s moment.’ It took a second, but I understood what he meant. You can’t always make it about you. That was a learning experience.”</p><p>Henry learned leadership skills, he noted, from Simmons, The Rock, The Undertaker and Owen Hart, then applied them to his own career as a singles star at the turn of the century.</p><p>“I took my training to a whole new level in ’99,” said Henry. “The WWE was beginning to recreate itself with a very young roster, kind of like it’s doing now. In a few years, you won’t see Kane, Mark Henry, The Undertaker, or the Big Show, we’ll all be gone. So, back then, I recreated myself.”</p><p>Despite years of experience on the main roster, WWE recommended Henry improve his craft at their developmental level, Ohio Valley Wrestling. While others would have viewed this as a demotion, Henry turned it into an opportunity that reinvigorated his entire career.</p><p>“I really started to feel the results by about 2003,” said Henry. “It took me about seven years to grasp that I had to be free, not worry about perceptions, and move 100 miles an hour so that people know this is real. If you believe, it will be real. There was a time I was thinking so much that it wasn’t real; when I started to believe, I could do anything.”</p><p>Henry’s most successful run in the company took place when he won the world heavyweight championship in September of 2011 as part of his “Hall of Pain” stretch.</p><p>“I was believable because I truly believed I was better than everyone I stepped into the ring with during the time,” said Henry. “I’ve been around. I wrestled Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, I drove for Yokozuna when I was a young boy in WWE. I was introduced to Randy Orton, Dave Bautista, and John Cena in Ohio Valley.</p><p>“During that time, I was wrestling the best guys in the world. Several of those guys were Hall of Famers, and there were some future Hall of Famers, so I said, ‘The hell with the Hall of Fame, welcome to the Hall of Pain.’”</p><p>Longevity is nearly impossible in pro wrestling, and there is a constant battle to stay relevant, but Henry subtly and skillfully ascertained that his best way to make a lasting impact in the company was to help build newer stars.</p><p>“The older guys hated on us when I started, so I decided to make the business better,” said Henry. “I wanted to help bring guys in to help take our place throughout the years, guys like Daniel Bryan, Braun Strowman, Baron Corbin, and Apollo Crews. I feel a sense of accomplishment that I’ve done my part to usher in the next generation.”</p><p>Discussion of his retirement reignited memories of a 2013 angle with John Cena, where Cena shared an emotional promo detailing what Henry had meant to the WWE—and Henry then thanked Cena with a vicious “World’s Most Powerful” slam.</p><p>“John and I have known each other a long time,” said Henry. “Originally, nobody knew John Cena rapped. It was just something he did in the car. I told Bruce Prichard, and that’s how the whole ‘Thugonomics’ run began.</p><p>“That night on <em>Raw</em>, there was genuine respect. I really respect what John has accomplished in his career, from his wrestling to his work as an ambassador for the fans and everyone who works here and makes more money because John is on the card. People think our business is this completely fictional world of big guys in tight clothes with no brains. That’s not the way it is, this is a psychology driven business. You have to take people on an emotional ride without using words. ”</p><p>• <a href="https://www.si.com/vault/1991/07/15/124538/heavy-duty-weightlifter-mark-henry-is-a-prodigious-prodigy" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:FROM THE VAULT: Weighlifter Mark Henry is a prodigious prodigy" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><strong>FROM THE VAULT: Weighlifter Mark Henry is a prodigious prodigy</strong></a></p><p>A renaissance man that loves to cook (with a predilection toward cooking Cajun style; his signature dish is his jambalaya) and who has penned over 150 poems, Henry promises that you have not heard the last from him—but, for now, there is work to be accomplished at home and in the office.</p><p>“Not everyone takes a lot of pride in being a parent, even though they should,” said Henry. “I love being a parent. But I’d also like to say thank you to the fans for enduring my bad times, and also thank them for being there for me in my good times.</p><p>“I refuse to disrespect a fan, and that’s a big reason why I have had the success I’ve had. I can’t thank people enough for allowing me to have the existence that I’ve had in this business.”</p><p><strong>***</strong></p><p>Bobby Roode got his first taste of WWE gold last night on <em>SmackDown</em>, as he defeated Mojo Rawley in the semi-finals and then Jinder Mahal in the finals to crown himself the new United States champion.</p><p>Roode will have rematches with Mahal, perhaps even at the upcoming Royal Rumble, but it is opportune timing that Roode is a champion and his greatest rival in the business just happens to be a free agent.</p><p>James Storm and Roode were five-time tag team champions in Impact Wrestling, but also combined for a handful of memorably intense singles affairs.</p><p>“Roode is one of the guys I love to be in the ring with because we just love to beat each other up,” said Storm. “Me and Roode have so much chemistry together. We wrestled each other as singles, then tagged together in Beer Money, then wrestled against one another again.”</p><p>The 40-year-old Storm finished with Impact in November of 2017, and he is lifting a little harder each day in hopes of signing with WWE.</p><p>“My ultimate goal is to go to WWE,” said Storm. “The WWE has such a grip on the world, it’s pretty amazing, and I believe I still have a lot to give.</p><p>“I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been. When I left Impact, I told people this isn’t my last stop, it’s just time for me to get on a new horse.”</p><p>Storm is also an integral part of this weekend’s Aro Lucha shows in Texas, with a Friday showing in Amarillo and then Saturday in Lubbock. Storm noted that he holds the history of Lucha Libre in extremely high regard.</p><p>“I’ve worked in Mexico and AAA, and the tradition and culture of Lucha Libre is amazing,” said Storm. “I grew up a fan of the Guerreros and Rey Mysterio, and Aro Lucha knows that even though I am not a high-flying luchador, I can still get in the ring and go.</p><p>“I’d love to team with ‘The Hurricane’ Shane Helms—we can be the HurriStorm.”</p><p>Storm promised to show the state of Texas this weekend at the Aro Lucha shows that he can still work at an elite level.</p><p>“People say, ‘Well, you’re 40 years old,’” said Storm. “When I grew up watching wrestling, my heroes were men like the ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage. The older you get, the more of a superhero you become. There is a reason there is Super Man, and not Super Boy.”</p><p>Another part of Storm that stands out is his heritage. The product of Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee speaks with a southern accent and he is not afraid to admit that he’s proud to live in the south.</p><p>“Growing up, watching all these different promotions, there was that one southern guy who stood out, whether it was Dusty Rhodes or later Steve Austin,” said the 6-foot, 235-pound Storm. “I don’t know what it is about rednecks and wrestling, but people gravitate to them. You believe what they’re saying because they believe what they’re saying.</p><p>“I pride myself on the whole James Storm character,” added Storm. “That is me and how I live my life. I know that, one day, this life is going to end–not just wrestling, but life in general, and I’m going to live life to the fullest.”</p><h3>In other news…</h3><p>• Goldberg was announced Monday as the first inductee for WWE’s Hall of Fame class of 2018, but SI.com also learned there was interest from New Japan Pro Wrestling regarding the immediate future of Goldberg.</p><p>New Japan is circling the west coast, and the tires were kicked on Goldberg, who would have made an interesting player for New Japan. His style of wrestling—intense, aggressive, and physical, albeit in short spurts—could have added an interesting piece to their puzzle as they look to build a bridge to the United States. New Japan is establishing itself as a player for top North American talent, and the addition of the 51-year-old Goldberg would have made for appointment viewing.</p><p>Interesting opportunities also exist for Goldberg in WWE, including a plethora of never-before-seen matches against John Cena, AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Braun Strowman, and even Kurt Angle.</p><p>There are still people within WWE asking, “What is there left to do with Bill Goldberg?” but a spark remains. Goldberg needs to be presented in a very careful manner to cultivate his authentic presence. Goldberg also presents multiple challenges, given his age and limited mobility in the ring, so his return is a delicate dance, but his presence would enhance the card for WrestleMania 34.</p><p>• Gabe Sapolsky has signed a contract with WWE and NXT to serve as a creative consultant.</p><p>In addition to his work with WWE, the 24-year wrestling veteran will also remain in his role as WWN Vice President of Talent Relations and Creative as he oversees EVOLVE. EVOLVE’s next two shows are February 17 in New York for EVOLVE 100 and February 18 in Maryland for EVOLVE 101.</p><p>In addition to Keith Lee vs. AR Fox for the WWN championship, Sports Illustrated has learned that Zack Sabre Jr.—who was victorious in a title defense over Darby Allin this past weekend—will put his EVOLVE title on the line at EVOLVE 100 against wrestling prodigy Austin Theory.</p><p>Sapolsky’s dual roles, with WWE and WWN, should make the idea of working for EVOLVE—even as a free agent—that much more appealing for talent aspiring to get to NXT and WWE.</p><p>• The WWE commentary team noted on Raw that, due to an injury, Paige will not be participating in the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble.</p><p>Paige’s absence from the ring supports the news from <a href="https://www.pwinsider.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:PWInsider’s" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">PWInsider’s</a> Mike Johnson, <a href="https://www.pwinsider.com/ViewArticle.php?id=114747" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:who broke the story that her in-ring career is over" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">who broke the story that her in-ring career is over</a> in WWE at the age of only 25 due to lingering neck issues.</p><p>Johnson is one of the most respected voices in wrestling journalism, and he was asked if Paige’s neck injuries will alter the way WWE treats injured talent.</p><p>“I don’t know if the Paige situation will specifically change how WWE approaches talent injuries, but I do believe WWE is already being more cautious with talents’ health compared to even a few years ago, which, while a major change from the romanticized notion of pro wrestlers working through injuries and running on the road no matter what, is a greatly smarter strategy for the long-term health and overall outlook of the talents,” explained Johnson. “They’ve sent talents home if they have been sick, even if it’s someone like Braun Strowman who is among their most popular talents right now. They’ve kept talents off the road from live events or relegated them to non-physical roles on television if there are injury issues, as we’ve seen in the past week with both Jason Jordan and Kevin Owens. While certainly it requires some shuffling of WWE plans at the last minute, it’s a much wiser long-term decision in terms of longevity. Over the course of the company’s histories, stories of how rough the old road schedule was or stories about how talents were pushed to keep going—think about CM Punk’s claims just a few years ago—were the norm. Now, talents are routinely protected from themselves. It’s a vastly different mindset and in my opinion, a major step in the right direction.”</p><p>Johnson also touched on Paige’s future, and whether she stay relevant in a role outside of active competition.</p><p>“There are lots of ways the company can build upon her legacy now that she is no longer cleared to compete in the ring due to her neck issues,” said Johnson. “The film Fighting with My Family [based on Paige’s life and executive produced by The Rock] is going to be heavily promoted by the company as it’s going to be a big theatrical release. The company can transition her into a role where she’s the leader of Absolution and have her as an antagonist that doesn’t take bumps, similar to the role Ted DiBiase had as the leader of the Million Dollar Corporation after neck issues ended his in-ring career in 1993. They can use her as a brand ambassador. They can use her as an announcer. In 2018, there are lots of roles someone with her gift for gab and personality can be slotted into that can insure she’s kept on camera and continues to be part of the company in a meaningful way. Daniel Bryan is proof of that alone. It’s a tragic, sad thing that she won’t be wrestling again, but it’s not the end of her life or even her WWE run.”</p><p>• WWE Hall of Famer Edge returns to television this week, appearing on History’s Vikings Wednesday night at 9 p.m. ET. Known in the credits as Adam Copeland, here is an exclusive preview of Edge in tonight’s episode:</p><p>• PCW Ultra returns to action for its 2K18 Anniversary show this Friday in Wilmington, California, featuring a main event tag match between Sami Callihan and John Hennigan vs. Penta and the Great Muta.</p><p>The promotion’s booker is Joseph Cabibbo, who formerly wrestled as the Almighty Sheik and is now one-half of the PCW Ultra tag team champions as Josef.</p><p>Cabibbo has a very unique booking style, and his shows are able to appeal to hardcore fans while still connecting with the mainstream audience.</p><p>“I hit the business at a really interesting time,” said the 43-year-old Cabibbo. “It was the end of the old guard, so I got all of the old-school knowledge handed down to me from legends like Jake Roberts and Kevin Sullivan, but we were also transitioning into a new era. I’m right in that middle, and the perfect storm of the business today is riding that old school knowledge with the athleticism and thought-process of the new age.”</p><p>The PCW Ultra show, which is available on <a href="https://www.fite.tv/watch/pcw-ultra-anniversary-2k18/2milr/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:FITE TV" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">FITE TV</a>, also features Brian Cage, Fenix, Jimmy Jacobs, and the “Bad Boy” Joey Janela. Yet the opportunity to put Muta and Penta together in the same match was a dream come true for both Cabibbo and Penta.</p><p>“Penta is such a huge fan of the Great Muta, and he’s almost the Mexican version of Muta,” said Cabibbo. “But Muta is his hero, and we’re looking forward to the legend of the Great Muta validating Penta in what should be an incredible passing of the torch.”</p><p>Cabibbo was greatly influenced by his time working in Puerto Rico and Japan, and those experiences only strengthened his belief that fan experience is his top priority.</p><p>“This is a quick-moving, unique product that offers a brand that is not offered anywhere else in the world at this time,” said Cabibbo. “We are constantly growing and constantly fine-tuning, and we have aspirations of television and pay per view. We want to tour PCW Ultra across the nation, we’re willing to do business with other companies, and it’s going to be very fun for fans to watch us grow.”</p><p>• MLW’s Zero Hour is now available on <a href="https://mlw.pivotshare.com/home" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:MLW.tv" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">MLW.tv</a>, and the match between Penta Rey Fenix alone is worth the $4.99 price tag for the show.</p><p>Penta and Fenix highlighted a cutting-edge version of lucha. There was aerial combat with dives, springboards, and a phenomenal, precise armbar into a piledriver by Penta, but the story of the match between the two brothers was as compelling as it was dynamic courtesy of their two styles. For those who watched wrestling in the 90’s, watching Penta and Fenix is like watching Rey Mysterio battle Psicosis for a new generation.</p><p>MLW now plans to crown a world champion with a title tournament beginning at its next show in February.</p><p>• Francis Ngannou plans to knock out Brock Lesnar after he does the same to UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic.</p><p>Ngannou challenges Miocic at UFC 220 this Saturday at the TD Garden in Boston, and noted that he will relish the opportunity to defend the title against Lesnar after he dethrones Micocic.</p><p>“I’m focused on Miocic,” said Ngannou. “I don’t even know if Brock Lesnar will ever be back to MMA. But I’ve thought about fights with [Alistair] Overeem and Lesnar. I fought Overeem in December and knocked him out. If I get the chance, I’ll fight Brock Lesnar and knock him out, too.”</p><p>• <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/HopNClY0YEHmpKRGiJcCNs?domain=mlwradio.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard</a> and co-host Conrad Thompson return this Friday at noon ET with a new podcast, examining the 1998 Royal Rumble.</p><p>“There is so much going on in the company, especially with Mike Tyson’s arrival,” said Thompson. “Bruce and I theorize that a big part of ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin’s rise is from working with Mike Tyson, but what if Tyson never bit Evander Holyfield’s ear?”</p><p>Thompson added some fascinating pieces of information regarding Tyson and the WWE.</p><p>“When Tyson fought Holyfield in June of ‘97, Nitro was in Vegas two nights later and Tyson had agreed to appear on WCW television as a special guest of the NWO,” said Thompson. “Then he bit Holyfield’s f------ ear, and WCW didn’t have Tyson. It’s interesting to think Tyson would have been part of the NWO instead of DX.</p><p>“Also, I’ll ask Bruce how Vince McMahon had $4 million to pay Mike Tyson only months after he claimed he couldn’t afford to pay Bret Hart. We’ll also talk about how the boys felt about that.”</p><p>There are multiple facets to the ‘98 Rumble, which Steve Austin won by last eliminating The Rock, including an appearance by Terry Funk as Chainsaw Charlie.</p><p>“We will talk about Terry Funk coming out of a box, which is a fun story,” said Thompson. “The ‘Three Faces of Foley’ are all in the Rumble, and we’ve seen better days but this is near the end for the Legion of Doom. The New Age Outlaws are on the upswing, and there was almost a UFC fight with Ken Shamrock, but the big story is dissecting the Shawn Michaels injury.”</p><p>Michaels suffered a back injury in his Royal Rumble casket match against The Undertaker that helped lead to retirement only a few months later.</p><p>“Shawn was pretty difficult to deal with, including starting riots at house shows in Arkansas and Memphis, and we cover those riots, really for the first time, where tear gas was used at WWE house shows. A lot of people, Jim Cornette included, point the blame at Shawn Michaels, and we talk about that.”</p><p>Thompson and Prichard also discuss whether Tyson was ever slated to wrestle Austin, as well as all angles of the Rumble itself.</p><p>“We’ll also talk about why Crush left the company, and I’m not sure that story has ever been told,” said Thompson. “There are so many angles to explore for the 1998 Royal Rumble.”</p><p>Thompson and Prichard are on the road for a live show with Eric Bischoff at the Barclays Center following Friday’s Brooklyn Nets-Miami Heat game. Thompson, who has sparred on social media in the past with Bischoff, promised that he will not hold back when dissecting and analyzing the “Monday Night Wars.”</p><p>“Bischoff is not ready for Conrad Thompson, and this is not going to go the way he expects it to,” said Thompson. “We’re going to talk about the ‘Monday Night Wars’ in a big way, where Bruce has some strong opinions, Eric has some strong opinions, and I’ll be there with facts in hand to call bulls--- on all of it.”</p><h3>Tweet of the Week</h3><p>Only in wrestling.</p><p><em>Justin Barrasso can be reached at <span>JBarrasso@gmail.com</span>. Follow him on Twitter @<a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/tM_ZCn5l56igjL9wSXISAB?domain=twitter.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:JustinBarrasso" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">JustinBarrasso</a>.</em></p>
The Week in Wrestling: Mark Henry Reflects on a Legendary Career; James Storm on Bobby Roode

SI.com’s Week in Wrestling is published every Wednesday and provides beneath the surface coverage of the business of pro wrestling.

News of the Week: Mark Henry looks back on 22 years as the World’s Strongest Man

Mark Henry is not finished in his role as the “World’s Strongest Man.”

“I am not retired,” said Henry, who made his WWE debut 22 years ago in 1996. “There is still a lot I can do.”

Henry turns 47 this June, but his age is not what is keeping him away from the ring.

“I love the WWE, I love the company, but I have two kids and they want me home,” said Henry. “They want me to see their recitals and sporting events, and I want to see them grow and evolve. My dad didn’t live with me when I was growing up, and he missed so much. I am not going to repeat that.”

Starting with an appearance on Monday Night Raw in June of 1996, Henry has put together a run in WWE that will be nearly impossible to repeat. In addition to longevity, Henry has remained an active part of WWE’s heartbeat for over two decades.

“There is no way I could have seen that coming,” said Henry, who, at 6'4" and 400 pounds, is arguably the most accomplished athlete to ever step foot in WWE having won world championships in powerlifting, a national championship in weightlifting a staggering seven times, and even competed in two Olympic games. “So many things come with your maturation process. I changed throughout my time with WWE from a kid in his 20s into a man.”

Entry into the Nation of Domination marked Henry’s first real break in the WWE in January of ‘98, when he was presented to Ron “Faarooq” Simmons as a gift from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

“That was the first time I was on television with the Nation,” said Henry. “Dwayne was introducing me to Ron and said, ‘Hey, I got you a present. I got you the World’s Strongest Man.’ I was their heater, their enforcer, and I really wasn’t supposed to say anything. My job was to stand there and look big.

“I said to Ron, ‘I’m here for you’ and Ron shouted, ‘Shut up! Nobody’s talking to you!’ I was like, ‘Oh s---, is he being serious?’ Afterward, Ron told me, ‘Later on, you’ll have all the opportunity in the world to talk. But I was in my moment, and you can’t step on somebody else’s moment.’ It took a second, but I understood what he meant. You can’t always make it about you. That was a learning experience.”

Henry learned leadership skills, he noted, from Simmons, The Rock, The Undertaker and Owen Hart, then applied them to his own career as a singles star at the turn of the century.

“I took my training to a whole new level in ’99,” said Henry. “The WWE was beginning to recreate itself with a very young roster, kind of like it’s doing now. In a few years, you won’t see Kane, Mark Henry, The Undertaker, or the Big Show, we’ll all be gone. So, back then, I recreated myself.”

Despite years of experience on the main roster, WWE recommended Henry improve his craft at their developmental level, Ohio Valley Wrestling. While others would have viewed this as a demotion, Henry turned it into an opportunity that reinvigorated his entire career.

“I really started to feel the results by about 2003,” said Henry. “It took me about seven years to grasp that I had to be free, not worry about perceptions, and move 100 miles an hour so that people know this is real. If you believe, it will be real. There was a time I was thinking so much that it wasn’t real; when I started to believe, I could do anything.”

Henry’s most successful run in the company took place when he won the world heavyweight championship in September of 2011 as part of his “Hall of Pain” stretch.

“I was believable because I truly believed I was better than everyone I stepped into the ring with during the time,” said Henry. “I’ve been around. I wrestled Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, I drove for Yokozuna when I was a young boy in WWE. I was introduced to Randy Orton, Dave Bautista, and John Cena in Ohio Valley.

“During that time, I was wrestling the best guys in the world. Several of those guys were Hall of Famers, and there were some future Hall of Famers, so I said, ‘The hell with the Hall of Fame, welcome to the Hall of Pain.’”

Longevity is nearly impossible in pro wrestling, and there is a constant battle to stay relevant, but Henry subtly and skillfully ascertained that his best way to make a lasting impact in the company was to help build newer stars.

“The older guys hated on us when I started, so I decided to make the business better,” said Henry. “I wanted to help bring guys in to help take our place throughout the years, guys like Daniel Bryan, Braun Strowman, Baron Corbin, and Apollo Crews. I feel a sense of accomplishment that I’ve done my part to usher in the next generation.”

Discussion of his retirement reignited memories of a 2013 angle with John Cena, where Cena shared an emotional promo detailing what Henry had meant to the WWE—and Henry then thanked Cena with a vicious “World’s Most Powerful” slam.

“John and I have known each other a long time,” said Henry. “Originally, nobody knew John Cena rapped. It was just something he did in the car. I told Bruce Prichard, and that’s how the whole ‘Thugonomics’ run began.

“That night on Raw, there was genuine respect. I really respect what John has accomplished in his career, from his wrestling to his work as an ambassador for the fans and everyone who works here and makes more money because John is on the card. People think our business is this completely fictional world of big guys in tight clothes with no brains. That’s not the way it is, this is a psychology driven business. You have to take people on an emotional ride without using words. ”

FROM THE VAULT: Weighlifter Mark Henry is a prodigious prodigy

A renaissance man that loves to cook (with a predilection toward cooking Cajun style; his signature dish is his jambalaya) and who has penned over 150 poems, Henry promises that you have not heard the last from him—but, for now, there is work to be accomplished at home and in the office.

“Not everyone takes a lot of pride in being a parent, even though they should,” said Henry. “I love being a parent. But I’d also like to say thank you to the fans for enduring my bad times, and also thank them for being there for me in my good times.

“I refuse to disrespect a fan, and that’s a big reason why I have had the success I’ve had. I can’t thank people enough for allowing me to have the existence that I’ve had in this business.”

***

Bobby Roode got his first taste of WWE gold last night on SmackDown, as he defeated Mojo Rawley in the semi-finals and then Jinder Mahal in the finals to crown himself the new United States champion.

Roode will have rematches with Mahal, perhaps even at the upcoming Royal Rumble, but it is opportune timing that Roode is a champion and his greatest rival in the business just happens to be a free agent.

James Storm and Roode were five-time tag team champions in Impact Wrestling, but also combined for a handful of memorably intense singles affairs.

“Roode is one of the guys I love to be in the ring with because we just love to beat each other up,” said Storm. “Me and Roode have so much chemistry together. We wrestled each other as singles, then tagged together in Beer Money, then wrestled against one another again.”

The 40-year-old Storm finished with Impact in November of 2017, and he is lifting a little harder each day in hopes of signing with WWE.

“My ultimate goal is to go to WWE,” said Storm. “The WWE has such a grip on the world, it’s pretty amazing, and I believe I still have a lot to give.

“I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been. When I left Impact, I told people this isn’t my last stop, it’s just time for me to get on a new horse.”

Storm is also an integral part of this weekend’s Aro Lucha shows in Texas, with a Friday showing in Amarillo and then Saturday in Lubbock. Storm noted that he holds the history of Lucha Libre in extremely high regard.

“I’ve worked in Mexico and AAA, and the tradition and culture of Lucha Libre is amazing,” said Storm. “I grew up a fan of the Guerreros and Rey Mysterio, and Aro Lucha knows that even though I am not a high-flying luchador, I can still get in the ring and go.

“I’d love to team with ‘The Hurricane’ Shane Helms—we can be the HurriStorm.”

Storm promised to show the state of Texas this weekend at the Aro Lucha shows that he can still work at an elite level.

“People say, ‘Well, you’re 40 years old,’” said Storm. “When I grew up watching wrestling, my heroes were men like the ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage. The older you get, the more of a superhero you become. There is a reason there is Super Man, and not Super Boy.”

Another part of Storm that stands out is his heritage. The product of Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee speaks with a southern accent and he is not afraid to admit that he’s proud to live in the south.

“Growing up, watching all these different promotions, there was that one southern guy who stood out, whether it was Dusty Rhodes or later Steve Austin,” said the 6-foot, 235-pound Storm. “I don’t know what it is about rednecks and wrestling, but people gravitate to them. You believe what they’re saying because they believe what they’re saying.

“I pride myself on the whole James Storm character,” added Storm. “That is me and how I live my life. I know that, one day, this life is going to end–not just wrestling, but life in general, and I’m going to live life to the fullest.”

In other news…

• Goldberg was announced Monday as the first inductee for WWE’s Hall of Fame class of 2018, but SI.com also learned there was interest from New Japan Pro Wrestling regarding the immediate future of Goldberg.

New Japan is circling the west coast, and the tires were kicked on Goldberg, who would have made an interesting player for New Japan. His style of wrestling—intense, aggressive, and physical, albeit in short spurts—could have added an interesting piece to their puzzle as they look to build a bridge to the United States. New Japan is establishing itself as a player for top North American talent, and the addition of the 51-year-old Goldberg would have made for appointment viewing.

Interesting opportunities also exist for Goldberg in WWE, including a plethora of never-before-seen matches against John Cena, AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Braun Strowman, and even Kurt Angle.

There are still people within WWE asking, “What is there left to do with Bill Goldberg?” but a spark remains. Goldberg needs to be presented in a very careful manner to cultivate his authentic presence. Goldberg also presents multiple challenges, given his age and limited mobility in the ring, so his return is a delicate dance, but his presence would enhance the card for WrestleMania 34.

• Gabe Sapolsky has signed a contract with WWE and NXT to serve as a creative consultant.

In addition to his work with WWE, the 24-year wrestling veteran will also remain in his role as WWN Vice President of Talent Relations and Creative as he oversees EVOLVE. EVOLVE’s next two shows are February 17 in New York for EVOLVE 100 and February 18 in Maryland for EVOLVE 101.

In addition to Keith Lee vs. AR Fox for the WWN championship, Sports Illustrated has learned that Zack Sabre Jr.—who was victorious in a title defense over Darby Allin this past weekend—will put his EVOLVE title on the line at EVOLVE 100 against wrestling prodigy Austin Theory.

Sapolsky’s dual roles, with WWE and WWN, should make the idea of working for EVOLVE—even as a free agent—that much more appealing for talent aspiring to get to NXT and WWE.

• The WWE commentary team noted on Raw that, due to an injury, Paige will not be participating in the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble.

Paige’s absence from the ring supports the news from PWInsider’s Mike Johnson, who broke the story that her in-ring career is over in WWE at the age of only 25 due to lingering neck issues.

Johnson is one of the most respected voices in wrestling journalism, and he was asked if Paige’s neck injuries will alter the way WWE treats injured talent.

“I don’t know if the Paige situation will specifically change how WWE approaches talent injuries, but I do believe WWE is already being more cautious with talents’ health compared to even a few years ago, which, while a major change from the romanticized notion of pro wrestlers working through injuries and running on the road no matter what, is a greatly smarter strategy for the long-term health and overall outlook of the talents,” explained Johnson. “They’ve sent talents home if they have been sick, even if it’s someone like Braun Strowman who is among their most popular talents right now. They’ve kept talents off the road from live events or relegated them to non-physical roles on television if there are injury issues, as we’ve seen in the past week with both Jason Jordan and Kevin Owens. While certainly it requires some shuffling of WWE plans at the last minute, it’s a much wiser long-term decision in terms of longevity. Over the course of the company’s histories, stories of how rough the old road schedule was or stories about how talents were pushed to keep going—think about CM Punk’s claims just a few years ago—were the norm. Now, talents are routinely protected from themselves. It’s a vastly different mindset and in my opinion, a major step in the right direction.”

Johnson also touched on Paige’s future, and whether she stay relevant in a role outside of active competition.

“There are lots of ways the company can build upon her legacy now that she is no longer cleared to compete in the ring due to her neck issues,” said Johnson. “The film Fighting with My Family [based on Paige’s life and executive produced by The Rock] is going to be heavily promoted by the company as it’s going to be a big theatrical release. The company can transition her into a role where she’s the leader of Absolution and have her as an antagonist that doesn’t take bumps, similar to the role Ted DiBiase had as the leader of the Million Dollar Corporation after neck issues ended his in-ring career in 1993. They can use her as a brand ambassador. They can use her as an announcer. In 2018, there are lots of roles someone with her gift for gab and personality can be slotted into that can insure she’s kept on camera and continues to be part of the company in a meaningful way. Daniel Bryan is proof of that alone. It’s a tragic, sad thing that she won’t be wrestling again, but it’s not the end of her life or even her WWE run.”

• WWE Hall of Famer Edge returns to television this week, appearing on History’s Vikings Wednesday night at 9 p.m. ET. Known in the credits as Adam Copeland, here is an exclusive preview of Edge in tonight’s episode:

• PCW Ultra returns to action for its 2K18 Anniversary show this Friday in Wilmington, California, featuring a main event tag match between Sami Callihan and John Hennigan vs. Penta and the Great Muta.

The promotion’s booker is Joseph Cabibbo, who formerly wrestled as the Almighty Sheik and is now one-half of the PCW Ultra tag team champions as Josef.

Cabibbo has a very unique booking style, and his shows are able to appeal to hardcore fans while still connecting with the mainstream audience.

“I hit the business at a really interesting time,” said the 43-year-old Cabibbo. “It was the end of the old guard, so I got all of the old-school knowledge handed down to me from legends like Jake Roberts and Kevin Sullivan, but we were also transitioning into a new era. I’m right in that middle, and the perfect storm of the business today is riding that old school knowledge with the athleticism and thought-process of the new age.”

The PCW Ultra show, which is available on FITE TV, also features Brian Cage, Fenix, Jimmy Jacobs, and the “Bad Boy” Joey Janela. Yet the opportunity to put Muta and Penta together in the same match was a dream come true for both Cabibbo and Penta.

“Penta is such a huge fan of the Great Muta, and he’s almost the Mexican version of Muta,” said Cabibbo. “But Muta is his hero, and we’re looking forward to the legend of the Great Muta validating Penta in what should be an incredible passing of the torch.”

Cabibbo was greatly influenced by his time working in Puerto Rico and Japan, and those experiences only strengthened his belief that fan experience is his top priority.

“This is a quick-moving, unique product that offers a brand that is not offered anywhere else in the world at this time,” said Cabibbo. “We are constantly growing and constantly fine-tuning, and we have aspirations of television and pay per view. We want to tour PCW Ultra across the nation, we’re willing to do business with other companies, and it’s going to be very fun for fans to watch us grow.”

• MLW’s Zero Hour is now available on MLW.tv, and the match between Penta Rey Fenix alone is worth the $4.99 price tag for the show.

Penta and Fenix highlighted a cutting-edge version of lucha. There was aerial combat with dives, springboards, and a phenomenal, precise armbar into a piledriver by Penta, but the story of the match between the two brothers was as compelling as it was dynamic courtesy of their two styles. For those who watched wrestling in the 90’s, watching Penta and Fenix is like watching Rey Mysterio battle Psicosis for a new generation.

MLW now plans to crown a world champion with a title tournament beginning at its next show in February.

• Francis Ngannou plans to knock out Brock Lesnar after he does the same to UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic.

Ngannou challenges Miocic at UFC 220 this Saturday at the TD Garden in Boston, and noted that he will relish the opportunity to defend the title against Lesnar after he dethrones Micocic.

“I’m focused on Miocic,” said Ngannou. “I don’t even know if Brock Lesnar will ever be back to MMA. But I’ve thought about fights with [Alistair] Overeem and Lesnar. I fought Overeem in December and knocked him out. If I get the chance, I’ll fight Brock Lesnar and knock him out, too.”

Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard and co-host Conrad Thompson return this Friday at noon ET with a new podcast, examining the 1998 Royal Rumble.

“There is so much going on in the company, especially with Mike Tyson’s arrival,” said Thompson. “Bruce and I theorize that a big part of ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin’s rise is from working with Mike Tyson, but what if Tyson never bit Evander Holyfield’s ear?”

Thompson added some fascinating pieces of information regarding Tyson and the WWE.

“When Tyson fought Holyfield in June of ‘97, Nitro was in Vegas two nights later and Tyson had agreed to appear on WCW television as a special guest of the NWO,” said Thompson. “Then he bit Holyfield’s f------ ear, and WCW didn’t have Tyson. It’s interesting to think Tyson would have been part of the NWO instead of DX.

“Also, I’ll ask Bruce how Vince McMahon had $4 million to pay Mike Tyson only months after he claimed he couldn’t afford to pay Bret Hart. We’ll also talk about how the boys felt about that.”

There are multiple facets to the ‘98 Rumble, which Steve Austin won by last eliminating The Rock, including an appearance by Terry Funk as Chainsaw Charlie.

“We will talk about Terry Funk coming out of a box, which is a fun story,” said Thompson. “The ‘Three Faces of Foley’ are all in the Rumble, and we’ve seen better days but this is near the end for the Legion of Doom. The New Age Outlaws are on the upswing, and there was almost a UFC fight with Ken Shamrock, but the big story is dissecting the Shawn Michaels injury.”

Michaels suffered a back injury in his Royal Rumble casket match against The Undertaker that helped lead to retirement only a few months later.

“Shawn was pretty difficult to deal with, including starting riots at house shows in Arkansas and Memphis, and we cover those riots, really for the first time, where tear gas was used at WWE house shows. A lot of people, Jim Cornette included, point the blame at Shawn Michaels, and we talk about that.”

Thompson and Prichard also discuss whether Tyson was ever slated to wrestle Austin, as well as all angles of the Rumble itself.

“We’ll also talk about why Crush left the company, and I’m not sure that story has ever been told,” said Thompson. “There are so many angles to explore for the 1998 Royal Rumble.”

Thompson and Prichard are on the road for a live show with Eric Bischoff at the Barclays Center following Friday’s Brooklyn Nets-Miami Heat game. Thompson, who has sparred on social media in the past with Bischoff, promised that he will not hold back when dissecting and analyzing the “Monday Night Wars.”

“Bischoff is not ready for Conrad Thompson, and this is not going to go the way he expects it to,” said Thompson. “We’re going to talk about the ‘Monday Night Wars’ in a big way, where Bruce has some strong opinions, Eric has some strong opinions, and I’ll be there with facts in hand to call bulls--- on all of it.”

Tweet of the Week

Only in wrestling.

Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.

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