#TheNationWeek: Watch and Learn – Ryback, Mark Henry & Andre the Giant

Strongman

It’s #TheNationWeek at Juice Make Sugar, and we’ve decided to take a look at some young performers that reminds us of members of the stable that have come and gone before them, each of these guys has something to learn, and room to grow. For Mark Henry, “The Big Guy” Ryback is looking to work his way down the same path that The World’s Strongest Man and others before him have taken: the “strong man”.  Thankfully, we’re here to help them same way we would any other athlete: give him tape He Should Watch. And loving our readers like we do, we have some tape You Should Watch of the work that reminds us of his because what’s more fun than old wrestling videos? 

He Should Watch

There are a lot of folks who Ryback has “borrowed” from. Some of this is intentional — which apparently put him in the “doghouse” — and some of it is just genetic happenstance. But, as wrestling is wont to do, “genetic happenstance” mutates in meaning from “unavoidable chemical composition” to “gimmick”. Which, in the case of former Nation of Domination member Mark Henry and Ryback is, of course, “old time strong man”.

While Damien may have the surname, Ryback and Henry come from the mold of Eugen Sandow, the man for whom the Mr. Olympia bodybuilding trophy is named. Like the promoter Billy before them, both understand the legacy that strong men have not just in the wrestling , but their carnival cousin: vaudeville.

Both used spectacle to enhance the product’s appeal, with feats of strength frequently the main attraction for travelling carnival sideshows. The same goes for wrestling, especially in the hyper-muscular/masculine world of Vince McMahon.

And since reality is a relative term in the WWE, they can get away with fantastical concepts and evidence of their performer’s strength. While Mark Henry is very legitimately one of the strongest people who has ever lived, Ryback just has to look the part. He doesn’t have to actually be able to move trucks, in the same way Mark Henry doesn’t have to be able. He just has to look as good as Henry does pretending to:

When fantastical feats of strength are matched with *actual* feats of strength, like World Strongest Slams or Shellshocks on people the size of the Big Show, it creates the illusion of supernatural strength, which, for guys like Henry and Ryback, is the entire point.

You Should Watch

While guys like Henry seem born the way they make themselves out to be, men who look like Mark, but are the size of Ryback have to channel their genetic gifts in a way that means they can never become the spectacle of those a step above Henry — the true Giants — can be. There is obvious no better example of this than the greatest Giant, Andre.

Andre the Giant, even more so than Hulk Hogan, was the WWE’s truly transcendent national star, which is why his heel turn still overshadows Hogan’s nearly ten years later because watching him was worth the price of admission itself.

Even wrestlers the size of King Kong Bundy and Bam Bam Bigelow looked like “vanilla midgets” next to Andre.

And no matter how hard he tries, how many sets he does for his traps, how many cows he eats whole, Ryback will never be able to reach the magic and spectacle of Andre the Giant, but it’s going to to be fun to watch him try.

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