In the world of professional wrestling, the heavyweights battle not only in the ring, but also on the bench! Check out this legendary throwback video below.
On the March 29th, 2013 episode of SmackDown, Mark Henry, the 2002 World’s Strongest Man, battled “The Big Guy” Ryback in a bench press competition to end the debate of who the stronger man was leading up to their match at WrestleMania 29 a week later. The challenge was which wrestler could perform the most reps at 225 lbs (similar to the NFL combine test).
Here’s the throwback clip of the epic showdown from World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) YouTube channel:
[Watch Larry Wheels bench press 225 lbs for 70 reps!]
Mark Henry enters the stage where Ryback currently stands alongside a bench and loaded barbell. The tension is immediately high. Booker T, then General Manager of SmackDown, stepped between the two gargantuan men and threatened that if either breaks the “no contact” clause of their contracts, they will be banned from WrestleMania.
“Can you dig that?”
Theodore “Teddy” Long, former SmackDown GM turned advisor to Booker T, interrupts to inform the crowd that Mark Henry lost the coin flip backstage and would bench first. Henry lumbered to the bench.
“The current world record is 51 reps!”
Shouted Booker T, as the crowd in Hershey, PA geared up for the strongman clash. Henry proceeded to break the stated record after completing 53 reps and narrowly missing a 54th. Henry, feeling the rush of adrenaline, got up in Ryback’s face and yelled:
“That’s what I do!”
Booker T then invited Ryback to the bench.
Ryback was formerly nicknamed “Silverback” for the sheer size of his physique and quickly pumped out a tying 53rd rep.
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#throwbackthursday with @wwebige one of my favorite big guys in wrestling. It’s too bad we never really had any meaningful long programs, we always worked well together. The gorilla press to me is the staple of being a true power wrestler and power is the one thing in pro wrestling that cannot be worked. You either have it or you don’t. Btw this shot has two of the strongest guys in wrestling history with @themarkhenry and @wwebige 😲 @feedmemorenutrition @conversationwiththebigguy #FeedMeMore
Just when it looked as though Ryback would win the challenge by locking out a 54th rep, Henry shoved the referee out of the way and pushed the barbell down on Ryback. Mind you, Henry was billed at 399lbs. Henry used the barbell to crush Ryback until he was able to tip the barbell causing the weight plates to slide off (obviously staged). The barbell then flung across the stage.
After outrage by Booker T, Long, and the referee, Henry took his leave while Ryback coughed profusely on the ground.
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Henry would go on to defeat Ryback in 8 minutes and 3 seconds at WrestleMania 29 held at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey one week later.
Featured image from Ryback’s Instagram page: @thebigguyryback22