'Raw Live' returns to Albany

Photo by Avan Clark

Photo by Avan Clark

ALBANY -- Southwest Georgians have one final time to see World Wrestling Entertainment in person this year, as "Raw Live" readies to smack down on the Good Life City Saturday night.

WWE last came to Albany in March. But according to Mark Henry, aka "The World's Strongest Man," Saturday's edition of "Raw Live" will have wrestling fans on the edge of their seats.

"You're going to see the full version of our show," said Henry, who stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 392 pounds.

Saturday's main event will feature Triple H taking on the Big Show.

"It hardly gets bigger than that," Henry said.

Plus, Henry and MVP will go up against Legacy, otherwise known as Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase.

"We're definitely looking forward to getting our hands on these guys," Henry said.

He explained that the match will be half of a "Fatal Four-Way of U.S. Championships."

The other half is a three-way brawl among Evan Bourne, the Miz and Jack Swagger.

If that's not enough, the ladies will also be represented this weekend with a "six-woman tag team match," according to Henry.

The match will feature Melina, Kelly Kelly and Gail Kim taking on Maryse, Alicia Fox and Jillian Hall.

"It's going to be a hot little show," Henry said.

Recently Henry and the WWE took their show to Iraq to entertain U.S. military troops.

"It was spectacular," Henry said.

Henry and his cohorts traveled to four bases and performed for each one.

"We did a tribute show," he said. "That'll be televised."

It was a busy trip for Henry.

"We did a lot of running around," he said of the trek from one base to another.

But it was an experience Henry wouldn't mind reliving.

"I plan on doing it again," he said.

As for this weekend's visit to Albany, it won't be Henry's introduction to the Good Life City.

"I've been to Albany many times," he said.

Henry has been with the WWE for 13 years. And in that time, he's put in a lot of work.

"We make it look easy," he said. "But it takes years and years of training."

In that time, he's done a lot of touring.

"We're on the road four days a week all year," Henry said.

That's after shooting "Smackdown" on Monday, RAW and Extreme Championship Wrestling, which airs live, on Tuesday.

Spending so much time on the road puts Henry in constant contact with fans all over the country.

"It's good and it's bad," he said of encounters with fans. "Sometimes they're very respectful."

Often fans just want a hug, to shake his hand or have their picture taken with Henry.

Then there are those encounters that the wrestler doesn't enjoy.

"Others (fans) want to put their hands on you or try to take you on," he said. "I've lashed out at a lot of people."

But that doesn't deter Henry from performing with World Wrestling Entertainment. He started with the organization in 1996, after making the leap from competitive weightlifting.

"I only competed for 10 years of my life," he recalled.

But in that time, he competed in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona and took gold, silver and bronze medals in the Pan American Games in 1995 and won the World's Strongest Man title at the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic in 2002.

According to Henry, it was always obvious that weight lifting and wrestling were in his future.

"As a kid, I was always pretty strong," said Henry, who hails from Silsbee, Texas. "It was apparent early that I would become what I became."

"Raw Live" kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Albany Civic Center. Tickets are $15-$50 and are available at the Civic Center Box office or through TicketMaster.