Kane has been a hot topic in today’s WWE, but not for the greatest of reasons. Once a ruthless, fearless, and fearsome competitor, Kane has been on the receiving end of the WWE Universe’s constant stick. But why? Let’s delve hell-deep into the career of ‘The Big Red Machine’.
Glenn Jacobs made his debut as Kane in the WWE in 1997 (he had portrayed several other gimmicks before). His arrival was foretold by Paul Bearer, who warned The Undertaker that his half-brother was coming to challenge him. Bearer was right, as Kane interrupted the very first ‘Hell in a Cell’ match to date, involving the ‘Heartbreak Kid’ Shawn Michaels, and Taker himself at the ‘Badd Blood: In Your House’ pay-per-view. Kane cost The Undertaker the match by delivering a Tombstone Piledriver to him, sending shock-waves throughout the live audience and those watching around the world.
At this point, Kane had everything going for him. He was a huge physical specimen, and had an incredible back-story, as revealed by Paul Bearer and The Undertaker in the weeks prior to the pay-per-view. What’s more, Kane eliminated one of the WWE’s most dominating competitors, and truly let his actions speak louder than any words could. In fact, for much of Kane’s early career, he was a mute – voiceless. To top it all off, Kane’s attire consisted of one of the most legendary wrestling costumes to date. He wore a red and black outfit that covered most of his body, had long, streaky hair, and wore a mask that concealed his face. To top this monstrous look off, he had a white contact lens in one eye, truly making him look like a menacing freak of nature. This complied with Kane’s back-story, as this attire was worn to cover his scars from the fire of his burnt-down home, as well as his identity. So yes, Kane was voiceless, AND faceless. This added to Kane’s mysterious persona – nobody knew what he looked like or was thinking. How many wrestlers, both voiceless and faceless, can you think of who have made such an impact in pro wrestling? Year by year, his attire continued to evolve, from removing one full sleeve to reveal a beast of an arm, to inverting his colours, making him look slick as well as deadly.
Kane continued to assert his dominance and relevance by continuing to feud with The Undertaker, and helped create some of WWE’s most memorable moments. These include putting The Undertaker into a casket and setting it on fire, as well as the epic Inferno match between the two. ‘The Big Red Machine’ quickly made his way to the top-tier, and even defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin for the WWE Championship at the ‘King of the Ring’ pay-per-view in 1998 (although he lost it back to him the next night on RAW). However, his success wasn’t short-lived, as he and Mankind formed a partnership and won the Tag-Team Championships twice.
It wasn’t long before we got to hear Kane speak, well, kind of. After teaming with X-Pac and even acquiring Tori as his girlfriend, Kane used an electrolarynx to aid him with his speech. In fact, his first spoken words on WWE television were “suck it”, a catchphrase made famous by D-Generation X. Kane evolved further, and started speaking unassisted. It could be argued that this took a lot away from Kane’s mysterious and dark nature, however, it finally gave us more depth into the character of WWE’s monster. It also made for some entertaining and comedic moments, as Kane would often surprise the locker-room as well as the audience (see here). Even if Kane’s character was slightly uplifted, his dominance and destruction in the ring continued. He became the record-holder of the Royal Rumble by eliminating a total of 11 men, only to be runner-up as he was then eliminated by Stone Cold Steve Austin. His record has only just been beaten by Roman Reigns, who eliminated 12 men at this year’s Royal Rumble.
A few years later, Kane’s inner-demon became evermore apparent. Kane fought a match against Triple H where the stipulation had him remove his mask if he lost. Thanks to the Evolution members, Kane lost the match and removed his mask for the first time on WWE television. It was a moment that every wrestling fan was waiting for for years. It disappointed some, but like him talking for the first time, allowed a lot more room for his character to expand and evolve. His unmasking caused him to become emotionally unstable, and he displayed these acts by attacking Jim Ross in an interview, and even set him on fire. He then went one step further and attacked Linda McMahon that same night.
After his unmasking, Kane was involved in several story-lines, some involving championships and some not. His most notable story-lines of this era was versing a returning Undertaker at WrestleMania XX (whom Kane helped Vince McMahon bury previously at Survivor Series), and impregnating Lita. However, Kane would not win another title until 2005 where he and The Big Show acquired the World Tag Team Championships. This was soon lost, and Kane began to lose several matches after this reign. Before Kane’s relevance and fear-factor could be distinguished, his next most relevant story-line helped rekindle his dark side. It was about the date May 19th, where Kane heard voices about this eerie day on a weekly basis. It was soon revealed that this was the day that Kane’s mother and adopted family were killed in a fire. The man behind the voice was an imposter Kane, which the real Kane eventually disposed of.
Kane continued his WWE career by losing more matches, and eventually got drafted to SmackDown where he reunited with The Undertaker, reforming The Brothers of Destruction. Kane’s dominance seemed to have been reignited, and his next most significant career highlight came at WrestleMania XXIV, where he won a battle royal to earn a chance to win the ECW Championship against Chavo Guerrero, which he did. As predicted, this reign did not last long.
Forward several years, and Kane did not see much luck for a while. He was involved in pointless, sporadic matches, and did not succeed in many championship or Money in the Bank ventures. However, he eventually became the World Heavyweight Champion after finally winning a Money in the Bank ladder match (this was his fourth participation) and cashing-in the contract on Rey Mysterio that same night. Kane held onto the title for a while, and successfully defended it against Rey Mysterio and The Undertaker on several occasions and stipulations. At long last, we got to see how Kane should have been booked – dominant, and actually winning and holding onto championships. It was a good era for wrestling fans who knew how under-utilised Kane was. Eventually, Kane lost the title to Edge, but his first healthy reign as champion was long overdue, and we were happy we received it.
Several years down the line, Kane again became lost in pointless match-ups and story-lines that did not effectively deem him the monster he was for so many years. Kane needed to be revived, and this came in late 2011 where Kane returned from an injury, wearing a mask as he previously did for the majority of his wrestling career. The mask was different, but still gave him a menacing look he lost for so many years. He also wore a metallic mask which was inspired by a post-mortem human body after an autopsy, giving the fans the idea that Kane was truly resurrected. Unfortunately, this was short-lived, as even though Kane performed some disastrous acts – such as severely attacking Zack Ryder – he ultimately lost in both his main feuds with John Cena and Randy Orton.
What took place in the later months was either loved or hated by the WWE Universe. Following his defeat to Daniel Bryan at SummerSlam, Kane and Bryan were enrolled into anger management classes. While some of the segments were considered quite entertaining, Kane’s devilish days were well and truly over. The pair were a comedic duo, and even took part in events such as a ‘Hug it Out’ match. However, Kane and Bryan became the new Tag-Team Champions, and they became known as ‘Team Hell No’ thanks to a Twitter poll. Their reign as champions lasted for 245 days, a considerably long time – especially for the career of Kane.
Kane returned after a two-month hiatus from being attacked by The Wyatt Family, but under a new character we had never seen him exhibit before. Kane pledged his allegiance to The Authority, and handed-in his mask. Unlike his Corporation days, Kane underwent a character change and was now the ‘Director of Operations’. He wore a suit and tie on a weekly basis, and it was safe to say that if Team Hell No didn’t end Kane’s reputation as a fierce and frightening competitor, this certainly did. Thankfully, Kane soon wore his mask again as Stephanie McMahon told Kane to become the devil that he always was, due to his defeat against The Shield at WrestleMania XXX. However (as predicted), Kane lost his first title match against Daniel Bryan at Extreme Rules.
Funnily enough, this article commenced before the events of Kane brutally assaulting Daniel Bryan on the following episode of RAW. After these events, I began wondering whether everything I wanted to talk about had just been disproved/rectified. Flashbacks of Kane from his early days resulted from these disastrous actions. However, the years of WWE belittling Kane should have taught me otherwise, as Kane went back to being a simple pawn for a higher entity (The Authority). Yes, he’s recently been involved in main event matches, but not for his own gain. Hell, he recently ensured Seth Rollins’ victory in the first Money in the Bank ladder match of the evening, and then dedicated his participation in the second ladder match by being devoted to Randy Orton – even though he could have had the gold to himself! His purpose is to serve, and to make matters worse, he’s been a jobber for several years now. Yes, having younger talent going ‘over’ legends makes sense for the push, however this doesn’t work with Kane. Chris Jericho is a great example. You could say that he’s a jobber (his segments with CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler indicate this), yet him losing to the opposition does two things. It majorly pushes the winning man, yet it doesn’t take away Y2J’s status as a veteran and worthy competitor. Why? Because Jericho hasn’t been under-utilised/undervalued for the majority of his career, none at all if any. Kane has, meaning that any chance of him becoming a fierce entity again is at best, slim. His persona as a monstrous force to be feared has become dampened by the various roles he’s been degraded in.
All in all, it can be said that although the memory of the character Kane will remain in fans’ hearts for eternity, we can agree that he could have been so much more. Yes he’s held several titles. Yes he’s been a dominant force in his own rights. And yes, there have been sources stating that Kane is very humble and often likes to put other people over. But for a character of his stature and status, he has only ever had one relevant reign as champion, and he’s been used as a pawn/bodyguard for most of his career. WWE’s recent usage of Kane has hindered his appeal – he doesn’t seem all that threatening after his entrance and pyrotechnics igniting the ring-posts. WWE became lazy with him, ultimately leading to his under-utilised character, and it’s a shame that it’s too late to turn things around. You could even go as far to say that if he wasn’t portrayed as The Undertaker’s ‘brother’, his overall success may have been further minimised. Nevertheless, his Attitude Era days will never be forgotten, and Glenn Jacobs has been an underrated credit to the world of professional wrestling.
What do you think? Are you happy with how Kane’s career has unfolded, or do you agree that he should’ve become more? Have your say by leaving a comment!
Please note that these images are each owned by their respective owners, I do not own any of them. No copyright infringement is intended.
Great look into the spiralling and almost messy rollercoaster of a career, nice work. I couldn’t believe it when “Corporate Kane” flashed his suit and tie to the world, I genuinely felt embarrassed for him. It may be too late to make him the true star he used to be, but could there be anyway that the WWE could save this guy’s career and make the newer/current fans love him the way veteran fans do?