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WRESTLING COLUMNS

The History of Kane: Part 2
(Kane's Breakout)

May 11, 2006 by Sev M.


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Even as I write the column, new developments, rumours and promise swirl around Kane at present. Only time will tell if even now he gets his long deserved push, or any elevation will be squashed and he gets spontaneously buried again. I hope the turn will actually lead Kane to gold fairly soon rather than just more stupid stories, like so often before. I'm slightly pessimistic, but we'll just wait and see. With Kane's new WWE movie coming out and some new additions to Kane's sections on their website, perhaps it will really be a new dawn for him.

This section of the article deals with the aftermath of Kane's arrival and his character's adjustment fully into the company. This was also when Kane would receive his first taste of the WWE gold. Unfortunately by this point my interest in the WWF had diminished, as had my ability to view it, so if there are any errors in this column it will probably be because I did not witness all of this period live as it happened. I have attempted to ensure my research was thorough, however.

For the longest time, part of Kane's biography on WWE.com was "Once a man of no emotion, Kane has somewhat broken out of his shell." In a sense, that is what following couple of years were for him - he broke out of his shell. It also proved once and for all that this was Glen Jacobs' breakout role and Kane was here to stay.

Kane's defeats at the hands of his brother had shown he was no longer literally invincible. Obviously if he was going to be a long term part of the WWF, he'd have to fit in with the rest of the roster. He would remain a "monster" archetype, only now he was no longer as impervious to pain. All of this was, of course, understandable and necessary. And apparently, Paul Bearer had revealed earlier that Taker and Kane were only half brothers. Paul Bearer had supposedly had an affair with the Undertaker's mother and he was in fact, the father of Kane. The resemblance is uncanny, I know. Does this mean the brothers must have inherited mother's build and physique"

Kane's monster status gave him a lot of momentum and by the 1998 "King of Ring" he earned his first shot at the WWF Title in a First Blood match. It was the main event of the night, immediately following the infamous Hell in a Cell in which the Undertaker and Mick Foley set some new records in stunt brutality. In the end it was Kane who was victorious over Stone Cold Steve Austin, and thus won his first World Wrestling Federation Championship (and only one to date) after only a few months. But it wasn't really as glorious as it may sound on paper. It happened in a rather confusing moment where the Undertaker ran down and accidentally nailed Austin with a chair causing intense bleeding. The referee saw this a few moments later and rang the bell which resulted in Kane winning the fall. Kane didn't actually look to be in control at the time. In fact, as Howard Finkel announced Kane as the "NEW World Wrestling Federation Champion" and the eerie music began to sound, Kane was laying flat on his back in the middle of the ring, motionless... hardly a resounding victory. The match itself wasn't too bad: Kane fought the injured Rattlesnake in and around the ring, when the cell lowered; they took advantage of that too. The monster came off looking at least competent, despite the furious desperation that Stone Cold showed while defending. Kane had done the impressive feat of winning the greatest prize in Sports Entertainment in only months - one of the fastest ever ascensions to the top. Unfortunately for the new champ, the very next night on RAW he lost the title belt back to Stone Cold. For a guy who had just recently been the biggest monster ever and had kicked out of multiple tombstones at Wrestlemania, falling to one Stone Cold Stunner seemed strangely weak. On the bright side, Kane had forever reached the ranks of "World Champions" and now that he had a taste of the gold, Kane would chase after the coveted prize many times in the future, elevating him further.

By this time Kane had formed a psychotic tag team with Mankind (lead by Paul Bearer) and they seemed to be feuding collectively with the reluctant pairing of faces, Stone Cold and the Undertaker. Kane and Mankind would soon become the WWF Tag Team Champions, which they exchanged with Austin and Taker a couple times over the next months. Then suddenly Kane turned on his partner and his "father" joining his "brother" to form a dominant, albeit short lasting, duo. Kane no showed a title defense against the New Age Outlaws at Summerslam which eventuated in Mick Foley being unable to retain the Tag Titles by himself. Kane and the Undertaker then defeated Stone Cold in a Triple Threat/Handicap match at "Breakdown" (a September PPV) to end Austin's second reign, but since they had both pinned him simultaneously, the WWF Title was vacated. Mr. McMahon had the two brothers battle it out for the vacated title 1 month later at "Judgment Day". Yet, even in a situation like that, WWF Creative managed to ensure neither of them ended up as champion. Special referee Stone Cold counted them both down for 10, and declared himself the champ - classic Austin. This match featured Paul Bearer striking Kane with a chair and reuniting with the Undertaker in what would eventually form the Ministry of Darkness. In the following tournament to decide a champion, neither brother ended up winning. Undertaker beat Kane in Round 1, but then Kane got Taker disqualified against the Rock in the next. Perhaps you can see a pattern here"

As I said, by this time I had lost touch with the world of wrestling, so my first hand information might be not as extensive. Essentially, from here on, Kane began to show a little more personality; probably to keep him interesting. He would still end up fighting the Undertaker many times: he attacked Taker at the December PPV (Rock Bottom) allowing Stone Cold Steve Austin the bury him alive. Basically alone, Kane seemed lost at first but ended up being forced to join Mr. McMahon's Corporation (in order to avoid be sent back to the asylum that he was supposedly in before he began wrestling), where he and Chyna would be curious allies. She was the only one who would stand up for him when subjected to humiliating abuse from the higher ups of The Corporation. For a time as Vince's stable feuded with DX, Kane had a number of matches against Triple H and X-Pac. Kane's affiliation with Chyna added a new side to him. At one point he was shown to be very distraught when he accidentally hurled a fireball at her. Interestingly, despite being a heel feuding against a popular superstar like Triple H, Kane would sometimes dominate like a face; perhaps hinting of the future. It's not often you see a heel hit a double clothesline on two faces, which he did to X-Pac and Triple H in a tag team match where he and Chyna aided Shane McMahon in winning X-Pac's European Championship. At Wrestlemania 15, Kane squared of against Triple H, in what would be the first of many battles over the years. The match ended, perhaps unsatisfying, in a DQ victory for Kane when Chyna interfered, turning on Kane and rejoining Triple H... only for them to both ally themselves with the Corporation later in the night. As HHH left his old friends in De-Generation X and became a major heel, Kane turned face. I believe this was a long time coming: Kane's gimmick was way over since his feud with the Undertaker and he had actually received face pops as early as Wrestlemania XIV when he tombstoned Pete Rose and even at times like the Royal Rumble before that. And soon he received another intriguing character development.

The Big Red Monster joined up with X-Pac of all people (who had also stood up for him once) and they formed an extremely unusual team. While that might initially look like a horrible miss match of styles, they apparently managed to work well together. During this period, X-Pac became Kane's "new best friend" and together they proved to be a very successful tag team. Over time they would develop a fascinating bond: X-Pac would do his best to stand up to many of the "heavy hitters" and Kane would help his "little buddy" whenever the odds were stacked against the underdog. They would wage a number of battles against former D-X member Chyna, Triple H, or Road Dogg. Also they fought numerous others, including The Acolytes (Faarooq and Bradshaw) and the team of Owen Hart and Jeff Jarrett. Not long later, Kane and X-Pac won the Tag Team Champions from the latter. They reigned for a not insignificant length of two months before being dethroned by the Acolytes. It would be relatively soon before they defeated Bradshaw and Faarooq to regain the gold, but were immediately thrown into a feud with the giants of Undertaker and the Big Show. At Summerslam '99, despite the champions' efforts, they were defeated when X-Pac was beaten down and pinned. It was their last reign together but the two would continue to team up over the following weeks and months, fighting old enemies such as the Acolytes again. Kane and his unlikely ally had shown a unique kin-ship, and we really got to see a different, emotional side of Kane. In fact, Kane even began dating and got a girlfriend - Tori. This was a far cry from the mostly impassive force that we witnessed when Kane debuted. During his tenure teaming with X-Pac, Kane's singles career wasn't exactly non-existent. After the WWF title was vacated in September of 1999, Kane took part in the "6 Pack Challenge" in the main event of "Unforgiven" to crown a new champion. The rather unique rules of the match were that two people had to be in the ring and could tag out to any of the other four people at any time; the first to score a pinfall or submission would become the new WWF Heavyweight Champion. In that match; against Mankind, The Rock, Triple H, Big Show and the British Bulldog; I must say Kane looked very impressive. The title was clearly show to be greatly motivating everyone in that match. Despite perhaps the strongest performance in the contest, he was not the victor in the end; that came Triple H won a pinfall on the Rock. Kane and X-Pac eventually began to have problems. Dissention sprang up and X-Pac began to become wary of Kane after so many of his friends had turned their back on him, especially in light of the Undertaker offering to reunite with Kane. Ultimately however, Kane would remain true to his friend, siding with the cruiserweight over his older brother. But soon after that Triple H reformed De-Generation X and it was X-Pac who turned on Kane! Stunned and hurt by the betrayal of his best friend, Kane began what would become a fairly long rivalry with X-Pac. And from that point we got to see a VERY angry Kane. He was hungry for revenge. He won an inconclusive DQ victory over X-Pac at "Survivor Series" after a DX ambush, which would lead to a rematch at "Armageddon", inside a steel cage. It was said to be a short but adequate match-up that ended with Kane nailing a tombstone on his opponent for the win. Although, the bout did see Kane hit a flying clothesline on his former partner form the top of the cage! That's pretty darn impressive. As the year neared to a close, Kane's angles would usually involve his onscreen girlfriend. Oftentimes he would brutally attack anyone either Tori or Kane would perceive to harass her, such as the likes of Test or Viscera. X-Pac and DX would also attempt strike at Kane through his vulnerability, her. Kane had developed quite a lot since his inception, but I believe it was the following year when he really came into his own as a superstar.

Even in the earlier stages of his transitional career, it was clear that Kane had the marks of greatness in him. Demonstrating some extraordinary physical moves and gaining audience cheers just by entering would really signify his potential. In many ways his early career paralleled the Undertaker's. He was a hit with the fans, had athleticism and power, even from an early stage. And he would only improve in time. There was the question of whether he would be in the Deadman's shadow though. Kane's gimmick was good, but always could be somehow traced back to the Undertaker's. It wasn't a copy, but it was unmistakably similar. Their move set also was also very alike; these weren't career crippling problems in my mind, as they were still very good in their own right. In fact, eventually some trademark Taker moves would become more a signature of Kane. He also made some efforts to branch out, I will give him that, so he became somewhat differentiated and it's not like Undertaker had a monopoly on that whole style anyways. Kane is primarily a brawler and a very good one too, but he was also so much more; which is what in my opinion places him a notch above so many who fit in that style today. Nevertheless, comparisons to the Undertaker on some level were unavoidable. One could argue this either helped or hurt his career. Perhaps fans would just simply seem him as a pale copy of the Undertaker, who has had, lets face it, far more long term success with the wrestling industry. On the other hand, perhaps being compared to such a popular figure would just be a boost, and sometimes I think Kane would remind us in of some of our favourite things about the Deadman in a different package. In any case, I definitely don't believe either scenario would have been the sole reason for making or breaking Kane's career, it was just something that would hang over him. I feel that the following years to come afterward were what really defined the Kane we've come to know and exemplified his place among the superstars of the WWF/E. By this point he had received a few title shots here and there against Triple H or Big Show, but he didn't win, and was rarely ever really in the big championship races like Rock and Austin were. Kane had been a mysterious enigmatic monster that the fans really connected with and things clearly seemed to be looking up. Slowly but surely Kane would evolve even more. It was in 2000 and beyond I felt he had the greatest opportunities to shine... and so he did. The upcoming "era" in which I saw Kane is what I believe was his best performances. Sadly, after that, opportunities were squandered.

To be continued...

by Sev M...


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