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WRESTLING COLUMNS

The History of Kane: Part 3
(The Golden Age of Kane)

June 7, 2006 by Sev M.


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Oh my... Kane vs. Kane!" What the hell!" And just in time for the column. Personally, I was torn between awe and disgust. Kane's old theme is awesome, but tempered by the fact that an almost pathetic fake Kane is right next to the real one. It does bring up an interesting point though. I find Kane to be supremely cooler with his mask. It's a really good concept but it can only take one so far. In reality it's the man that makes the mask not the other way around. Glen Jacobs is the heart of Kane, and provides that unique something for the role only he can truly play. I don't know how this will all end, but I fear all they'll do is ruin the memory of some great history, ironically part of which is the very subject of this article.

This next section is one of my favourite parts of Kane's career. It was when he experienced his highest sustained status as a singles superstar. And was still the dominant monster we all came to know and love. As I said, my knowledge of WWF had faded away for the last few years, so when I began watching again it was strange seeing how much had changed. I could go on an amusing tangent about exactly what, but I'll let you do the math: I mostly lost touch before WrestleMania 14, and caught up again around No Way Out 2000. Suffice to say I felt like I'd been frozen in time and woke up in a bizzaro future. In fact Kane, with his menacing stride and mysterious control over pyrotechnics, was one of the few things I still fully recognized.

I noticed Kane had altered his theme music slightly, forgoing the initial dark silence and organ music in favour of a big explosion going straight into the "angry" part of it. That gave him the perfect surprise entrance, ideal for a sudden huge pop. Because of this, he was easily perhaps the most entertaining guy to watch appear. It should be noted that despite not having the most overt personality Kane was one of the WWF's top faces, behind only the Rock and the semi-retired Mick Foley. The year 2000 was a positive one for Kane as he really became a more regular, yet sufficiently monstrous, title contender and essentially came into his own. His moniker, the "Big Red Machine" seemed fitting because he struck me as just that - a fighting machine.

When the new year came around, Kane was still feuding with X-Pac and Co. Kane was also one of the 3 favourites for the Royal Rumble along with The Rock and The Big Show. When it came down to it, he was in the final four with them, before he was eliminated by his friend turned nemesis. Soon Kane was struck by another painful betrayal when Tori left him for X-Pac and joined D-X. When I (re)started seeing WWF TV, Kane was engrossed in his feud with them both, and was he EVER pissed. Kane was dedicated to revenge and attacked them at every chance. He was rejoined by Paul Bearer who'd quietly returned to help him through this phase. He was generally cheering Kane on whenever he stalked someone to the ring or tombstoned some sap.

During No Way Out X-Pac beat Kane in no holds barred match via interference, but Kane did gain some revenge on Tori that night when he hit his ex with a vicious Tombstone. His battle with D-X continued: What clued me was that whenever X-Pac would have a match; the contestants would fight for a while before suddenly... "BOOM!" Fire exploded around the ring as Kane came down chasing after X-Pac. His former friend would sometimes try to mount some offence but get flattened or beaten about the ring. Kane destroyed everyone in the ring as X-Pac and Tori fled. Often they would escape, but not always; after all, Tori did gain the nickname: "Tombstone Tori." THIS was a monster. As much as I enjoyed the Rock's and struggle for WWF title against the machinations of the growing McMahon-Helmsly Alliance, my favourite parts of the shows were watching Kane interfere in matches and crush his enemies. A prime example: one match where D-X (Road Dogg and X-Pac) wrestled the Dudley Boys. During the bout, Kane classically interrupted and marched down to the ring, shrugged off a pitiful assault by X-Pac and hit an uppercut that sent him flying! He chokeslamed Road Dogg, and then both Dudleys in succession. They weren't part of all this, but he didn't care. He just caused destruction. It was magnificent really. The next show, he got put in a handicap match against the Dudley Boys, and although they beat on him for a while the match ended with Kane chokeslaming D-Von through a table. Kane got DQ'ed, but so what" He'd proved his point. He made that clear when he set turnbuckles "on fire" after Bubba tried to raise D-Von's limp hand up. Bubba ended up with a scared version of his famous table-trance look on his face. This was dominance - though not "invulnerable", Kane had this ass kicking edginess, which sometimes I feel is slightly lacking today.

Kane also interrupted the huge celebration by Triple H and his allies after Degeneration X helped Stephanie McMahon win the Women's Title. Being embroiled in a war against DX, Kane's path would sometimes cross their leader. Occasionally he'd also get in the face of the only superstar taller than him: Big Show. At times he and the other faces would find themselves temporarily on the same page during brawls with mutual enemies. This was all nice to see and Kane even got a quick WWF title shot before No Way Out, but his main focus was always X-Pac. I didn't mind, but there was this nagging in the back of my head. There were some bigger stars than Sean Waltman, didn't Kane deserve a little more than this"

Kane's rivalry with X-Pac came to a climax at WrestleMania 2000 (16), when he and Rikishi had a tag team match against X-Pac and Road Dogg. Exactly why is a bit of a curiosity. I suppose since Road Dogg was often with X-Pac during his confrontations with Kane, he became more involved; ergo Kane got a partner too. Apparently, though their interaction was rather minimal, Rikishi was their choice. They had a match against each other before WrestleMania which ended with an X-Pac and Road Dogg run in, I guess that is what helped them "bond". It seemed just thrown together and Kane and Rikishi never really became a tag team afterwards. When WrestleMania took place Kane and Rikishi were victorious and Kane ended the rivalry on a high. Soon afterward however, Kane was handcuffed to the ring post and Bull Buchanan "shattered" his hand with a chair, putting him out of action. Though, Kane later beat him in a low key match at Insurrextion.

I kept on watching without him. I still thought it was great TV. All the McMahons (except Linda) put their differences aside and joined Steph and Triple H to form the "McMahon-Helmsly Regime," one of the greatest heel stables ever. Rock and HHH (with a small army of henchman) fought a very memorable rivalry back and forth over the next couple of months, which saw Rock win the WWF title at Backlash. They kept at it through to Judgment Day. I really dug the whole "faces battling against the Regime" storyline, but I began to miss the hellfire and brimstone. More so when I noticed a Judgement Day promo had what sounded somewhat like Kane's music. After Judgement Day had come and gone and Triple H had regained the title when the Undertaker made his stunning re-debut as the American Badass, I was really enjoying the product... but what came next was simply amazing. Unable to celebrate their victory at the PPV due to the torment of a vengeful Rock and a returning Undertaker, the Regime later tried to safeguard HHH's by putting the two in a No. 1 Contenders match on an episode of RAW with a huge posse of lumberjacks surrounding them - their standard tactics. Rock and Undertaker didn't fight each other at all; they seemed to come to an instant understanding that it was better to fight the lumberjacks and dove into the outside. The crowd really got behind the two mega-faces at they fought off many times their number of heel superstars. But eventually the pack proved too great for them and the lumberjacks began to dominate. They proceed to beat down both of them pretty badly and Triple H symbolically hit them both with the title belt. Then, standing tall over their fallen enemies the Regime was about to raise their hands in victory when-

BOOOOOOOOOOOM!

Massive columns of fire exploded from the ring...creating shock and disbelief.

JR: IT'S KANE!
King: What!"
JR: IT'S THE BIG RED MACHINE! KANE'S BACK!"

This was probably my biggest mark out of all time. Kane strode down and annihilated everyone!

He took out 3 people foolishly charging him before he even got to the ring. He stepped over the ropes and absolutely cleaned house!

"Oh down goes Test...down goes X-Pac..." - JR

Kane hit them all with shot after shot and they fell like dominos. He then grabbed Test and nailed a monstrous chokeslam. Boot to Road Dogg, chokeslam to X-Pac, finally only HHH was left. Kane ducked under a last ditch cheap shot, caught him by the throat and gave him the biggest Chokeslam to Hell I'd ever seen. As the broken McMahon-Helmsly Regime fled, tail between their legs, Kane picked up the WWF Championship belt and gloriously raised it high in the air. By this time Rock and Undertaker had gotten back to their feet and were staring at him intently as Kane stood triumphant in the ring.

"The Rock and Undertaker want the WWF title, but so does....... THE BIG RED MACHINE!"

The words that JR yelled before RAW went off the air will stay in my mind forever. It was one of my favourite moments ever... simply awesome, and I think many would agree, since the audience sure went nuts.

On Smackdown! Kane still had Triple H's title in his possession. He appeared on TV with it and then did one of the most surprising things he'd ever done - he talked! Prior to this, Kane had hardly spoken at all, only a few lines with a mechanical speaking box. Now Kane had a voice! He could finally add to his character with dialogue of his own. Kane's voice was at the time extremely gruff. It may have been intended to be similar, but not identical, to his "half brother's" voice. It actually worked for him, but whatever the reason, he still spoke relatively rarely. You may have also noticed over the years Glen Jacobs used different versions of it. Anyway that night, after interfering in and squashing the participants of a tag title match, Kane cut his very first promo. It was not bad for his first ever one either. He talked about wanting the gold and concluded with:

"Triple... H...you may be... 'that damn good'...but I... am ...that ....damn....BAD!"

Finally he was back in the title picture. That show Kane fought Triple H in a match where if Kane won he would become the Number 1 Contender. From what I saw, Kane positively steamrollered him. He dominated most of the clash and finished it when he seized Triple H by the neck and planted him before Hunter could land a chair shot. After pinning the champion, Kane dropped the belt on his crumpled and still form, then walked away. This match had quite an affect on me. It is the main reason I can never ever see Kane as the Kayfabe underdog against Triple H, making his constant inability to defeat him years later to be ridiculous.

Now as storyline would have it, The Rock and Undertaker also won No. 1 Contenders matches. Eventually the dilemma of three contenders was solved by putting them in a 3 man tag match against HHH, Shane, and Vince McMahon at the King of the Ring - whoever scored the fall would be champion. Triple H seemed completely outmatched, but the situation left Kane, Undertaker and Rock as uneasy allies at best. Although united against the Regime, all were desperate to be the WWF Champion... so they came into conflict. In the end it was the Rock's night as he pinned Vince to win back the WWF title. After the King of the Ring, the Undertaker and Kane started working together while the Rock began defending his belt. The half brothers had a few matches against Edge and Christian, and almost become the new Tag Team Champions; but soon Kane turned heel when he chokeslamed Undertaker twice on RAW. This led to a fight 6 days later at Summerslam, which was really more of a short confrontation than an official match. Their latest battle was basically just two roughly equal monsters duking it out. There was no start bell, so it's often called a "no-contest", but really it was the Undertaker who won. He got about 60% of the offence and eventually ripped off Kane's mask, causing his younger brother to hastily retreat. I believe Summerslam was where Kane debuted some new ring-gear which he would wear pretty exclusively through to 2002.

Undertaker and Kane began coveting the belt again, which was still in the hands of the Rock. What followed was a quadruple sided quest for the WWF title between the two brothers, Chris Benoit and the champion: the Rock. All three challengers aimed to be the main contender. Commissioner Mick Foley began trying to devise a final solution, but first Kane got a title match on RAW. This was a big deal for Kane; he hadn't a singles shot for quite a while. All I saw was a relatively low quality video of the end, but I was still impressed: Rock and Kane slowly got to their feet as the JR and King brought the viewer up to speed.

"Now whaddaya gonna do Rock"" - Jerry Lawler

"The Rock cannot believe the fact that Kane kicked out of the Rock bottom! What's the Rock got to do to beat this monster"!" - JR

Kane knocked the Rock outside the ring and they brawled into the crowd. Then the Undertaker rode down to the ring on his bike and tussled with Kane. He chokeslamed the Big Red Machine, allowing the Rock to finally crawl over him with the cover. 1...2...NO! Kane wouldn't stay down!

"My God, this could be NIGHTMARE for the Rock!" - JR

Well Rock stalked him up and down where another Rock Bottom was enough. But the fact is: a face champion was unable to overcome the monster heel by himself. The crowd didn't seem to care much because Taker was a face too. At Unforgiven they all wrestled for the championship in a Fatal Fourway. Sometimes it looked like Taker and Kane were just there to add to the Rock-Benoit feud, and the Rock ultimately pinned him to retain. However, Taker and Kane came close to winning too so I'd say it was a good push experience for both. Following the match, Kane put Taker out of commission with another thunderous chokeslam.

Kane began a bitter feud with Chris Jericho; one which I think really helped Jericho's eventual transition into main events. This was actually a very intense grudge. Y2J was the face, but having drawn the wrath of the Big Red Machine we saw a much angrier side of him. We'd see him break out a chair and smash his opponents more often. Kane was brutal too; during a fight backstage he slammed Jericho into a glass window. The rivalry had started over "spilled tea", but developed into a mutual craze to destroy each other. Kane said he hated him because he was one of the "beautiful people". Whenever they met, Kane eagerly went after him and Jericho would more or less match his fury. Kane defeated Jericho at Survivor Series; but at Armageddon Chris Jericho went over in a Last Man Standing match by pinning Kane under some barrels.

As I said, the year went fairly well, especially considering his pushes. He had evolved more and even talked. He started doing promos by himself for the first time ever. After WrestleMania he began wrestling alone for an extended period: without a brother, father, partner, best friend or girlfriend to carry him. His mic skills could have taken him far too. Now granted, seeing Kane furiously declare "I am a MONSTER!" wasn't the anywhere close to the masterpieces The Rock or Jericho could put together, but I think there was a great potential that was never fully explored. I remember another one of his early promos he cut on the Rock. He started talking about people made fun of him when he was a child and he "HATED IT". Then said "But ya see, we all wear masks. And some masks take the shape of a handsome face with a raise eyebrow." He came off a flawless mix of crazy psycho and brooding monster, all while making a unique point about his particular opponent -the perfect recipe for future. It all should have been a stepping stone for further success, not the peak of his maintained status. Sadly for Kane, he always seemed to find himself just on the edge of history.

I thought I'd end by describing a match that exemplified this. In October of 2000 Kane received another title shot on Smackdown!; near the end of the Rock's 5 month reign. I didn't see this when it aired; I caught it on a "Best of Smackdown!" show late in the year. I saw the Rock come down, being his typical electrifying self. He stood on the corner and gave Kane is trademark "evil glare". Behind his impassive mask Kane stared right back. I don't remember every nuance of the match, bit I do remember being highly entertained. I saw Kane use his size advantage and overpower the Rock. I saw the Rock use his "babyface powers" to fight back. Rock hit a spine buster early and set up the People's Elbow. At exactly the right moment Kane sat up and the Rock ran right into a chokeslam, but escaped when he kicked Kane in the gut. At some point or other the ref was accidentally knocked out. As the fight wore on, Kane finally looked like he'd had enough. He angrily grabbed the Champion's throat and sent him for a ride. Commentators and crowd alike let out a collective gasp of surprise as Kane finished him off and hooked the leg for 3... But the referee was still so groggy that he was inching towards them to count them pin incredibly slowly. Even when he reached what looked like a perfect spot to start, he stupidly kept on crawling. Finally what seemed like eons, he began the slowest count I have ever seen. Even knowing that the Rock didn't loose the title back then, part of me screamed inside "COUNT! For the love of God! COUNT! Come on! Stupid!" Rock got a shoulder up a the last possible instant, and in that moment let me tell you, even with face covered, Kane's reaction made you truly believe that he felt the despair and frustration. This was the "agonizingly close" moment I alluded to in my first column. Kane would come close to the title many times, but none stick out so vividly as being literally a heartbeat away. Kane should've been WWF Champion right there! As was pointed out at the time, Kane had the Rock down for a count of 7 or 8. The match ended when Kane got a DQ win after Rikishi intervened. Kane left the ring to his music while pointing a figure accusingly his aggressors. Rocky, being the chivalrous champion that he was, didn't want to retain that way and began complaining to his fellow Samoan. Kane took advantage of the slight distraction and ran back into the ring. He knocked down Rikishi, but the Rock then punched him out of the ring... so it FELT like a Rock win. Kane didn't get another shot for ages.

While the "Golden Age of Kane" that I described didn't actually feature Kane winning any gold, it was effectively a showcase of Kane as he was meant to be. In my mind, it was these couple of years proved Kane was a great superstar. I hope the point I am trying to make is getting across. This is how Kane was once. This is how difficult to beat he was, this is how much of a threat he was to the title. And unlike his initial monster run, he had a clearer personality and character. Where the fire has gone today" He should be returned to his glory days. He and his fans deserve it. He's come so close in the past, imagine what could have been. Seriously, I think a REAL Kane push would go over huge with the fans, since its obvious he is still over with them.

To be continued (if you all can bear with me)... I'd say 2001 was also a "Golden Age of Kane" but for different reasons.

by Sev M...
Worm666 wrote:
Well in all respect to Glen Jacobs I do not believe the unmasked kane is the real kane. Being a fan of kane for many years I remember his exact size and what he looked like with a mask on. The current Kane is not the real Kane. The imposter in the mask is in fact the real Kane.

1) His body size and height is exactly like it was before.

2) His mask has a small part of his beard showing. As I remember it was short and stubby blonde exactly like the imposter.

3) His music is exactly like the old music, hence when Kane had his mask removed he was wearing a wig and the "imposter" has real hair.
Danny Bamburg wrote:
to Sev M......................if you look at pics of Isaak Yankem and pics of kane without the mask, you'll clearly see that both are Glen Jacobs
Brian wrote:
My name is Brian and i refered to a couple other colums on here and this is one of the best coloums i have ever read[all 3 parts] and i will like to say that kane is 1 of my favorite superstars but vince doesn't treat him right and i think he should get a couple more reigns of the title,defeating Undertaker at least once.But hopefully kane will go back to the monster that he is and he will win a couple more championships and not have the idiotic gimmicks he has been given.......Great colum.
Ernesto Diaz wrote:
Great article and I agree with Kane being misused. But I still don't think he has been screwed as much as the Undertaker (although they should give him the title before he retires).
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