It’s the First Day of #KaneWeek, a celebration of all things Big Red Monster and the ninth installment of our (patent-pending) Juice Make Sugar Wrestler of the Week series. As always we’ll start by making Kane a Wrestler You Should Probably Know Better. Tomorrow we give you the finer points of the Glen Jacobs oeuvre with some Essential Viewing then march through Wednesday with a GIF Parade. After Hump Day we’ll make our Amazon.com-on-steroids dreams come true with “Juice Make Sugar Recommends…” on Thursday before finishing everything off on Friday with a Difference of Opinion (where JMS HQ erupts in a Hellfire-and-Brimstone-fueled civil war.)
There’s a good chance you won’t find Glenn Jacobs’ name on too many “match of the year” lists, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a match worthy of that incredibly subjective “five star” rating. In fact, you’ll find just as much WrestleCrap on his résumé as you will quality wrestling.
But when Nick asked me who I thought deserved to be featured next in our (patent-pending) Juice Make Sugar Wrestler of the Week series, few superstars seemed more deserving than the Big Red Machine.
A smart guy inside the wrestling business, and outside as ; regardless of whether or not you agree with his beliefs (I’m a mixed bag, at best), it’s hard to deny he actually knows what he’s talking about. And unlike a certain former CEO with a couple of failed Connecticut Senate runs, he may actually have a future in politics after wrestling. Even if he may have trouble running from his past.
Take his debut, in 1995, as Jerry “The King” Lawler’s private dentist. The Dr. Isaac Yankem, DDS experience was what it was: a green worker given a ridiculous gimmick with a punny name who was — even backed by a great promo and booked against one of the greatest workers in the business — practically set up to fail. If this happened today, he’d be wished well in his future endeavors within six months. And yet, more than 18 years later, he’s at the tail-end of a legendary career with the biggest wrestling company in the world.
He made it through A LOT: being paired up with X-Pac, dubbed “The Big Red Retard,” a horrid unmasking on live TV — complete with fake hair and black makeup made to look like the world’s least convincing burns. Even after Jim Ross pointed out how normal Kane looked, and KANE SET JIM ROSS ON FIRE, Kane stayed over.
Part of that was because Kane started so hot. #HBKWeek should have brought back fond memories of Kane’s debut, ripping off the Hell in a Cell door and starting a literal blood feud with his “brother,” The Undertaker. He had an awesome, bloody program with the Texas Rattlesnake and helped make Mick Foley a household name. If only things could stay so good.
But his incredible run has not been without some serious hiccups. In fact, the fact that Kane isn’t a Big Red Gym Teacher by now is a true testament to his talent and, maybe more importantly, his ability to roll with the punches.
He feuded with a past-version of himself. And lost. Think about THAT.
He overcame that character-assassinating Finger Eleven theme song.
He became a babyface after RAPING Lita and FORCING HER INTO MARRIAGE, stayed a babyface when she miscarried at the hands of Snitsky (BUT IT WASN’T HIS FAULT), and didn’t even managed to lose it after Lita — the woman he raped, impregnated and forced into marriage — left him for another guy.
He even survived Katie Vick.
But survival isn’t what impresses me about Kane. It’s his ability to work with whoever, and whatever, to tell the story and get other guys over. The most recent example of this may be the most significant, and ultimately, the one for which Kane is best remembered.
Team Hell No MADE Daniel Bryan. The crowd liked him, and, he was a former world heavyweight champion, but Kane gave D-Bry the chance to show an actual personality, to show that the American Dragon was someone who the fans could REALLY connect with. The difference between being a solid hand in the upper-midcard and a bonafide top guy. Daniel Bryan is a top guy, and he owes at least a little bit of his success to his association with Kane.
It didn’t always work out THIS well for guys paired up or against Kane, but even if The Hurricane was never going to be WWE champion, he got to share some tag team spotlight for a while. And X-Pac enjoyed his last shreds of mainstream credibility as the guy who made Kane talk. Feuding with Kane helped make Edge the “Rated R Superstar.” Lita’s live-TV boob-slip didn’t hurt, though.
And for better or worse, Kane helped launch WWE Films. See No Evil cost about 8 million dollars to make, and brought in more than double that. Not bad for a B-horror movie starring a pro wrestler. And sure, that led to Knucklehead and The Chaperone, but they can’t all be winners.
Kane probably won’t be ranked among the “best ever” or get “one more run” with the WWE title. He might not even have any more great matches. But you know what’s definitely in Kane’s future? A well-deserved Hall of fame ring, following what will surely be an epic induction by his “brother.”
Until then, though, there’s lots to enjoy. There will be plenty of good matches to come against worthy, up-and-coming opponents. There will be some dark and scary stuff. There will be some funny business. It wouldn’t be Kane unless some of it was utterly ridiculous. But you’d better believe that in the end, it’ll all be worth watching.