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On October 5, the wrestling world will celebrate two decades since Kane stalked toward the squared circle, confronted his brother The Undertaker during the inaugural Hell in a Cell match and ignited a career full of good, bad, outrageous and downright ugly moments and matches.
Since his arrival in the WWE, he has been a constant presence on television. His effect has been felt on Superstars big and small, main eventers and opening-match job guys.
He has lit announcers on fire, electrocuted the testicles of a McMahon, burned his brother alive and captured gold along the way.
While Glenn Jacobs may be running for the mayor of Knox County, Tennessee, his creation’s influence on WWE television for the last 20 years is undeniable. For better, for worse, he has been an integral part of both Raw and SmackDown, captivating audiences and even inspiring laughter.
Intended or not.
In honor of Kane’s big anniversary, relive these moments that have helped shape his legacy and led to his status as a surefire Hall of Famer.
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The summer of 1997 brought with it claims by the heinous Paul Bearer that Undertaker’s brother Kane, believed to have been dead for 20 years, was still alive.
The Phenom refused to believe it. After all, he had spent his entire life believing his brother had perished in the same fire that had killed his mother and father. The idea that he could have survived and may be on his way back for revenge was unfathomable.
Then, at Badd Blood on October 5, Undertaker was in the midst of beating the everloving hell out of Shawn Michaels inside Hell in a Cell when the lights dimmed, organ music played over the PA system and pyro exploded at the entrance.
A massive figure clad in red and black, complete with a mask straight out of a 1980s slasher flick, stalked to the squared circle as his shocked older brother looked on. He tore the door off the cage, obliterated The Deadman with a Tombstone piledriver and left the wrestling world with more questions than answers.
In terms of a debut, it was as phenomenal an introduction as one could have asked for and immediately solidified Kane’s status as a genuine main event attraction after the many creative disappointments of the man behind the mask, Glenn Jacobs.
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After Badd Blood, Undertaker spent months refusing to fight his younger brother. Citing a promise he made to his parents, he endured beatings and only once attempted to defend himself, but he refused to lay hands on his sibling.
That changed after the 1998 Royal Rumble, where Kane feigned a reunion with his brother, only to cost him the WWE Championship against Shawn Michaels, then set the casket he was in on fire.
Undertaker returned to television in March, vowed to walk through the fires of hell to face Kane, and a match for WrestleMania XIV was set in motion.
In Boston for The Showcase of the Immortals, Kane battled his brother in the culmination of the WWE’s most epic bit of storytelling ever. The Big Red Monster began his night by dropping baseball legend Pete Rose with a Tombstone, but in the end, it was the machine-like big man who felt the brunt of his brother’s rage.
It took three Tombstones, but Kane ultimately went the way of Sycho Sid, Diesel, King Kong Bundy and others unlucky enough to battle The Deadman at WrestleMania to that point.
The defeat well could have spelled the end for Kane. Instead, it fueled him, leading to an innovative Inferno match the following month The feud between him and Undertaker would run on-and-off for the better part of 12 years, providing fans with surreal moments and matches.
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One of the more underrated stories of Kane’s Hall of Fame career was his friendship-turned-rivalry with X-Pac.
In 1999, Kane found in X-Pac his first real friend. After saving the smaller competitor from a beating at the hands of the hated Corporation, Kane formed an alliance and tag team with the degenerate. Together, they defeated Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart to become tag team champions.
More importantly, X-Pac made him more human.
Kane talked, he found friendship and even love in the form of Tori. His was the story of a monster turned man, something made possible by the close-knit relationship he had formed with X-Pac.
Which made the eventual betrayal perpetrated by X-Pac all the more shocking.
Kane was crushed when X-Pac turned on him to rejoin the reunited D-Generation X. Their ensuing rivalry, which would also see Tori turn his back on her boyfriend, is one of the underrated elements of WWE programming from late 1999 through the early months of 2000 and featured some strong matches between two Superstars.
From a character development standpoint, there may be no feud, story or angle more important to Kane’s career than his program with X-Pac.
Given how much he was involved in over the course of his legendary career, that is an enormous statement.
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Kane was drinking, then operated a vehicle with innocent little Katie Vick in the passenger’s seat. He wrecked the card, and Vick was killed. Distraught and in love, Kane may or may not have engaged in…activities…with Vick’s corpse.
That was a real life, honest-to-god wrestling storyline in 2002.
Triple H exposed the secret of Kane’s past, despite it being contradictory to everything we knew about The Big Red Machine from his previous storyline with Undertaker. Apparently, at the same time that Kane was locked in a basement, accessible only by Paul Bearer, he was also driving and in love with a high school sweetheart.
Small details like continuity be damned.
The absurdity of the storyline, which was hot garbage to put it nicely, enraged fans and sparked debate about the ridiculousness the floundering Raw brand was willing to present in order to recapture ratings glory of years past.
The match at No Mercy that October sucked, too, rendering the entire ordeal a massive failure and any momentum Kane had left was extinguished.
To this day, the Katie Vick story ranks among the crappiest Wrestlecrap in WWE history, the purest example of shlock booking for the sake of shock booking.
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The early 2000s was a weird period for the Raw brand.
The fall of 2003 brought with it a rivalry between Kane and Shane McMahon that saw the diabolical big man hook a pair of jumper cables to the prodigal son’s testicles and torture him, sending sparks of electricity into his nether regions.
That angle, one of torture and violence, was the most outrageous of Kane’s career.
The unmasking of The Big Red Monster that preceded the angle was essential in freshening him up and propelling his story forward. He needed to lose the mask to rediscover his inner demon, and he did. The unmasking served as career rejuvenation at a time when Kane was falling into the deep, dark abyss of staleness.
The rivalry with McMahon kept him at the top of the Raw roster without having to insert him into the World Heavyweight Championship picture, where Goldberg was clearly the focus of WWE Creative’s attention. With every week came a new vile, villainous act from the slasher-inspired baddie, and the fans ate it up.
Whether he was delivering a spine-crushing Tombstone to Linda McMahon or surviving being kicked into a flaming dumpster, Kane was an unstoppable force. And his television segments were the wildest, craziest, most logic-bending and outrageous in Raw history.
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In 2004, Raw writers continued to come up with the most ridiculous storylines imaginable for Kane.
First, he impregnated Lita after abducting her and…doing whatever it is a Big Red Monster does with a female companion. From there, he set out to marry her and, like most storybook weddings, won the right to do so by defeating Matt Hardy at SummerSlam in August.
That match gave way to a twisted, demented wedding.
Hardy’s interference did not halt the proceedings as Kane chokeslammed him to hell, then returned to the squared circle, where the marriage to his distressed bride was made official.
While that was the peak of the terribly written, horrifically acted story, it was not the end.
Weeks after the wedding, Gene Snitsky debuted, blasting Kane with a steel chair and sending him into Lita, who lost her baby. The television segments that came out of that moment not only tested the boundaries of good taste but were also unintentionally hilarious.
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In 2010, the always-adaptable Kane won Money in the Bank and proceeded to cash in that same night, defeating Rey Mysterio to capture the World Heavyweight Championship. The Big Red Monster had been on a rampage in recent weeks, seeking answers to the question, “who put The Undertaker in a vegetative state.”
Yes, a vegetative state.
In the weeks that followed his first world title win in 12 years, Kane pummeled the likes of Mysterio, Big Show and Jack Swagger, determined to find out who committed the heinous attack on his brother. Anyone who has ever watched WWE television knew the answer long before it was revealed, though
Kane was behind the attack, reigniting the rivalry with his older sibling that had been such a staple of the Attitude Era.
As world champion, Kane battled Undertaker in a series of matches ultimately won by The Devil’s Favorite Demon. For the first time, Kane was presented as his brother’s equal, capable of beating him under the bright lights and in the highest profile situations.
It was key to establishing Kane as a credible champion. After years of dedication, hard work and willingness to do whatever was asked of him, the quality title run was more than deserved. Kane, to the best of his ability, made the absolute most of the opportunity and turned in one of the finest years of the second-half of his career.
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The Director of Operations persona Kane took on in 2013 and well into the next two years was, not so surprisingly, one of the worst incarnations of his character.
As a corporate stooge unsure of whether he was going to be a sycophantic suck-up or a psychotic villain when he reintroduced his mask to the scenario, he was wildly inconsistent and difficult to get a read on. That his in-ring work had devolved considerably and fans had become bored after nearly two decades of prominence did not help.
It was somehow unfitting to see Kane so willing to do the dirty work of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon given the vast history of The Big Red Monster and The Game. It did not make sense, nor did the constant switching between authority figure and Demon and it failed.
Not before several high-profile matches with Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton and Seth Rollins in what was essentially his final main event run.
The product of his work did not quite live up to past performances, and it became more and more difficult to justify his place at the top of the card given his work at that time.