WWE Superstar Kane is one of the greatest to ever step into the squared circle. It feels weird to write that, but it’s almost impossible to disprove. He’s been a consistent part of WWE programming for almost 20 years, and in that time he’s given us some of the best storylines and greatest match moments in the industry.
When Kane, real name Glenn Jacobs, first entered the WWE it was as Dr. Isaac Yankem, the private dentist of Jerry Lawler. It was a silly gimmick that saw him wrestle Bret Hart a few times before it was ultimately scrapped.
That wasn’t the last of his terrible gimmicks however, as after Kevin Nash left the WWE for WCW, they attempted to simply replace him with another man under the same nickname, Diesel. It was an ill-conceived move, and as Nash tore up Nitro with Scott Hall, “Fake Diesel” and his buddy “Fake Razor” ultimately failed, leaving Jacobs without a gimmick and off TV yet again.
And then came Kane. Designed as the demon foil to the Deadman, the role fit Jacobs' large and imposing figure perfectly, and he became an instant hit with the fans. He went on to become a Grand Slam Champion (awarded for winning a primary, tag, secondary and tertiary championship at least once in a career), set many Royal Rumble records and become involved in some classic storylines (as well as a few stinkers, but we’ll ignore that for now. Less words devoted to Katie Vick the better).
It’s a mixture of his massive stature and athletic ability, his convincing power moves mixed with his surprising quickness, his ability to switch gimmicks and make it all work. Kane can be put into almost any storyline and work. He rarely puts on a bad match and he’s always entertaining, and that’s why he’s one of the greatest of all time. Not convinced yet?
Well, here’s 15 reasons why you should consider Kane as one of the best.
15 First Blood Match
Kane was involved in the first ever First Blood Match, and now WWE has gone PG, meaning we may never see a match like this again. A classic match at King of the Ring 1998 (though overshadowed by the Undertaker/Mankind Hell in a Cell match) against Stone Cold Steve Austin for the WWE Championship. The match was concocted by Mr McMahon to ensure Stone Cold would lose the title. After all, who can tell if a masked man can bleed?
It was a great reason for a violently fun stipulation, and gave Kane his first ever singles championship.
14 Rivalry with Seth Rollins
Seth Rollins was one of the few reasons to keep watching Raw during 2015, as he was consistently entertaining in the ring and on the mic as the WWE desperately tried to make Roman over in time to win the big gold by the end of the year (a plan that…almost worked). Him and Kane showed an obvious dislike for each other throughout the year, culminating in a championship rivalry for Hell in a Cell.
What was special about the rivalry was how Kane effortlessly switched between the demonic force from hell and the cheerful Director of Operations as he tried to hide that he had become the demon again. It was fun, funny, and led to a fun match.
13 Flying Clothesline
When a small guy jumps off the top rope, it’s exciting but expected. It’s truly special when a big guy pulls off a top rope maneuver, and it’s even more special when it’s a part of their regular repertoire.
Kane’s flying clothesline has entertained for years. The way the demon squats on top of the turnbuckle like a gargoyle, waiting for his opponent to turn around, sends chills down the spine. But what’s even more incredible is how he’s adapted the move over the years. He’s hit it to groups outside the ring. He’s hit it off the top of a cage. He’s hit it to people dangling over the ropes to knock them out. The flying clothesline has always been a thing of beauty and Kane’s consistently found ways to make the move even more exciting.
12 Surprisingly Decent Technical Wrestler
Big guys, especially in the WWE, are pigeonholed into a very specific role. From Big Show to Braun Strowman, the slow behemoths are expected to have several big powerful moves to dispatch opponents, acting more like monsters like wrestlers. And despite his athleticism, Kane has been in this role for a lot of his career.
Until on a Monday Night Raw in 2006 when he wrestled the Big Show, the two guys seemed they’d rather show the crowd how talented they really were. What followed was a five minute chain wrestling sequence that was truly magnificent to watch. It wasn’t on the level of Kurt Angle or Daniel Bryan obviously, but it was something far more impressive than you’d expect either of these guys to be able to do at their size.
11 Royal Rumble Performances
Kane, despite never winning a Royal Rumble, holds a few awards to do with the classic yearly match. Famously he held the record for most eliminations in a single Rumble, before Roman Reigns bested his score in the 2014 Rumble. However, Kane still has the most eliminations of all time with 44 over the course of 19 rumbles (Which is also the record for most rumbles entered). He also has the honor of knocking out the Rumble participant with the shortest time in the ring, after eliminating Santino Marella in a single second in the 2009 Rumble.
Kane also had one of the more memorable moments in the recent Royal Rumble match. R-Truth ran out to the ring, grabbing a ladder and setting it up in the ring before ascending it and looking dumbfounded when there was no briefcase hanging for him to grab. Kane gave him a confused look before throwing him out of the ring.
10 Inferno Match
Another classic match type inspired by Kane, with his fiery demon gimmick of a man burned alive being used as the backdrop for this flame-based match. The rules are simple – the ring is surrounded by fire, and you win when your opponent is set on fire. Kane has competed in all four of the matches that have taken place in WWE, though he’s won only once against MVP at Armageddon 2006.
The first Inferno Match took place on April 26th 1998, which is the real life birthday of Glenn Jacobs. It was the longest Inferno match in history at nearly 16 minutes, and ended with The Undertaker setting Kane’s arm on fire. What better way to celebrate your birth than having your storyline brother set you on fire?
9 His Unmasking
One of the coolest thing about Kane for many years was his mask. We’d seen a few luchadores and other masked wrestlers come through the WWE, but the story of a guy with a disfigured face gave Kane’s mask a certain enigmatic draw. How bad was his face beneath there?
Well, not that bad, it turned out. But the reveal was still cool as hell (pun intended). After losing against Triple H, Kane was forced to unmask on Raw. When he revealed his face to the camera, it looked like he just had some dirt on his cheeks. But immediately chokeslamming his tag partner Rob Van Dam and turning heel made the implications of losing the mask more shocking than the visuals.
8 Brothers of Destruction
One of the most dominating tag teams in WWE history, the Brothers of Destruction placed The Undertaker and Kane on the same side as they pursued tag gold. The two had similar but distinct move-sets, allowing them to show off their differences while using their similarities to create really exciting moments, such as when they pulled off the Double Chokeslam.
These two have had a storyline that has re-emerged and evolved ever since Kane’s debut, and the few times they’ve joined forces throughout have always been a grand spectacle. Most recently they joined together to face the Wyatt Family at Survivor Series, in what many expect to have been their last match together as a team.
7 Team Hell No
Controversial choice putting Team Hell No above the Brothers of Destruction (and I admit to being biased with D-Bry not only being my favorite wrestler, but also retiring recently), but for my money he made a far better team with Daniel Bryan. Kane does one of his best comedic performances throughout this run, while Bryan grows from fan favorite to main eventer.
The two made a great team to watch in the ring, with Bryan's incredible acrobatic style mixing well with Kane’s powerful move set. But it was their chemistry rather than their moves that really made the team. From the anger management classes with Dr. Shelby, to screaming “I AM THE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS” at each other, and even when they won the belts by Daniel pushing Kane off the top rope onto Kofi Kingston. They were dysfunctional, hilarious, talented, and made the best TV during their run.
6 He’s Still Going
A lot of people often question why some wrestlers, like Big Show and even Undertaker, are still pushed to compete at their age when they should be firmly retired by now. The crowd even chants “please retire” to Big Show during most of his matches. Kane is sometimes brought up in this conversation, but not as often. Why? Because the guy can still go.
While Big Show has gotten slower, and Undertaker finds himself relying more and more on his opponents, Kane can still put on a great match. He’s been relatively injury free (except a bicep tear in 2002) most of his career, and has been ever-present on TV up until a few years ago where he took on a more backstage role. But even now he’s nearing 50, he can still put on a great match and cut a good promo. He should be considering a retirement from the ring soon due to his age, but he’s definitely not showing signs of his age just yet.
In all of his years, Kane has been an incredibly consistent performer. Every worker in the company has gone through a bad spell, where either they’ve gotten too bland or simply seemed to lack the focus and drive to put on an entertaining match. It can be very obvious when someone’s just “going through the motions”, but Kane has never suffered from that. From the moment his pyro first hits and the demonic sounds of his theme hits, you know you’re going to get at the very least a somewhat decent match, because even the worst Kane matches are still pretty good. And that’s an incredible thing to be able to say. It’s possibly the hardest record to quantify, but it’s looking like Kane can retire while saying “I’ve never really put on a bad match”, which is a hell of a thing to end a career with.
Being consistent while staying within a gimmick can be easy. You learn how to utilize your characters strengths over time, and the ability to put on a great match every week becomes second nature. But being able to do that whilst also changing the way your character works? That takes talent.
Kane made us scared when he first stepped into a WWE arena, but he made us laugh when mocking The Rock and Hulk Hogan in a Smackdown segment where he hilariously named his fans “Kanenites”. From the creepy Lita wedding, to Director of Operations; From Brothers of Destruction to Team Hell No; Inferno matches to Concession Stands; Kane has made us scared, he’s made us laugh, he’s made cry, he’s made us angry, he’s made us happy and most importantly he’s kept us entertained. Kane is probably one of the most versatile workers of all time, and can make any gimmick or idea work.
3 Rivalry with The Undertaker
Kane and The Undertaker will go down as one of the best rivalries in the history of the WWE, there is no doubt about that. A monster created to be the perfect opponent for The Phenom, Kane put on some spectacular matches with his storyline brother. Their match at WrestleMania XIV was an amazing way to cap off a year of build-up, with Kane kicking out of multiple tombstone piledrivers. Their rivalry resurfaced several times during the years, spanning from 1998 all the way to their most recent encounters during 2010.
What’s very important about their rivalry is how they boosted each other's legacies. The Undertaker will go down as the greatest, I don’t think anyone can argue that. And his long rivalry with Kane helped cement that – it gave him a reliable partner, or a hated adversary. Without Kane, The Undertaker wouldn’t be as revered as he is. I’m confident of that. Likewise, without having The Undertaker to give him his start, Kane may never have found the gimmick that got him over.
2 The Demon's Debut
A good debut can make you, a bad one can break you. The Shockmaster in WCW debuted by falling through a wall with his sparkling Stormtrooper helmet falling off. He didn’t last. Chris Jericho interrupted The Rock and gave a typically great Jericho promo. He became one of the most decorated and celebrated heels in company history.
Kane? His debut was during the first ever Hell in a Cell match. Badd Blood: In Your House, 1997, The Undertaker faces Shawn Michaels with Paul Bearer’s threats of his brother’s appearance haunting his mind. Then towards the end of the match, he steps out. Billed as seven feet tall, wearing a fiery red costume and a mask hiding his red face, the man looked terrifying. He ripped the cage door off, and Tombstone Piledrivered the Undertaker, costing him the match. A great moment for Kane and a classic moment for professional wrestling.
1 He’s Just Awesome
The Miz may constantly proclaim he’s awesome, but Kane just is. There’s so many Kane moments to list here, I doubt I can fit them all in. On an episode of Raw in 2002 he defended the Tag Championships in a TLC match singlehandedly, beating off three other teams on his own. It was his chokeslam that kept Goldberg down for the three count (though Triple H was the one that made the pin), a feat that was only achieved twice in WWE, and only once from a wrestling move rather than weapon. Do you remember when he snapped his leg into place by stamping the ground? Or his amazing Last Man Standing match against Shane McMahon at Unforgiven 2003 where he avoided Shane’s senton off the top of the titantron to pick up the victory?
Kane has been involved in so many memorable moments over the years it makes him impossible to forget, and the more you remember them, the clearer the conclusion becomes: Kane is one of the best of all time.