KANE: A Masked History
By Caylon Knox
There have been many physically imposing big men throughout the history of professional wrestling. Large athletes, especially those who compete in dangerous physical sports, are often labeled as being "monsters" or "giants". World Wrestling Entertainment has seen more than its fair share of monsters and giants over the years. The most legendary giant, of course, is the Hall of Famer, Andre the Giant. Other giants such as "The Big Show" Paul Wight and The Great Khali have also made names for themselves inside WWE's squared circle.
The term "giant" is usually given to individuals who are close to, or over, the seven-foot height range. The term "monster" is usually given to individuals who may not be the tallest, but are certainly some of the most physically imposing athletes on the roster. Monsters include individuals such as "The World's Strongest Man" Mark Henry, who stands 6'4" and weighs a massive 400 pounds. The late Eddie Fatu (R.I.P.), better known as "The Samoan Bulldozer" Umaga, who stood 6'4" and tipped the scales at over 350 pounds. The legendary "Animal" Dave Batista, who stands 6'5" and weighs in at well over 275 pounds of pure muscle and strength.
WWE has been home to countless scores of monsters and giants throughout the years. But since October of 1997, one monstrous individual, who stands nearly seven feet tall and weighs well over 300 pounds, has terrorized the WWE Universe with an absolute fury of "Hellfire & Brimstone." The younger half-brother of the legendary "Phenom" The Undertaker and the son of the ever-sinister Paul Bearer, "The Big Red Monster" Kane.
Kane made his WWE debut at the October 1997 WWE Badd Blood pay-per-view, interfering in WWE's first-ever Hell in a Cell cage match, which saw The Undertaker battling "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels. Near the end of the match, when it appeared as though The Undertaker would pick up the victory, the lights went out in the arena. A soon-to-be familiar entrance theme song began to echo throughout the arena, and an explosion of pyrotechnics was set ablaze. Standing next to The Undertaker's former manager Paul Bearer was a truly terrifying sight to behold. An extremely tall, muscular, long-haired, masked individual, wearing a custom-made full-body attire, slowly made his way down the entrance ramp. To the surprise and horror of many, this individual ripped the locked door right off of the Cell, and proceeded to enter the ring. The Undertaker stared at this individual in amazement, and soon suffered the effects of his very own finishing maneuver, the Tombstone Piledriver.
In the weeks prior to the Badd Blood PPV, Paul Bearer had warned The Undertaker and the WWE Universe that The Undertaker's younger half-brother Kane was alive, and not dead from the terrible fire that consumed the brothers' home when they were children. After weeks of speculation, Paul Bearer was proven to be true to his word. Kane was alive, and Kane wanted vengeance.
Despite repeated challenges and taunts from Paul Bearer and Kane, The Undertaker refused to engage in combat against his own flesh and blood. This angered Paul Bearer and Kane, and innocent WWE Superstars and employees were forced to suffer the consequences at the hands of this monstrous individual. Eventually The Undertaker agreed to face his brother at WWE's biggest pay-per-view of the year, WrestleMania.
At WrestleMania 14 in 1998, Kane faced his brother in a truly epic match-up, though not before Tombstone Piledriving the legendary and infamous baseball player Pete Rose before the contest. Kane was absolutely dominant throughout much of the match, and even kicked out of not one, but two Tombstone Piledrivers from The Undertaker, something which had been previously unheard of. However, despite Kane and Paul Bearer's best efforts, The Undertaker was able to emerge victorious. After the match however, Kane attacked his brother once again, and Tombstone Piledrove The Undertaker's skull on top of a steel chair. This brutal fight between the two brothers established the fact that Kane was truly one of the most impressive and physically imposing Superstars in the entire WWE.
At the 1998 King of the Ring pay-per-view, Kane faced "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in a First Blood Match for the WWE World Championship. Kane was victorious in this bout, and was the WWE World Champion for about 24 hours before losing the belt back to Steve Austin the following night on Monday Night Raw. However, Kane had established himself as one of the elite main-event Superstars in WWE. Kane had been the World Champion, even if only for one day.
In late 1998, Kane's own father Paul Bearer turned on "The Big Red Monster" to once again align himself with Kane's half-brother The Undertaker. Paul Bearer and The Undertaker then went on to form the Ministry of Darkness, which was essentially The Undertaker's personal army of warriors.
Throughout 1999, Kane found himself being aligned with various WWE Superstars. He was at one point a member of WWE Chairman Vince McMahon's stable, The Corporation. But after leaving The Corporation, Kane became aligned with Sean "X-Pac" Waltman, who was formerly a member of D-Generation X along with Triple H, Chyna, and The New Age Outlaws: "Bad Ass" Billy Gunn & "The Road Dogg" Jesse James. Kane and X-Pac found success as a tag team, and even captured the WWE World Tag Team Championship.
It was also Kane's friendship with X-Pac which led "The Big Red Monster" to utter his very first words on a WWE microphone. Kane had previously been mute to the damage that had allegedly been caused to Kane's throat/voice box due to the fire that had burned down he and The Undertaker's home.
In the year 2000, Kane continued to be a dominant force in WWE and a major threat to the WWE World Championship. Kane battled WWE's top Superstars, including: The Undertaker, Triple H, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, and The Rock. However, Kane was ultimately unable to recapture what he had once held ever-so briefly. Throughout 2001, Kane was one of WWE's strongest and most valuable assets during the invasion of the World Championship Wrestling (WCW)/Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) Alliance. Kane & The Undertaker: The Brothers of Destruction, became the dominant force in the Tag Team Division, and won both the WWE and WCW World Tag Team Championships. Kane also won the highly prestigious WWE Intercontinental Championship for the first time in 2001. After the smoke had cleared, WWE remained the dominant brand, and WCW and ECW were both put out of business.
In 2002, Kane was continuing his reign of terror in WWE until an assault from his former friend X-Pac, along with the New World Order (nWo) faction, resulted in an injury for the former WWE Intercontinental, Hardcore, Tag Team, and World Champion. In September of 2002, after the nWo had disbanded, Kane returned from his injury to interrupt a segment with the villainous faction known as The Un-Americans. This Canadian stable was threatening to ignite the American flag with a blowtorch until Kane's pyro exploded in the entrance way. Kane returned to WWE with a new look. Kane was noticeably leaner and more agile, and the bottom of his trademark mask had been removed, exposing the mouth and chin parts of Kane's face.
From 2002 until mid-2003, Kane enjoyed considerable success as a member of WWE's Monday Night Raw roster (as opposed to the WWE SmackDown roster, due to WWE creating two separate rosters in 2002). Kane held Tag Team Championship gold with Rob Van Dam and Gregory "The Hurricane" Helms, and Kane also captured his second Intercontinental Championship. However, in the summer of 2003, Kane's career would change forever.
On a live edition of Monday Night Raw emanating from Madison Square Garden in New York City, Kane challenged Triple H for the WWE Raw World Heavyweight Championship. After interference from Triple H's Evolution stable (Ric Flair and Randy Orton), Kane lost the match. The stipulation had been that the contest was a Title vs. Mask Match, and that Kane would have to remove his mask if he were to lose the bout. Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff did not hesitate to remind Kane of this stipulation after the match had ended, and Kane was forced to stay true to his word. With his tag team partner Rob Van Dam in the ring, Kane finally revealed his face to the entire world for the first time.
Immediately after removing his mask, Kane viciously assaulted his own tag team partner with a devastating Chokeslam. The era of the unmasked Kane had begun.
Throughout the rest of 2003, Kane wreaked havoc on Monday Night Raw. Nobody was safe from Kane's fury, and Kane's many victims included: Linda McMahon, Shane McMahon, Eric Bischoff, Steve Austin, Jim Ross, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, Rico Constantino, Tommy Dreamer, and eventually Kane's brother The Undertaker.
It seemed as though Kane might be a truly unstoppable force in WWE, until WrestleMania XX in March of 2004, when Kane once again faced his half-brother The Undertaker at a WrestleMania event. Kane was virtually dominated by The Undertaker and was soundly defeated after a Tombstone Piledriver. After this crushing defeat, Kane's career began to go on a downward spiral.
Kane tried several times to capture the World Heavyweight Championship, and was unsuccessful every time. In the summer of 2004, Kane began an extremely twisted relationship with WWE Diva Lita. Kane soundly defeated Lita's boyfriend Matt Hardy, and eventually Kane impregnated Lita, albeit against her will, and the two were expecting to have a child until the newcomer Gene Snitsky caused Kane to fall on top of Lita, which then resulted in a miscarriage. Kane then feuded with Gene Snitsky, and surprisingly Gene Snitsky managed to get the best of Kane.
In 2005, Kane continued to feud with Lita, Gene Snitsky, and Lita's new boyfriend, "The Rated-R Superstar" Edge. Kane would lose this feud against Edge, and eventually was replaced by Matt Hardy, who had recently made his return to WWE. However, Kane did form a very successful tag team with The Big Show in late 2005, and the duo held the World Tag Team Championship for quite some time until losing the belts to The Spirit Squad in 2006.
In 2006 and 2007, Kane's career continued to flounder. "The Big Red Monster" suffered losses at the hands of Dave Batista, Umaga, The Great Khali, Montel Vontavious Porter (M.V.P.), Mark Henry, Big Daddy Viscera, and many others. This once dominant force in WWE was now merely a jobber (a wrestler who loses nearly all of their matches). However, Kane's career seemed to turn around in 2008 after joining WWE's Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) roster.
Kane defeated Chavo Guerrero Jr. at WrestleMania 24 in April of 2008 for the ECW World Championship. This was Kane's first World Title since 1998, and his first Championship of any kind since 2006. Kane was a fairly dominant ECW World Champion, and he defeated several of ECW's top Superstars, including C.M. Punk, to retain the Championship. However, Kane would only hold the ECW Title for a couple of months until eventually losing the strap to "The World's Strongest Man" Mark Henry. Kane was then sent back to Monday Night Raw.
After returning to Raw, Kane embarked in a brief feud against Rey Mysterio. After this feud had concluded, Kane's career again seemed to flounder throughout 2008 and 2009. However, 2010 would prove to be Kane's biggest year ever.
In 2010, Kane once again embarked in a feud against The Undertaker. Kane had managed to capture theSmackDown World Heavyweight Championship, thus making Kane the very first Superstar to hold all three of WWE's World Titles: The WWE Championship, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, and the now-retired ECW World Championship. And for the first time in Kane's life, he was finally able to get the best of his older half-brother. Kane was a dominant World Heavyweight Champion for over half a year until finally losing the World Heavyweight Title to Edge in December of 2010.
In the summer of 2011, Kane fell victim, as have many others, to the absolutely unstoppable force that is Mark Henry. However, even the power of the World's Strongest Man has not proven to be strong enough to subdue the fire that burns within the soul of the legendary "Big Red Monster" Kane. On December 12, 2011, a masked Kane made his highly-anticipated return to WWE, making his presence felt during a bout between John Cena and the man who put Kane on the sidelines, then-World Heavyweight Champion, Mark Henry. However, in a bizarre and unexpected turn of events, Mark Henry did not fall victim to Kane's wrath. Rather, Kane's fury was directed at John Cena, who felt the taste of a devastating Chokeslam from The Big Red Machine of Destruction.
What does the future hold for Kane? How many more years will this WWE Legend continue to compete? How many more victims will "The Devil's Favorite Demon" claim? How many more Championships will he win? What kind of fury will Kane unleash as he makes his return to World Wrestling Entertainment?