Kane’s fight for the only title he ever really wanted: The Devil’s Favourite Demon.
In June 2010, the mighty ‘Big Red Machine’ attacked The Undertaker, putting him in a ‘vegetative state’. Kane’s plan was to take out the half-brother that had overshadowed him since his arrival in the WWE in October 1997.
The following month, Kane won the World Heavyweight Championship from Rey Mysterio. After years of lurking in the shadows, and bubbling under the surface of the main event picture of the WWE, Kane had finally arrived at the top. His loyal fan base almost felt like they’d won the title with him on that night – largely due to supporting him through more than a decade of half-assed pushes, injuries, and various other setbacks. Granted, he had held the WWE championship once before, in 1998 – for all of 24 hours.
So, The Big Red Monster was sitting on top of the mountain, at last. But his greatest achievement was still ahead of him.
Of course, Kane’s evil plot to eliminate The Undertaker didn’t work out as planned – The Undertaker returned in August at Summerslam to confront the man who took him out.
The angle was something completely new to WWE and The Deadman – the man who ALWAYS returned stronger, and majestically vanquished his foes with the greatest of ease – had come back too early. Playing up his still-weakened, post-comatose state, ‘Taker grabbed Kane by the throat, but was easily overthrown. Kane planted the returning Phenom with a Tombstone Piledriver, and left him lying in the ring.
In the months that followed, Kane successfully turned back The Undertaker’s challenges for 3 consecutive pay per view events – Night of Champions, Hell in a Cell, and the aptly named Bragging Rights. Never before had The Phenom returned from injury and been relentlessly battered and ultimately defeated three times in a row.
During this feud, Kane cut some truly magnificent promos on Smackdown, the best coming just after Summerslam, in which he explained why he attacked The Deadman. It was a moment that proved that he can still add significant value to the show, when put in the right position. Unfortunately, however, the feud lacked the spark that the two combatants usually create (probably because they had feuded so many times before) and was not terribly entertaining to watch – the matches between the ‘Brothers of Destruction’ were nothing special, unlike the bouts they had in the late 90s.
Paul Bearer returned in a fantastic segment on Smackdown on The Undertaker’s side, and then (somewhat predictably) turned on him at the Hell in a Cell event, and swapped sides to help his son, Kane.
After losing to his half-brother for the third time (in the Buried Alive match) at Bragging Rights, The Undertaker disappeared again – and would not return until the following year. He did not go after Kane, who had established his place as ‘the dominant brother’. He now called himself ‘The Devil’s Favourite Demon’ – and this was the accomplishment that he had been striving for.
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Surprisingly, it was downhill for Kane from there. Instead of going on a killing spree on Smackdown and destroying everyone in his path, he was immediately thrown into a war with Edge over the World Heavyweight Championship.
The massive Champion went from systematically and comprehensively dismantling one of the greatest legends in the history of WWE to chasing Edge around arenas, crying, begging, and generally being made to look like a weak villain from a Scooby Doo cartoon. The ‘Rated R Superstar’ had kidnapped Paul Bearer, strapped him to a wheelchair and held him for weeks, torturing him, while Kane helplessly looked on and became more and more miserable by the week.
Kane finally lost his title to Edge in December in a Fatal four-way TLC match.
From there, Kane sank back into the shadows of Smackdown. After losing his rematch for the World title, he meandered across the landscape of WWE, putting in his shift, but not finding a route back into the main event until his much anticipated ‘Resurrection’ in December 2011.
Kane would disappear from WWE in July 2011 and return in December. This wasn’t just a return. This was his ‘Resurrection’. Kane returned with the mask, which he referred to as his ‘true essence’.
When the ‘Big Red Machine’ was unmasked in 2003, it was clear that his face was not scarred by fire, as the original storyline would have us believe – but that hole in the story was filled ingeniously during an interview with Jim Ross, when it was brought to our attention that Kane HAD been scarred superficially while still a child, but continued to wear the mask into adulthood because he still believed that he was a scarred, hideous freak.
‘The doctors told me that those burn marks were only superficial… They wanted me to go see a shrink.’
The Kane character is indeed a messed up individual, and he now feels that he needs the mask again, as it is symbolic of a time when he was an unstoppable monster. This return has propelled him back into the main event picture, as he currently feuds with John Cena.
A return to his old self – maybe this is Kane’s final run? Perhaps Kane and The Undertaker are on a collision course for one final showdown? It would be a fitting end for both characters for them to end it together.
The man, Glenn Jacobs, is notorious for allowing himself to step back and allow the younger talent to step up and take the limelight. It is an admirable approach to business, when there are so many his age (and much older) who REFUSE to give up the spotlight. For Kane’s fans, though, this can be frustrating, because it means that he willingly allows other superstars to perform in the main events, and doesn’t strive to constantly force himself up into that upper echelon.
As a result of his positive, forward-thinking attitude, he won’t be remembered as a man who won many World Championships. He will be remembered for his stellar promos, his awesome debut in 1997 and the years of destruction that followed. He will remain an example of how older wrestlers should behave (in the interest of the business, NOT the individual) until he retires, and hopefully beyond.
Originally designed as just another monster for The Undertaker to bury in the late 90s, the Kane character remains a colossus in WWE, nearly 15 years later. Instead of being just another victim in his older brother’s legacy, Kane has created a legacy of his own.
It hasn’t all been domination and destruction – but Glenn Jacobs has made it work, and he’s proven that he is still a valuable asset to the company, and can still be a major player, ready to carry the ball, when needed.