I feel bad writing this.
You see, once upon a time, Kane was an excellent character with a great backstory. His slow journey from mute destroyer to speaking with a larynx microphone to speaking normally and feeling emotion (his romance with Tori, for instance) resonated. Fans bought that it was growth for him, and we could relate. When the time came, Kane’s unmasking was done well, but WWE could’ve gone all out on making him look even the slightest bit disfigured. They didn’t, but covered that with great storylines about how he saw something different than reality, something that anyone who knew a sufferer of mental illness or took medication for it could understand, and again, relate to.
Eventually Kane stopped being the monster that everyone feared and he became beatable. In fact, he got beaten fairly often, to the point where his appearance was less something to fear and more something to look at with a bit of sadness. He was strong, but he was no monster.
In 2010, though, things appeared to turn for him. Kane won the Money in the Bank match for Smackdown, and then cashed in that night to become World Heavyweight Champion, setting the table for a feud with the Undertaker, which brought the return of Paul Bearer as well, making it feel like 1998 all over again, except now it was for the Big Gold Belt. Kane’s follow-on feud with Edge was very good as well, and Kane looked like he was back on track as a character, once more a monster who had to be outsmarted.
The next year, though, Mark Henry was on a tear as a monster, beating the living hell out of opponents, and he “broke” Kane’s leg, putting him out for months. Upon returning, Kane had new ring gear and had remasked, accentuating it with a welder’s mask that resembled the Predator. Unfortunately, remasked Kane was just cannon fodder for John Cena to open 2012. From there, he was part of a love square with himself, Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, and AJ, which eventually folded Kane and Bryan into a comic tag team that won the tag belts and brought lots of laughs during their “therapy” sessions with “Dr. Shelby.” Both men’s popularity soared in this team, but by 2013, Bryan was the runaway star, they were split once more, and so Kane became aimless, was attacked by the Wyatt Family, and went off to film See No Evil 2.
After filming, Kane returned, attacked the Wyatts on RAW, then walked up the ramp, suddenly unmasked and handed it to Stephanie McMahon. He became The Authority’s Director of Operations, strangled by proper HR guidelines, a caricature of himself. He was used as an enforcer at times to try and stop people like Daniel Bryan and the Shield. The Shield destroyed Kane, including a mauling as part of a very quick six-man tag match at Wrestlemania XXX. So, what happens? He gets remasked, Daniel Bryan has to feign horror at Kane, but promptly beats him at Extreme Rules to keep the WWE World Title. Since then, Kane “injured” Daniel Bryan to cover Bryan’s neck surgery, and has been fed to the Cena & Roman Reigns machine week after week. Cena pretends to be scared of Kane, but always beats him, no matter the situation.
By now, you’re probably wondering how a fan could stay invested in Kane. The answer is: you can’t. And that’s why Kane has to go.
I understand that WWE is hurting right now in terms of its star power. CM Punk quit in January, Daniel Bryan is on the shelf indefinitely, Brock Lesnar is part-time, and Undertaker is likely done wrestling. Many of the old stars are too old to go these days, and WWE hasn’t done a great job of making new stars (For some good insight on this, listen to former WWE Creative producer Court Bauer discuss the issue with Steve Austin here). I don’t want to rehash old arguments, but WWE’s reliance on John Cena and packaging of him as the modern version of 1980’s Hulk Hogan has not done him or them any favors. Since no one goes over on Cena, no one can build credibility with the fan base. Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, Alberto Del Rio, and Ryback are just a few of those who never passed a certain point because Cena gave them an inch when they needed a foot. The WWE teems with midcard wrestlers and few stars.
With a dwindled base of big names to bring in, WWE is leaning on Kane to be a monster, but anyone who has watched the product long stopped being convinced that he is. His in-ring ability is diminished, his character is stuck in Groundhog Day, and there’s no consistency to his pushes. When Kane came back with the mask, I had high hopes for one last run of the Big Red Monster, but Cena didn’t “embrace the hate,” and buried Kane. Comedy Kane with Daniel Bryan was great, but the moment he turned heel again, it lost its luster, especially with his unmasking and remasking in a six-month period. It made no sense. It was booking on the fly with no thought as to a long-term plan, and it showed.
Unfortunately, Kane has no streak to lean on, like The Undertaker. He has nowhere left with this character. A repackage wouldn’t work, because you can’t repackage something you’ve recycled four times already. I’m sure that Glenn Jacobs, the man behind the mask, loves the business and enjoys the money he makes. Since an unmasking happened, twice, you can’t exactly give him a new character, because he’d get chants of “Kane” every week. You can’t convince us he’s a monster when Roman Reigns and John Cena dispatch him with relative ease every week. You just can’t do anything with him anymore. His continued presence on TV is nothing more than treading water, and for a company that lost a third of its value in the stock market, treading water is the same as dying.
It’s time for new blood to come and bury the Demon. Let the Wyatts finish the job with him. Do it with style and grace and let it be a great storyline. But, please, bury Kane so his character can rest in peace.
What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.