In an exclusive interview with PWMania.com‘s Scott Mitchell (@ScottsScoop44), WWE Hall of Famer Kane (Glenn Jacobs) opened up about his time in the WWE, a possible retirement match, working with The Undertaker, his upcoming A&E WWE Biography special, and so much more.
What was it like making your WWE debut, and did you know how big of a legend that the Kane character would become when all was said and done?
“No, I didn’t actually. I was just trying to get through that night. That’s the case throughout most of my WWE career. I was more worried about getting from Albany to Binghamton, more than anything else. So much of it was a blur because we were busy trying to put on the best show that we could and trying to get from point A to point B and all that stuff. That night, I was very nervous and very apprehensive. Not only was I getting thrust into an amazing opportunity, becoming the brother of The Undertaker and it doesn’t get any bigger than that, but also it was the first Hell in a Cell match. Of course, none of us knew how big the Hell in a Cell match would become. Nevertheless, we had this iconic match between the top 2 superstars in WWE who up until that point, had never wrestled. There was all this stuff, and up until that point, my major thought was just don’t mess this up. Undertaker and Shawn Michaels are going to have a five-star match, and it’s going to be awesome. Then you’re going to go out there and the focus is going to shift from that amazing match to this new thing. I knew I could pull it off, but there was that little voice in the back of my head saying it was the chance of a lifetime and not to mess it up. Luckily, it all turned out well and almost 30 years later, here we are.”
You referred to it yourself as the greatest story WWE has ever told. I’ve heard many people refer to that as well. But, what was it like to work with The Undertaker and get to live out your journey alongside him?
“It was amazing. Undertaker was my favorite superstar before I got into the WWE. He debuted right around the time I broke into the wrestling business. He’s always been my favorite. He was a big guy like me, and the character was amazing. He was the first big guy to combine size and athleticism that he did. There were a lot of big guys who couldn’t do the stuff he could do. Ultimately, not only was it of course a tremendous character and concept, but it was the fact that you had this guy who was 6’10, 300lbs, could walk across the top rope, and he’ll tell you himself he would move very methodically and did a lot of things a human being his size wouldn’t be able too. I have a great deal of respect for him as a performer before I even really got into the business. Then, when I was around him for a few years, all the stuff about him being the locker room leader is all true. He was the guy you didn’t want to disappoint, I remember one night I felt terrible because he was hurt and still went out and did a half an hour match. He was in pain and did the best that he could. He didn’t have to, he’s The Undertaker, he’s been there for 20 years and if he wanted to phone it in, nobody would say anything. Then I went out there and I worked hard, but I was like man, here he is. That was the moment when I decided I would never phone it in either. If he could go out there and wrestle at a high-level hurt, then we all could. Frankly, he is an idol. To be able to work with him, that closely and develop a close relationship with him, is just something dreams are made out of.”
One of the most iconic moments in Raw history was the night when you took your mask off for the first time. What was it like having that character imagine change?
“I was pumped about it. It was a change. I felt that Kane had gotten rather stale. The mask while it was a great asset because it provided a mystique and mystery that nobody else had, and also because we use our face a lot to show people emotion which is what WWE is all about and getting the audience to feel what you feel, I couldn’t do that they way I wanted to because of the mask and felt I was pretty limited. I was excited to do it. It was a different character. Kane went from being this physical monster that didn’t talk and the most emotion you got from him was a head tilt, which was very ambiguous and it meant that something bad was about to happen to somebody, to Kane now being a psychological monster. He went from being a Michael Myers to a Hannibal Lecter. To me, that’s more terrifying. Now you have a big, huge guy who is all messed up on the inside although he looked normal on the outside. The scars were on the inside and his psyche. To me, that’s much more terrifying than a masked dude running around. I was excited about it. I didn’t know it would do what it did and that it would be a completely different character. It was almost like debuting and starting all over again, except at a much higher level because you had all this history behind you.”
In 2009, you won the World Heavyweight Championship from Rey Mysterio and went on to have a dominant run on the Smackdown brand. What was it like?
“It was cool. I won the title against Austin at King of the Ring but then lost it the next day. So, to have a much longer run as champion was amazing. I had three pay-per-view matches with The Undertaker. To have the spotlight of the entire company on you in that way, was cool and the pinnacle of a wrestling career. It was cool. Winning the title against Austin, even though I only held it for one day, was still so special. It was at a time when WWE was taking off and going to the moon. Austin was the #1 guy. The night that I lost it in Cleveland, I have never, ever, been in front of an audience that was more electric than the one in Cleveland. It wasn’t me, it was just the situation, but I do think that helped propel the company to the next step. It gave Austin a credible opponent, got the crowd even more behind him, and it was just something that people didn’t see coming. Everyone thought at the end of the King of the Ring show that somehow Kane would set himself on fire, and how they would get out of that. Not that Kane beat Austin and oh my God what happens next.”
The upcoming Kane Biography on A&E takes place on Sunday. What was it like finding out that you were going to get your special episode?
“It’s super cool. To be in that select company is just amazing. Also, seeing my story told, not only from me but from everyone else involved like my parents, my wife, Undertaker, and everyone else, what’s cool about that is I get to relive it along with the audience. There are things I forgot, or I don’t remember, or there’s just stuff I never asked Mark about. They asked him and I was like oh, I didn’t know that. Not cause it never crossed my mind, but just cause I never asked him because we weren’t around when I thought of it. That’s the cool stuff. I know what was going through my mind, but what was going through his mind as well. Even though I was there living it, it just gives me a completely different perspective. A&E does a great job. When this partnership first happened people didn’t know how it would be. But it turned out to be tremendous. The shows are super high quality. I’m a big fan, not only cause they’re doing one about me, but I just love that it’s so high quality and it’s just a lot of fun.”
What was it like to film “Most Wanted Treasures” alongside The Undertaker?
“It was cool. Being there with Mark and reliving some of that stuff. It’s also really cool for the audience because it’s not every day you get to see the Brothers of Destruction out there, and Kane out there joking and reminiscing. You get to see us in a different light and I think that’s cool for everyone.”
There were a lot of mystiques around you and The Undertaker, there was a lot of magic. We see it a little bit today with the likes of Bray Wyatt. What is your opinion and hopes for the future of professional wrestling?
“The wrestling world is like everything else. It’s always evolving and changing. It’s being pushed by consumer desires and what the people want to see. That changes constantly. That’s the struggle, but it’s also the art form. Being able to determine what you think is going to work, then making tweaks as you go along. One of the differences now is the internet. I remember one time Pat Patterson told me he was a wrestler, but the modern WWE performers are superstars. They cross the media and do a lot outside of wrestling. It’s not just wrestling, it’s also a lot of other things. When I first got into the wrestling business you were a wrestler, but now it’s changed. I’m a huge fan also of the women’s division in the WWE. It’s amazing to me. Sometimes the women put on the best match of the night. The athleticism is just unbelievable. I got to see that. I got to see when that started and see what it became. A lot of the other things that changed are the production as a whole in the WWE. We used to go out in a small arena and walk out through a curtain and there were lights and music and that was about it. Now, you go to WrestleMania and it is an over-the-top entertainment spectacle. It’s neat to see the changes. WWE is a great company and they’re very underrated with their performance and their ability to compete, not just in wrestling, but in the entertainment world. It’s some of the best entertainment on the entire planet. It’s interesting to watch the changes and see how WWE keeps evolving and the product keeps getting better and better.”
Your career concluded as it seems. Would you say the door is closed on a potential retirement match?
“I’ll always leave that door open. In WWE we never say never. I don’t know what will happen. I do some stuff here and there in the WWE. That’s a part of me and it’s something I enjoy and want to do for the rest of my life. If it’s something in the ring, I don’t know. Maybe you have to ask Kane that question.”
Being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, what did that mean to you?
“It’s the pinnacle of what we do. There aren’t that many people in it. To be honored like that with people I watched, and idolized as a kid growing up like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and of course Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, and Bruno Sammartino, it’s hard to believe that I’m in there too. It’s hard for me to think I belong in that group. It’s a tremendous compliment, and still, even now it’s almost surreal to even think about.”