The lights get off. The sand darkens. The pyro roars. The music plays. And the red glow shines on the stage and in the ring. Everyone knows who is behind the curtain.
That has to be Kane.
«The Big Red Machine» was one of the creepiest characters in all of professional wrestling at the height of the Attitude Era in WWE, then known as the World Wrestling Federation. By the time Kane stepped into the ring, fans knew he was going to make a fuss and bodies would be strewn across the platform.
Glenn Jacobs, the current mayor of Knox County, Tennessee, known primarily for his time as wrestling star Kane, made his debut as the masked character in Bad Blood in 1997 after weeks of building up and being heralded as the The Undertaker’s brother. He was packaged as an arsonist who survived a traumatic incident involving The Undertaker, whom he billed as Kane’s half-brother.
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At Bad Blood, The Undertaker faced Shawn Michaels in the first ever Hell in a Cell match. Kane made his debut that same night and ripped the cage door off his hinges to step into the ring and put the fear of God on The Undertaker and the rest of the WWE Universe.
Jacobs told Fox News Digital in a recent interview that he was «fueled» to be repackaged as Kane after a handful of failed stunts during his first run with the company. He was initially put off by early ideas for the character until he helped make it his own.
«I was excited because he was the brother of The Undertaker and you can’t ask for anything better than that. That’s literally the Holy Grail of WWE characters,» he said. «When I first saw the character in the concept art, I was a bit thrown off because that’s not what I had in mind for the character. That’s not what Undertaker had for the character and some other people I’d talked to. We all thought he’d be a lot more gritty and look like Michael Myers or Jason Vorhees, you know, someone who’d been institutionalized and escaped or something.
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«Vince McMahon’s idea was that Kane was really hiding his flaws and compensating for all the things that weakened him and all that kind of thing by being a superhero and the operative word with Kane was not evil, actually, he was great. You wanted Kane to look cool and be cool. And that was one of the times that I realized that Vince was a genius because he had taken what was superficial psychology on our part and gone much deeper and into the mind of this character already deeper than «I did it. If we had done the Jason Vorhees appearance, Michael Myers, it would have been fine, but that’s been done before. But the character of Kane and the look of Kane was completely different, I think, from anything that’s actually been done.»
April of 1997 really began Kane’s buildup coming to a head with The Undertaker. Legendary manager Paul Bearer helped the hype when he threatened to reveal a secret The Undertaker had been keeping for years and then told him Kane was alive and he was coming.
Jacobs explained that he knew the character was going to work when his music came on and fans were stunned into silence.
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«It was in that moment to go out there and get that kind of reaction and really a connection with the audience because there’s that moment of silence when everyone’s trying to figure out what’s going on,» he said. «And then there was this collective… Vince is yelling it over the headphones, but I think everyone was already affected, ‘That’s got to be Kane!’ good?
«Just to have that moment and that kind of connection, then you realize… That was the first time in my career that I was like, ‘Oh wow, that’s really what it’s like to be a WWE superstar. I knew it was going to be a big deal at the time. Of course, I didn’t realize that I was going to last 20+ years and be able to do all the really cool stuff that I was able to do. But I mean, again, knowing initially that you were going to work with Undertaker, you knew it was going to be successful. It was just a matter of how successful and how long it was going to be, how long it was going to continue.»
Jacobs really had to go through all nine circles of hell to get to the top of WWE. He was Unabomb, Isaac Yankem, DDS, and was packaged as fake Diesel after Kevin Nash left the company to join World Championship Wrestling and launch his career with the NWO.
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Jacobs told Fox News Digital that his passion for the business and doing whatever it took to achieve it outweighed his disappointment in the other non-working characters, and in that he shared a valuable life lesson.
«First of all, being a WWE Superstar in any capacity is a great occupation. It really is,» Jacobs said. «While it may not have been exactly what I wanted as far as creativity, however, I’m doing something that I really enjoyed doing that not many people get the opportunity to do.
«And also, I realized that I could prove my value to the company by just showing up to work every day, working hard, having a good attitude, doing the things I had to do, and eventually, hopefully, my break would come.» Same thing in life, right? If you just do the right things, eventually, hopefully, an opportunity presents itself. It doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed, but it could be and that’s always been my attitude: if I stick with it In it, eventually I would have that great opportunity. I thought that was when I first came to WWE, and of course it was a big step forward, not exactly where I wanted to be but a big step forward nonetheless.
«I think it’s actually a life lesson, not just about my career, but about life in general. There are a lot of people who have been in much worse situations than I have and move on and eventually find massive success.» «
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The mythology of Kane and Jacobs’ rise will be chronicled in the latest episode of «Biography: WWE Legends» on A&E Sunday at 8 pm ET/PT.