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Amazin' Kane

by Phil Speer

As Kane arrived at the Savvis Center in St. Louis on Sunday before the No Mercy Pay-Per-View, he realized something.  "I was thinking, 'This is where the whole Kane thing started,'" he said.

It was four years ago this month, in St. Louis, that Kane made his unforgettable debut in the World Wrestling Federation. It was during an unforgettable match -- Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels in the first (and, many say, best) Hell in a Cell. Accompanied by his manager/father Paul Bearer, who had only recently revealed that Undertaker's assumed-to-be-dead brother was in fact still alive, Kane ripped the door off the cell, entered the ring and stood eye-to-eye with the Phenom at the apex of the Badd Blood Pay-Per-View.

"It's such a small thing now, but at the time, him ripping the door off the cage -- nobody did stuff like that," said Triple H, who was at the event. "Not knowing who he was, him going in there and doing something to the Undertaker was a huge moment."

Asked what he remembers about that night -- Oct. 5, 1997, -- the Big Red Machine said, "Going out to the ring, my main concern was that, they (Michaels and Undertaker) had such a great match, that I didn't screw the whole thing up. To be involved in that, to come along at a time when our business was in the process of skyrocketing, of taking off again, I've been fortunate."

He doesn't really talk -- he has in the last year or so, but not much," Triple H said. "So he doesn't really cut promos (speak on the microphone). It's a 'gimmick' in that it's not a real-life character with the basic ups and downs of everyday life. He's got a mask on. He's got no facial expressions. To me the amount of emotions that Kane draws out of the crowd with his face hidden -- they can not see his facial reactions to things -- that's a testament to him and how talented he is as a performer."

Indeed, it is Kane's talent and work ethic that has been the key to his success in the Federation.


What Kane can do is communicate with non-verbal behavior. He's mastered the art of the subtle head-turn to express his feelings. When he tilted his head slightly Monday on RAW during his segment with Diamond Dallas Page, fans knew that it was on. Soon, DDP was the victim of a chokeslam.

And then there's his God-given athletic ability -- which is amazing for a man of his size.

"I first saw Kane in Smoky Mountain Wrestling, and I came back and told Vince (McMahon) that I saw what I perceived to be a future star," Ross said. "An extremely large, powerful human being that was a real good athlete. For a big guy, he was really exceptional. He does some things that 6-foot-10, 325-pound guys just don't do."

Work ethic

Several months ago, rumors circulated there was a different superstar under the Kane mask. But "Kane" has been the same Kane since day one. The difference is that, over the years, he has gotten into better and better shape.

"I work hard in the gym. I try to eat right and do all those things," Kane said. "It's just years of working towards a goal, trying to be in the top physical shape that you can be in. Actually, I'm (about 15 pounds) heavier now than I was when I debuted, but my body fat is lower, which is something that everybody's trying to do, especially in this business."

That's just one example of Kane's commitment to excellence.

"What's made him good is that he's had that willingness to work hard and to try to improve," Ross said. "He's become a true student of the game. Nobody works harder than he does. Nobody prepares any harder than he does. He's worked through a variety of injuries. He's probably one of the most durable, physically and mentally tough guys that we have.

"I've seen a lot of other big guys who had raw potential who just didn't apply themselves - at a certain point, they found a comfort zone, and they quit working to get better. I don't think that Kane is, by any stretch of the imagination, as good as he's going to be.

He's improved in every sense of the game since he debuted. I have a tremendous amount of respect for this man. I wish everybody in our locker room and everybody that we recruit would have his work ethic and character. He's a credit to the business."

With his talent and work ethic, Kane is entering his fifth year as a prominent part of Federation telecasts. He's been World Wrestling Federation Champion -- albeit only for one day -- Federation Hardcore and Tag Team Champion and even WCW Tag Team Champion. He also beat Triple H in a memorable Chain match at this year's Judgment Day Pay-Per-View, in a match he calls one of the highlights of his career, to claim the Intercontinental Title.

And in spite of the fact that he wears a mask and is closely associated with the Undertaker, Kane has been able to advance as a character. Whereas he was originally mute and "impervious to pain," Kane speaks time to time, and he has even shown vulnerability.

He's also shown a comedic side. It would've been unthinkable four years ago that he'd be singing karaoke or riding a scooter in a Stacker 2 commercial, cooking dinner in a Chef Boyardee commercial, or appearing in a commercial at all for that matter.

"I still think one of the funniest things ever was the interview with Chris Benoit where I said I was never picked last in kickball," Kane said. "That's something that I think shocked people. That and the commercials that I've done -- people would have never thought Kane could do stuff like that, and it still works."

Could the Kane character continue to evolve by losing the mask? Every few months, rumors pop up that it's going to happen. But it hasn't yet.

"I have mixed feelings about it," Kane said. "There are advantages and there are disadvantages. On one hand, (the mask) is what makes the character unique. But on the other hand, as we've seen throughout the years -- take for example Undertaker -- he's always been able to evolve and adapt over 10 years. He's not the same character that he was 10 years ago.

"I don't know. It all depends on how it would benefit Kane and benefit the World Wrestling Federation."

What Kane knows for sure is that he still has goals that he wants to accomplish, although they're not specific.

"Being the best that I can be," he said. "That's sort of an abstract thing, but that's something that everybody should try to do, to be at their peak performance. That's not a concrete thing like saying, 'winning the Federation Championship.' It's just that self-fulfillment of knowing that you've done the best you can - the best that you can potentially can be. And that's not only in wrestling. That's something that everybody should be able to relate to in life."

But whatever the future holds, Kane has already made his mark in the Federation.

"It doesn't surprise me that he's been here four years," Triple H said. "It won't surprise me in another four when he's still here and he's still one of the top guys in the business, because he's one of the best performers in the industry. He's one of the better big men that there has ever been in the business. He's gonna be around and be successful for a long, long time."

Said Kane, "Some of the fan mail that I get -- I can't always answer it, but some of it is very profound. For example, I got a letter from a lady who had been cut when she was a child, in the face, and had a very significant scar. She talked about what the Kane character means as far as overcoming things like that. That stuff is pretty strong and it tugs at your heart for sure. I'm glad I've had the opportunity to entertain people and to affect people in that manner."

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