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How good is your cardio?  ...Or cut Kane some slack
By Jeb Lund, Online Onslaught

Internet pundits and message-board posters have officially gone off the deep end. Instead of focusing on Triple H's savagely moronic "I know you're a murderer" promo, they are leaping all over Kane's push. Kane is too slow, too dull, not right for the main event, boring and bad. Bullshit. Kane is an asset for the WWE, a good worker, and his face push should be applauded.

Let's look at the basics about Kane.

Background

1. He's got the best chokeslam in the business. Undertaker needs help from everyone he puts in the "goozle." Opponents obviously jump up for him, and even then his hold looks tenuous. He barely gets them up to his chest before losing control and letting go. He looks weak; gravity does most of the work, and the opponents do most of the rest. Big Show, while powerful, holds them up and then lets them fall. It's an impressive display of strength, but it makes the move slower, less jarring, almost passive. Kevin Nash? Let's just say his delivery in commercials for the "Pros at Chiro-Med" (a Florida chiropractic clinic he endorses) has more power and intensity than his chokeslam. And I think we can skip The Hurricane. Kane, on the other hand, whips opponents up and then immediately torques them down to the ground. The force he exerts downward on their necks is strong enough that almost every opponent is fully parallel to the mat when they slam into it. It looks like he's tossing them around by a very sensitive junction in their anatomy.

2. He's got a great work-rate. Although injury prone, Kane doesn't get blown up easily in the ring. (Most of his extended "bailing out" spots come in tag matches and are determined by his character, not his abilities. He's a powerful monster: thus, he has to be ejected from the ring for the other wrestlers to struggle and shine. He's such a force in the ring that his presence would exclude another wrestler's value or involvement.) For my part, I have never seen him winded, with the exception of his 70-minute run in the Royal Rumble in 2001. There he naturally had to take rest breaks, but even those were determined a lot by storylines. Again, had Kane not taken a powder periodically, it would have looked stupid if he had stood around not ejecting people when they clearly couldn't eject him.

3. He has a good work ethic. For someone who jobbed ad infinitum to X-Pac and scores of other jobbers and bastards, Kane has never been a source of backstage drama. He doesn't seem to complain, and he shows up when not injured. Pretty creditable, considering the guy has spent five years virtually silent... and has had to play both "The Fake Diesel" and "Isaac Yankem, D.D.S."

4. He has a perfectly decent move-set. I am not a fan of "big" wrestlers in general, but I have a sympathetic understanding of their limitations. I don't expect giants to flip around with moonsaults and Shooting Star Presses. Granted, I am thrilled when they can, but I think that being a hulking monster is sufficient enough character and action for a wrestler. But Kane offers more. Although he's never learned to properly sell the Walls of Jericho, he always sells moves when they count. (Yes, he no-sells some moves; but, again, that's a character factor, not something he's decided suddenly to do.) He uses psychology better than any other big man currently in the WWE. Furthermore, his offense is solid. Kane throws the best punches in the WWE. They look stiff, painful just as they should look. Yet he does not hurt people; or at least I cannot remember him ever hurting someone in the ring. Compare that to RVD, who has a long record of hurting other wrestlers, yet has an offense comprised of moves that look much more hurtful to him than anyone else. In spite of that, people praise RVD's offense to the heavens. Personally, I'm much more afraid of someone who can throw a devastating-looking punch than someone who can flip their back toward me. ("I'm attacking you with my spine! I am a deadly genius!") In short, Kane's offense is kind of like the Millennium Falcon: it may not look like much, but it's got it where it counts.

5. He's obviously fit. The guy went out for months, with an injury, and came back thinner. When was the last time that happened? When he could have eroded his physical conditioning in favor of rehabbing one body part, he clearly chose the harder, healthier road. Given that internet opinion-makers are generally not the fittest individuals, I find their slights on his work-rate damnably hypocritical and not just a little bit stupid.

The Push

Kane is the only person in the Raw brand who can take on Triple H with any shred of credibility. Booker T is mired in the mid-card due to unfortunate booking. Jericho, who does have a long-standing feud, has not been poised in the main event recently, and has no recorded wins over Triple H in pay-per-views. Big Show is out. And even though I would love to see Bubba Ray in a main event (if at least to vindicate my first column for OnlineOnslaught), he is obviously too far out of the main-event PPV picture.

That leaves Kane, a monster. But the aspects of his push are what really puts him in the forefront.

I know I'm leaving out RVD's name, but there is a reason. Primarily, RVD is coasting on moves and cheers. Driving ambition and unstoppable desire just do not apply to him. If he were in the main event for the upcoming PPV, the salient question would be: why? A rematch, yes. But why? Why did he have the original match in the first place?

With Kane, the answers are easy. He's a former champion and a freak. He celebrates his differentness, and, judging by reactions, a lot of viewers do, too. Kane's blazing a trail for the outcasts, the downtrodden or the forgotten. What's not to like about that story? Anyone who has felt marginalized or abnormal can celebrate his attempts to justify himself to the world. Anyone who has been the underdog not for a lack of talent or ability but for a lack of appearance or style can easily find a hero in Kane.

His push is reasonable and just. Combining the story elements with his power, work-rate, work ethic, moves and devotion merely compounds the justifications for his current position.

There are only two substantial worries confronting Kane's main-event status, but those are easily dismissed.

First, some might complain that he does not have enough crowd appeal. This is neither his fault, nor is it substantive. Kane, as a face, has always received decent pops but has very rarely been the beneficiary of decent storylines. Injuries, compounded by ludicrous unexplained heel turns and pointless shuntings into the tag division or the lower mid-card have been the primary reasons for his stifled pops. The crowd learns a negative Pavlovian response, just as any dog will if you hit it frequently enough. Basically, the crowd has been taught not to cheer too much for Kane, in main events, because it will amount to nothing in the following week when he's jobbed to Test for the Hardcore title... or something else.

Second, some may worry that Kane has bad PPV matches. Here's one hyphenated rejoinder for you: X-Pac. Fair enough, but his matches with Jericho were less than great. Uh... that's sort of subjective. In one, Jericho blew a major spot, but the other was solid. The main problem is that both were based on the spilling of a cup of coffee. Finally, most of his main events have been with the Undertaker. No one likes to see two lumbering masses. When not paired with the Undertaker, Kane has put on a good show. Just look to the Rumble 2001, and that's all the illustration you need.

Bring the Patience

Kane has been the unfortunate subject of many a lazy WWE booking experiment from Brothers of Destruction, to Annihilator of Mr. Coffee, to I'm-Good-but-Now-I'm-Bad-for-No-Reason-I-Can-Explain- Because-I-Am-The-Mute-Commander-of-Fire, to Hater of X-Pac, to random big guy. But, currently in the Raw brand, there is only one undamaged face ready to step up to the main event. With the combination of a solid work-rate and an inspiring and fun storyline, Kane belongs in the main event. Booking and injury factors are finally in his favor. It would be a shame if the WWE treated this as yet another fluke experiment. It will be a worse shame if the fans disbelieve without ever letting a fun story have the chance to interest or delight them.

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