Former WWE superstar and current Mayor of Knox Tennessee Glenn Jacob (Kane) spoke to Sports Illustrated about all things pro-wrestling. Highlights are below.
On his original character name and debuting at Bad Blood:
Undertaker needed an opponent for an upcoming pay per view. I was working in USWA at the time for Jerry Lawler, and I can’t remember if it was Bruce Prichard or Jim Cornette who called me, but I was told to stand by. I got another call later that week and I was told Vince really liked this idea and it wasn’t going to be a one-off, that it’s was going to be a storyline. From there, we were off to the races. The original name of the character was Inferno. I didn’t like that very much. I though it sounded cartoonish. Bruce Prichard always liked the name Kane, and I liked it, too. It played off Cain and Abel in the Bible, the good brother and the bad brother, and we pitched that. The name got changed, we finally figured out the outfit, and then I had my debut at the [Badd Blood] pay per view. I was really excited. I felt I wasn’t going to be successful in my other characters, but this was one where, if I couldn’t be successful as Kane working against The Undertaker, then that was on me. This was my big break, the one everyone dreams about.
Being nervous prior to interrupting the match between Taker and Michaels:
I was scared to death. It’s not only Undertaker in the ring, but also Shawn Michaels, two top guys. This is also the first time a Hell in a Cell match had ever been done. We walked to the ring earlier in the day—myself, Vince, Bruce Prichard, Jim Cornette and Mark—and we talked about how we wanted it to go down. I didn’t really say much, I listened. Mark was the one who came up with the idea of throwing my hands up and igniting the ring posts. As The Undertaker, Mark would bring his hands up to bring light to the arena. Kane was supposed to be the opposite of The Undertaker, so everything The Undertaker would do, Kane should do the opposite. That’s how we came up with the idea for pyro. I was cool by that point, but as I started watching their match, that’s when I saw it was a classic and I stood a really good chance at spoiling this awesome match. I was really nervous about it. Luckily, like you said, I had a mask on and you couldn’t see my face. But there was a pretty high heart rate and a lot of heavy breathing, believe me.
Paul Bearer playing a huge role:
Enormously important. Paul was the guy who bridged The Undertaker and Kane. Months before Kane ever debuted, Paul Bearer was the one planting the seeds in people’s minds. Then the focus shifts to Undertaker versus Shawn Michaels in the first-ever Hell in a Cell, so people forgot about Kane. Then the plot came full circle that particular night. WWE is a team. It takes an effort to build a character. So how do you elevate this new character that is largely unknown to the level of The Undertaker? How do you do that without diminishing The Undertaker? Mick Foley was a big part of the rivalry. Another person who helped was Vader, who was willing to let me elevate myself to get to a different level. They were very important in getting Kane to the level the character needed to be.
Attacking Pete Rose at WrestleMania 14:
I actually don’t know whose idea it was. I assume it was Vince’s. I didn’t know anything about it until that day. It was funny, Paul Bearer’s argument was, “Wait. Kane is the heel. This is going to turn him babyface before his match with The Undertaker.” But we were pretty sure the crowd would still look at Undertaker as the good guy and Kane as the bad guy. It was one of those deals where it was a moment of levity and added to the entertainment value.
Advice Undertaker gave him that lit a fire under him:
It happened before I became Kane. We had a match when I was Isaac Yankem, D.D.S. and it was horrible. It was all my fault, and it was a terrible match. I was having a lot of trouble. I wasn’t happy and it showed. Mark pulled me aside after the match and basically said, “Look dude, Vince likes you. I like you. But unless you get your butt in gear, you’re going to be out of here. You belong here, now starting act like it.” That lit a fire under me, and it’s probably the most important moment of my wrestling career.
Similarities between Daniel Bryan and Undertaker:
A lot, actually. They’re both very passionate about what they do, and they’re both very dedicated. Each, in his own way, has been able to take the gifts they have been given and utilize those, maybe more so than anyone else ever has. In Mark’s case, it’s his size and his athleticism. Daniel’s the opposite. He’s obviously a great athlete, but he’s been able to take that underdog approach, being a smaller guy, and make the absolute most of that. They’re kind of mirror opposites, but in the end, they’re the same—they are both consummate professionals who always do the best they can.