Kane Talks WrestleMania Memories and The Undertaker, Why He Wanted to Remove His Mask, More
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WWE Superstar Kane recently did an in-depth interview with the Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling Podcast for what’s described as his most candid interview to date. You can download the entire 50 minute episode on iTunes at this link on on Player.FM at this link. You can also visit the official Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling website. Below are some highlights from the interview:
What are your most memorable thoughts reflecting on your participation at WrestleMania?
My most memorable WrestleMania ever was my first; At WrestleMania 14 in Boston against The Undertaker that was a huge high point in my career and an absolute highlight of my career. The next year I wrestled Triple H when DX was breaking up and that led to me and Xpac becoming partners and that was a really great time, after that was WrestleMania that was in Anaheim and I was teaming with Rikishi against X-Pac and his partner, which actually is terrible of me but I can’t remember who his partner was. Then the next year it was against Kurt Angle and after that another match with The Undertaker, there has been a lot of stuff.
What is your favorite WrestleMania match?
For me personally it was WrestleMania 14 against Undertaker. I believe that the story of Undertaker and Kane was some of the most epic storytelling WWE he’s ever done. It was something out of Greek Mythology and of course that was the culmination of that whole story and for that reason it made it very special. As for my favorite match as a fan, I would have to say that was Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 25. If I were to tell anyone, that would be the match that I would point them to. In my opinion it is the greatest match in history and it is just incredible what those two guys did, two absolute icons of our industry and they put on a spectacular performance.
Wrestling Undertaker again at WrestleMania 20?
That one was special because Undertaker had just come back after a hiatus a it was the first time he had been seen and it was completely different than the first WrestleMania match. That was two supernatural figures duking it out essentially and leaving a path of waste wherever they went. Whereas WrestleMania 20 was a little more conventional and that you had just a bad guy versus a very popular good guy so in that respect the build was different and certainly my character was different so if you ask is it one of my favorites? I would take WrestleMania 14 over WrestleMania 20.
Were you always a wrestling fan growing up?
I grew up in rural Missouri about two hours north of St. Louis and if the wind was blowing right on a Saturday night I could catch All Star Wrestling out of Kansas City which was run by Bob Geigel and some of the stars there were Bulldog Bob Brower and Ray Candy. Harley Race was based there but Harley was often World Champion so he didn’t wrestle as much there. Once a month though we would go down to my grandmother’s house in St. Louis and at the time in question Wrestling at the Chase was one of the most popular promotions and shows in the country, so once a month I’d get to see all the stars that came through there like Harley Race, Ric Flair and the Von Erich’s. Actually, Baron Von Raschke stands out in my mind because he was such a great villain. Unfortunately, this was before cable TV so I fell off for a while and into high school because I was doing athletics of my own and all that sort of thing but I got back into it at the end of high school and in college. I remember it was at the height of Hulkamania in the late eighties and I still remember going downstairs into a lounge in my dorm room and they were watching Savage vs Steamboat from WrestleMania 3 and I thought it was really awesome. Of course Hogan was on top of the world he was one of biggest things in entertainment and you had the crossover going on with MTV so the WWF was extremely hot and I was always a fan after that. I’ll never forget their first live event I went to at the old Checker-Dome in St. Louis and when Hulk Hogan came out and 10,000 people just lost their minds and I thought to myself that would be really cool to do that and have that sort of impact on somebody. I always thought that it was great athletics and great drama combined into one and I am a fan of both of those.
How did you break into the Wrestling business?
I was playing college football and I hurt my knee very badly my senior year and I didn’t want to get a real job. I am a fan of the wrestling stuff and because it was pretty hot at the time, I said I am going to go try that (wrestling). I was still trying to play football and at the time the now defunct “World League” was still around but my football future looked very dim and I got involved with a local (wrestling) group and probably didn’t learn great stuff but things that would hamper me down the road as far as the business actually works. But nevertheless, through networking that’s how I met Dutch Mantell (Zeb Coulture) at an Independent show in Southern Illinois and he helped me out. I ended up going to The Malenko Wrestling Academy which was run by Dean (Malenko) but Dean wasn’t spending much time there because he was in Japan but I had the great fortune of being with Larry Simon (The Great Malenko) and I actually got to live with him for about six months. That helped me out tremendously. Eventually, I would go back and forth to Japan for Fujiwara Gumi which was a shoot fighting organization and from there Dutch called for me one day and said that he’d like to bring me to Puerto Rico, so that was my first full-time job and that was in 1994. I spent about nine months working for Carlos Colon and then Dutch was able to get me in with Jim Cornette and Smoky Mountain Wrestling.
Working with the Rock N’ Roll Express in Smoky Mountain Wrestling?
I learned so much from those guys, especially Ricky Morton. As far as being one of the greatest baby-faces of all time, Ricky Morton is and he really taught me a lot. All those guys who had been around so long like Tracy Smothers, Tony Anthony and Al Snow learning from them the inside the ring performance aspect of the business is not something you can learn by going to a wrestling school.
Working for Jim Cornette?
Jim wasn’t spending a lot of time with us; he was up in the WWF with the Heavenly Bodies.
So it was sort of hit or miss. Jim has a great mind for the business and I think his absence really hurt Smoky Mountain Wrestling because he just wasn’t there to do it every day. At that point he had other fish to fry, but nevertheless you are talking bout a guy that understands especially that particular area and that particular crowd, the “Southern” wrestling, Jim gets it and Smoky Mountain Wrestling was a great example. The motto was “how it ought to be and how you like it” and Jim certainly understood that. But it was a lot of fun working there and a lot of fun working for him.
Taking Kane’s mask off:
Actually, it was my idea because I did feel it was at the point where the mask was restricting what I could do. People ask what the advantages are of wearing a mask and the first thing of course is the mystery people don’t know exactly what Kane is thinking. Taking it off, it also made me a much better performer and that really is what our business is all about. What do you do with the emotion of the audience? Do you want them to you empathize with what you’re doing if you’re the bad guy? You want them to hate you. If you are the good guy, you want them to have sympathy for you. It could be thought of as a form of communication in that respect and because I didn’t have my face, which is how we normally show emotion. I had to rely a lot more on body language and I think that really helped me because I had to concentrate on that and had to think of different ways to be able to betray that emotion without using my face. But then I’m thinking it became a hindrance because at a certain point the novelty is gone and at a certain point it’s time for us all to move along and I think that the most successful characters and most successful people in WWE have been able to reinvent themselves. We see that with Undertaker. He has always been able to reinvent himself and tweak his characters or sometimes change it entirely or Shawn Michaels. The Shawn Michaels that we see today or the one right before he retired is not the Shawn Michaels from 1995. Triple H is that way, John Cena is that way. It is just the nature of our business. Eventually, the novelty is going to wear off. The only people who are behind that decision probably were the only two people that counted and that was Vince and I. Everyone else is of the opinion if it isn’t broke don’t fix it but I think Vince had enough confidence in me as performer that he knew I could pull off and I knew that I could pull it off as well. Not to say there was some trepidation because it is true that if you have something successful you don’t want to mess with it. To me it wasn’t that huge deal because you know you could always put the mask back on, which we would eventually do. At the time it was a pretty big risk and what it did actually was gave me an entirely new career and an entirely new character. It allowed me to do things that I had not been able to be before. Which always makes my job a lot more fun.