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Jun 17, 2016

One on One with WWE Supesrtar KANE

Hours before making his return to television this past Monday, WWE Superstar Kane took time to talk with our resident wrestling expert, VP of Digital & Brand Strategy Jeramie McPeek.

The 49-year-old, real name Glenn Jacobs, has spent more than 20 years in the WWE ring, and wrestled more than a dozen matches in Phoenix over that time. In fact, the 7-footer is one of only two wrestlers (Chris Jericho) to have performed in every WWE pay-per-view to have ever been held in Arizona.

Kane and the WWE return to Talking Stick Resort Arena this coming Monday, June 20, with a live broadcast of Monday Night RAW. 

McPEEK: Thank you for taking a few minutes for us. I’ve got to ask up front, should I call you Kane, or Glenn or Mr. Jacobs?

KANE: You can call me Mr. Jacobs if you want, but Kane is fine.

McPEEK: I’ve always wondered, what do you guys call each other backstage? Do you go by your wrestling names or real names?

KANE: It depends. Sometimes, just like in other sports, it’s nicknames that no one outside of the arena knows. So it really just depends.

McPEEK: I know you’ve had a lot of names over your career. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say Christmas Creature?

KANE: It looked like the Swamp Thing. You know, it’s funny. Because of the internet now, you do something for a week or two weeks, which is what that (gimmick) was, and all of a sudden it’s your “first thing.” Back in the day, it wasn’t like that, but now days, everybody knows everything about me, in fact things that I’ve forgotten. And there are things that I would prefer to forget too (laughs). On the one hand, it’s really cool because I can go back and look through, and say, “Oh, that’s really neat. I did that?” And on the other hand, it’s like “Ugh, I wish I hadn’t been reminded of that.”

McPEEK: I went back and watched some of your old matches and found the Christmas Creature, as well as a match you had against Sting in WCW

KANE: (Laughs) Yeah, my one day in WCW.

McPEEK: How about Isaac Yankem? What do you think of when you hear that name?

KANE: Unfortunately, when I came to WWE and that was my first character, it just didn’t work very well because it was at the end of an era, and the beginning of a new one, which was the prelude to the Attitude Era. So, it just didn’t work and it wasn’t something that I was a really fond of either. It wasn’t something that, pardon the pun, I could really sink my teeth into. So that’s one of those deals when I look back, I’d rather forget about that one.

McPEEK: I’ve got to ask you about “Fake Diesel.” Did you and Kevin Nash ever talk about that character you played for a brief time?

KANE: No, we never have really, because it’s just business. That was something that I think actually could have worked, but it just kind of went off the rails. Jim Ross was going to turn bad guy and try to prove that he could run the company by bringing in imposter superstars. But I think part of the problem was that JR just wasn’t cut out to be a bad guy. The audience liked him too much to buy into the bitter, mean JR. So that was, unfortunately, probably doomed from the beginning, as well.

McPEEK: I’ve got a 15-year-old son, who is a big WWE fan and he wanted me to ask, what were your thoughts when you first heard that you were going to become Kane, the brother of the Undertaker?

KANE: Well, of course, that was very exciting because it was an opportunity to wrestle the Undertaker. What’s interesting about the evolution of Kane is that it really went from something that we call a “hot shot” (angle) in our business, sort of a one off deal. And then I think Vince (McMahon) liked the idea so much that they decided to build a lot of equity into it, and really go with it more than just, “This is the Undertaker’s next opponent.”

So then you saw Paul Bearer talking about Kane, but you don’t see Kane for months afterwards. And when you finally do at the Hell in a Cell “In Your House” pay-per-view in St. Louis in October of 1997, it was amazing. It was just great storyline because the seeds had been planted long before that, and people had almost forgotten about it by that time, because they’d gotten wrapped up, rightfully so, in the Undertaker-Shawn Michaels story. It was one of those surprises where, in the back of their mind they might have known if was going to happen, but WWE had done such a good job of not showing their hand that the pay-off was great and, frankly, might have been the best debut ever. I come out in this brand-new match, which had never been done before, rip the door off the Hell in a Cell and go in and destroy the Undertaker with his own move, the Tombstone Piledriver. IT doesn’t eraly get much better than that.

That’s the long version, but nevertheless, it was very exciting to know the potential of what the character was going to be able to do.

McPEEK: I read your Wikipedia bio to prepare for this interview and I was amazed at how many twists and turns, and chapters their have been to the story between you and Taker over the years. Have you ever gone and read your Wikipedia bio?

KANE: I’ve read parts of it. You know, parts of it aren’t accurate, but parts of it are. The WWE stuff is pretty accurate, but the early stuff is hit or miss. But again, the people who have edited the Wikipedia profile know more about me than I do, I think, which is disconcerting in some ways.

McPEEK: What is the craziest storyline that you were ever a part of?

KANE: I’ve been in a quite few. The whole Lita, Edge, Snitsky storyline was something else. It turned into Days of Our Lives combined with like a fantasy storyline. It really took some twists and turns, and part of that was because of the real-life twists and turns with what happened between Lita and Edge and Matt Hardy. So it wasn’t just the in-ring stuff, but things that were happening outside of the ring impacted the story that we were telling inside of WWE.

McPEEK: Do you know how many championships you’ve held over the years?

KANE: I think someone told me 18, but I’m not sure.

McPEEK: That’s right! I know some guys keep replicas of their championships. Do you have the belts that you’ve won, or any mementos that you’ve saved over the years?

KANE: I don’t. I’m not really a sentimental person, by that I mean, just keeping stuff. I used to collect all my figurines and that stuff, but after a while, it felt like I was very self-centered because I had this room downstairs where I had all this stuff. I mean, just filled, because WWE has all this stuff. So it was a room filled with action figures and toys, and all this different stuff. I was like, “Wow, I feel like I am promoting myself in my own basement.”

I have some pictures that are special to me. I have one that is signed by (Stone Cold Steve) Austin, which is really cool. That’s the stuff that really appeals to me more.  Like you mentioned Wikipedia, just going back and reading, and remembering some of the stuff, and the people that were a part of it. That’s the stuff, the memories that’s what’s important to me.

McPEEK: You’ve worn a number of different masks over the years. Do you have a favorite?

KANE: I think the original mask was my favorite. It wasn’t my favorite to work in, because that was the one that covered my entire face. That one was a little more uncomfortable. So I liked it when we got to where the chin and mouth were open, and I could breathe a little better. But over the years, I’ve changed. The mask used to be leather. Now it’s a latex mold, so it’s more comfortable than the original one was. But, I mean, the original, it was the thing. It was really awesome!

McPEEK: It was awesome, but I imagine being made of leather, it probably smelled after a while.

KANE: (Laughs). Yeah, yeah. Especially, you know, we’re on the road a lot. We probably work 250 days a year, so you can imagine. It would take its share of abuse, unfortunately, especially with the leather one, because there was only one place that made that. With this latex one, I can just call the place. They’ve got the mold and they can basically pour it in, paint it and send it to me. That one was a little different. The production process was quite a bit longer and more intricate. So it wasn’t like I could call and just have one shipped a week later. Point being, I never really had that many of them for that reason. So the ones that I had, let’s just put it… they were well worn.

McPEEK: I did a little research and realized that you are one of only two superstars who have wrestled in every single WWE pay-per-view held in our building or in our state, if you include WrestleMania in 2010. Do you have memories of any of those events, or do they all just blur together?

KANE: Oh my god. I didn’t know that. I have a couple. One, I don’t think it was  pay-per-view. I think it was just a Monday Night RAW, but I gave the Phoenix Suns Gorilla a tombstone piledriver. Were you there for that one?

McPEEK: I was there.

KANE: I love the Gorilla, by the way. I’m sorry about that everybody, but you know, it was back in the day.

And then also, I can’t remember if it was for a championship or not, but I just remember Rey Mysterio and I had a match there that I thought was really well done, and I was really happy with. It might have even been a street fight, actually.

Phoenix is a really great destinateion for us. We have done a lot of RAWs and a lot of SmackDowns there over the years, as well as a few pay-per-views. If you feed me some stuff, I can remember more. But those are the two I remember most.

McPEEK: There was SummerSlam (2003) vs. Rob Van Dam. You defended the tag titles with Daniel Bryan at the Royal Rumble in 2013, and you were in the Money-in-the-Bank match at WrestleMania 26 out in Glendale.

KANE: Oh yeah, yeah. I wasn’t even thinking about that, because that was out at the Cardinals stadium. Which, by the way, I grew up in St. Louis and I was a football Cardinals fan, so when they moved to Arizona, we never really got over that in St. Louis. So that (Mania) was bitter sweet (laughs).

McPEEK: The Gorilla is actually a personal friend of mine, so I was actually going to ask if you regret giving him the tombstone at that RAW.

KANE: Nah, because it was pretty entertaining, and everybody liked it. It was also on SportsCenter, so anytime you can make SportsCenter, it’s okay.

McPEEK: Was that some sort of revenge for your own basketball career not taking off? You played hoops at Northeast Missouri State, right?

KANE: Yeah,  yeah. Well, the reason my basketball career didn’t take off was because when I got to college, I started lifting weights and I couldn’t take off anymore because I weighed like 290. So that was the end of my basketball career.

McPEEK: You’ve been wrestling since 1992. How much longer do you plan to wrestle, or have you even started to think about retirement yet?

KANE: Not really. It’s still fun. I have a lot of fun now with the younger guys and just being in the position that I’m in, as more of a mentor at times. I’ve also been very fortunate that I haven’t had many injuries. So my body still feels good. I can’t say it feels as it did when I was 25, but it still feels good and I can still do most of the things that I used to be able to do, and I still think that I perform at a high level, even when I’m in there literally against guys that are half my age sometimes. I think they still have to keep up with me.

There are some, guys like Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, they challenge me seriously, because they are great performers, but I think I can still keep up with them. As long as I can do that, I’m going to continue doing what I do. As I’ve found over the last several years, the real reward of being a WWE Superstar is the people that we touch. And all the time, people come up to me and tell me how they watched me, and their kids watch me now, and thank me for doing what I do. And I always thank them for watching and allowing me to do what I do. So that’s a feeling that is hard to describe and not a lot of people get to do that, so that’s something that I really relish. So I’ll probably keep on doing it until I feel that the time is right and whatever factors stop me, or I just don’t feel that I can perform up to my standards any more.

McPEEK: Before I let you go, I want to get your quick thoughts on a few current events. First of all, one of your former rivals, Shane McMahon, and his return to WWE?

KANE: Ha! I think it’s great. Shane O-Mac has a passion about our business that is pretty rare, and just the reaction that he got on his first night back, I think the WWE Universe missed him and it’s good to have him back.

McPEEK: Former Suns center Shaquille O’Neal was in the WrestleMania battle royal with you. What do you think of the Big Cactus’ potential as a future WWE Superstar?

KANE: He ain’t gonna have a future if I get my hands on him, because what happened to me was absolutely wrong. He came out unannounced. No one had any idea that he was going to be in the match and there he was all of a sudden. Then him and Big Show team up and double choke slam me. So I’m glad that we got rid of him and I don’t want to see him back.

McPEEK: Brock Lesnar returning to UFC for a one-off match.

KANE: Well, I think that’s good for both brands, frankly. Brock Lesnar is one of those guys, like the Rock has done in movies, Brock has done the same thing in UFC and MMA. He has transcended WWE and that sport, and I think he helps bring UFC and MMA fans into WWE, and vice versa. So anytime someone has crossover appeal like that, I think it’s good for everybody.

McPEEK: Last one and I’ll let you go, what are your thoughts on the upcoming brand extension? The first time WWE split the superstars into two unique rosters, you were drafted to the RAW brand.

KANE: Right. I’m very excited about it. I think it’s going to give guys a lot of opportunity. I think it’s going to give us flexibility and variety in the shows that we don’t have right now, which is going to be good for everybody. And creatively, hopefully what we’ll be able to do is create products that stand alone, and in many ways, have audiences that are fans of both but for different reasons. If we’re able to achieve that, and be able to compete against ourselves in that way, I think it’s going to be a winner for everybody.