In 1990, the WWE changed forever.
A man named Mark Calaway made his debut in the company as “Kane the Undertaker,” quickly dropped that Kane part and started his path toward becoming one of the biggest superstars in wrestling history.
Seven years later, “Kane” returned. Only, this wasn’t “Kane the Undertaker.”
It was The Big Red Monster, Kane (real name: Glen Jacobs), who made his WWE debut as The Undertaker’s half-brother at Badd Blood: In Your House on Oct. 5, 1997.
Ever since that moment, both The Undertaker and Kane have been as big a part of the WWE as anyone during that span.
Being that they’re storyline brothers, similar in size and gimmick, too, they will always be compared side by side.
That’s not going to change anytime soon, either.
Let’s compare the careers of two of the most important figures in the history of WWE.
- 9-time World Tag Team Champion
- 2-time Intercontinental Champion
- 1-time WWF Champion
- 1-time World Heavyweight Champion
- 1-time ECW Champion
- 1-time Money in the Bank winner (2010)
- 1-time WWE Tag Team Champion
- 1-time Hardcore Champion
- 1-time WCW Tag Team Champion
- Triple Crown and Grand Slam Champion
- 6-time WWE Tag Team Champion
- 4-time WWE Champion
- 3-time World Heavyweight Champion
- 1-time Royal Rumble winner (2007)
- 1-time WCW Tag Team Champion
- 1-time Hardcore Champion
What’s perhaps most surprising here is that Kane has actually won more titles in the WWE than The Undertaker has (17 to 15).
But it’s important to note that Undertaker has won seven world titles while Kane has only won two. In fact, the gap between Kane’s two world title runs was huge, with the Big Red Monster waiting roughly 12 years to win his second world title and first-ever World Heavyweight Championship.
The Undertaker, however, hasn’t really had a career that’s been defined by world titles, either.
Whereas guy like Triple H, Ric Flair and even John Cena are well into the double digits, the Phenom has had “just” seven runs with the WWE or World Heavyweight Championships.
Of course, seven world title reigns is impressive for anyone. But it’s surprising to think that in 22 years in the WWE, The Undertaker didn’t at least win double digits.
Regardless, Taker stills sticks out above Kane when it comes to their respective career resumes, thanks to the vast difference in the number of world title runs that the two had and the fact that he did what Kane has never managed to do: win a Royal Rumble.
What They’ll Be Known For
Both Kane and The Undertaker are largely known because of their amazing longevity in the WWE, but obviously, there’s more to it than that.
Here are three things that I believe define the careers of both men.
3. The Mask
I’m not sure there’s ever been a wrestler whose mask has been as controversial of a topic as Kane’s has.
Kane debuted in the WWE 15 years ago, and when he did, that mask added an incredible aura to his character, especially the way it played into all of his storylines.
But on June 23, 2003, Kane removed his mask, and many wrestling fans have said that his career was never the same after that mask removal.
Although Kane put the mask back on in December 2011, one could argue that it’s lost most of its intrigue because the appeal of the mask (the fact that very few people knew what he looked like) was already gone.
Whether you like Kane more with the mask or more without it, it’s hard to deny that that mask hasn’t played a huge role in his career.
2. Dominating the Royal Rumble
Kane may have never actually won a Royal Rumble, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t make his mark on one of the WWE’s most popular matches.
In fact, you might very well say that Kane has been the most dominant superstar in Royal Rumble history.
Kane is second in the match’s history with 36 eliminations over the course of his career, he holds the record for the most eliminations in a single Rumble (11) and he has been in the “Final Five” more times than any other wrestler.
While you might compare that accomplishment to the early 1990s Buffalo Bills (who lost four Super Bowls), I take the optimistic side instead and realize how impressive it was for Kane to make such an impact in just about every Rumble he’s ever participated in.
1. Bad Storylines/Feuds
I’m not trying to hate on Kane, but what I’ll remember most about him is the ridiculous amount of bad storylines and feuds he’s been involved in.
And trust me—I’m not the only one who thinks so.
According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Kane has been involved in a whopping six “Worst Feuds of the Year.” Those came in 2002 (Triple H), 2003 (Shawn Michaels), 2004 (Matt Hardy and Lita), 2007 (Big Daddy V), Rey Mysterio (2008) and Edge (2010).
Plus, I’m not so sure that the 2012 “Worst Feud of the Year” award won’t go to him as well for his awful feud with John Cena.
Of course, you can’t really blame Kane for this. He’s not the one writing the storylines, after all.
But whether he’s responsible for them or not, Kane will likely end up having more terrible feuds than any major star in WWE history.
Don’t believe me?
Two words: Katie Vick.
3. His Ability in the Ring
Undertaker is a rare specimen, one who’s gotten better with age.
He was always great in the ring, but he really turned it on toward the end of his career, especially at the past four WrestleManias when he’s absolutely torn the house down.
In fact, The Undertaker is a three-time PWI “Match of the Year” award winner, and according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, he also wrestled a five-star match against Shawn Michaels inside Hell in a Cell at Badd Blood in 1997.
I wouldn’t be shocked at all if his Hell in a Cell match with Triple H at WrestleMania XXVIII was the 2012 “Match of the Year,” either.
For such a big guy, Taker has established himself as one of the very best wrestlers in the history of the business,
He’s not only the best big man ever. You could make a case that, regardless of height, he’s the best wrestler ever. Period.
2. His Gimmick
Gimmicks are a lost art in professional wrestling today.
But The Undertaker debuted at a time when almost every wrestler had a very distinguishable gimmick, and that was huge for his career.
I—and thousands, or perhaps even millions, of other wrestling fans—will always stand by this statement: The Undertaker has the greatest gimmick in wrestling history.
Some may find it too unbelievable, but for 22 years now, he’s managed to stay ridiculously over, largely because of that gimmick.
The mysteriousness, the aura, the eyes, the entrance that still sends chills up my spine even to this day.
There have been, and still are, great gimmicks that will be remembered for years to come, but no one will ever forget The Undertaker.
1. “The Streak”
By accidental design, the WWE gave The Undertaker that ever-so-famous WrestleMania undefeated streak years ago.
Now, it’s what’s defined his career.
When you hear the word “streak,” you don’t think about the San Antonio Spurs winning 20 straight games. You think about The Undertaker.
At WrestleMania, he is 20-0, unbeaten and perfect.
No one else can say that—not Cena, not Hogan, not HBK, not Triple H, not Bret Hart. No one.
The matches may be fixed, but that doesn’t matter much to me.
For anyone to have such longevity and be able to compete at the highest possible level for nearly a quarter of a century, that’s got to be the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen in pro wrestling.
Both The Undertaker and Kane will go down as two of the biggest stars the WWE has ever seen.
But I think most fans will agree when I say that Undertaker has had the better career.
Although Kane is far from a slouch, Taker has had a career that’s been defined by memorable moments and thus, has established him as an absolutely unforgettable superstar.
He’s had more great matches than Kane and a better gimmick, too, and those are two things that have made him stick out above and beyond any star who’s ever stepped in the ring.