Charting the Evolution of Kane's Gimmick During WWE Career
Each time that Kane has stepped out of the chrysalis throughout his WWE career, he has emerged as a new, unsettling creature.
While his Isaac Yankem D.D.S. character had little staying power, Kane has been a prominent part of the company for over 15 years. A part of that can be attributed to Kane's physical gifts, but it's also a result of his ability to adapt again and again.
WWE has asked him to be a stalker, a sadist and a jokester. He's excelled at every turn.
The following is a look at how Kane's character has evolved over the years, transforming from one fearsome persona to another.
The Kane that debuted at Badd Blood 1997 wasn't far off from the Michael Myers character of the Halloween movie series.
He was a towering, imposing figure who said nothing and refused to stay down regardless of the blows his foes landed. He was billed as Undertaker's vengeful brother which, thanks to their similar sizes and surprising agility, was highly believable.
In true monster heel tradition, he tore through lesser foes, looking indestructible along the way.
Scarred by fire, he hid his face in a mask. Fire was a central theme of his character, both as a weapon he inflicted on others and as a means to see him show pain. He set Undertaker on fire inside a casket and later watched his arm be chewed by flames in an Inferno match against his brother.
There have been few wrestling characters as unsettling as Kane. WWE did well to make the most of the monster's initial impact.
This couldn't last, though. In order for Kane to sustain interest, he needed to adapt.
Like Frankenstein's monster discovering his humanity, Kane evolved into a monster with increasingly complicated motivations.
Early on, he seemed to only feel rage and only sought destruction. In 1999 and the early '00s, though, he began to form relationships, alliances with several tag team partners and even a girlfriend, Tori.
Unlikely as it would have seemed when he first stomped onto the scene, Kane tagged with Hurricane Helm, X-Pac and Rob Van Dam. With the help of an electrolarynx, he spoke his first words.
Later, he showed a human side of him in backstage segments. It was a dark, unnerving human side, but human nonetheless.
When he and Hurricane won the tag titles, Kane spoke of being a freak and called his fans, Kaneinites. He chummed it up with Van Dam backstage. Even as goofy and friendly as he got during this time, him snapping was always a possibility.
Anyone who would hit their girlfriend with a Tombstone piledriver is someone to stay wary of, and Kane's friends during this time seemed to approach things this way.
Kane unmasked in 2003 and having to show his face brought out a new darkness in him.
He became rabid, sadistic and unpredictable. To balance out the fear factor lost from removing the mask, WWE widened his psychological cracks.
In a way, he was morphing into a more realistic monster. He began as the kind of monster fit for movies and emerged from his mask as a man that belonged in a psycho ward, chained and sedated.
Even as evil as he was, his backstory and his clear emotional issues made him somewhat sympathetic. Hearing voices in his head, Kane attacked anyone who reminded him of May 19, the date that his adopted parent died in a fire.
This insanity stretched on for years, with Kane attacking both Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole in 2008 and looking like a snarling dog as he interrogated Jack Swagger in 2010. His anger and aggression softened over time, though.
He sought a number of titles including the World Heavyweight Championship as an increasingly normal competitor. Kane was intimidating and destructive, but not anything like he was before.
An injury in 2011 gave WWE the opportunity to refill Kane's stocks of wickedness.
WWE began to air vignettes of Kane in a warehouse or basement featuring broken glass and fire.
The clips promised a return to Kane's previous instability and of him being "resurrected." When he came back to TV, he wore a new, disturbing mask. Kane targeted John Cena, telling him to embrace hate.
This was a highly introspective version of Kane, self-diagnosing his mental issues in front of a live audience. He used high vocabulary as he talked of what fueled human impulse, far removed from his origins as a wordless seeker of destruction.
It was a subdued version of Kane's previous personas and another example of WWE attempting to keep his gimmick fresh.
Team Hell No
During his anger management sessions with Daniel Bryan, Kane reluctantly let some of his darkness be replaced with normalcy.
This Kane heavily mirrored the one we saw pal around with Rob Van Dam and gleefully celebrate his title win with Hurricane Helms. He was still angry and dangerous, but the original Kane nor the unmasked sadist of 2003 would never "hug it out" or engage in trust exercises.
The audience watched a monster be cured in a sense.
However, it may have disappointed some fans to see Kane morph into a comedy character, the juxtaposition of his dark character with the banal nature of the psychological exercises resulted in some of the funniest moments in WWE history.
Kane showed great range, as he has throughout his career. The dissolution of Team Hell No forced him to make another change.
Rather than rehash some previous version of his gimmick, WWE went in an unexpected direction.
Director of Operations
Kane ditched his mask once again and traded it in for a suit and tie.
He is now Triple H's official Director of Operations. What that role entails will unfold in the coming weeks.
Kane will certainly be a henchman of some sort, but if his past is proof of anything, he is one that can't be tamed. Expect a more subtle monster on your screen until he turns on his string pullers as many expect.
There is no doubt that Kane will nail this role.
He's been excellent in each incarnation of his character, be it mute destroyer or cackling kidnapper. WWE continues to slide him into a new set of skin and each one has fit him exceptionally well.
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