Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Mercy Side: I'm Going to Disneyland!

Here's my first wrestling article in nearly two months. Enjoy.

I may not be writing as often as I used to anymore but that’s because of time, not because of my lack of interest in doing it. I still play video games, listen to music, watch football games and watch wrestling. I just don’t often get the chance to jot my thoughts down on anything anymore, which is a shame. But in the wrestling world, one of the most intriguing, most entertaining, and most unpredictable storylines in recent memory is the program that’s occurring between Kane and Daniel Bryan.

I’m a huge Kane fan. I have been for a long time. And while Daniel Bryan individually is by far my favourite wrestler at the moment, and has been for about half a year now, this article is actually in homage to Kane. You see, Kane is a character and wrestler who is always overlooked by both his peers and the younger talent. Back in the late nineties, there were far more popular wrestlers than Kane. He was a medium fish in a huge tank in those days, in comparison arguably larger fish in The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Mankind and The Undertaker. Then when that tank got smaller, new talent were still considered bigger fish; Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit. Then the new breed came in when the fish tank was getting smaller still; John Cena, Randy Orton, Edge, Jeff Hardy, Brock Lesnar and now CM Punk. At this time Kane’s medium sized fish was shrinking. He was getting older, slower, less interesting.

One thing they tried to keep Kane’s character fresh was take Kane’s mask off. This was a huge angle. I never thought they’d get Kane to take his mask off; it was key to his character and a fundamental part of his look. Kane was supposedly burnt in a fire as a kid so the idea behind the mask was to cover up his scarred face. And while Glen Jacobs, the man who portrays Kane, has a menacing look on him, it took away a huge part of Kane that made him so scary in the first place. The only reason why I’d have been happy for Kane to lose his mask was if the WWE were to actually give him the push to the top he deserved for such a long time. They never really did.

Something that always used to annoy me about the WWE was that they burderned Kane with a one day title reign for so long. I never thought he deserved to lose the title in one day, after finally getting to the top and get a win over Stone Cold Steve Austin in the process. I thought that was terrible; at the time Kane was still one of the most interesting characters on TV, even in the fruitful attitude era. He didn’t deserve that. No one does really. It’s one of the reasons why I feel sorry for Dolph Ziggler and Rey Mysterio and their terrible title reigns. What’s a bigger crime though is that it took over 12 years for him to not only get another World Heavyweight Title reign, but for him to have a good crack at the top. Kane had a decent run as champion a couple of years ago, and his program while wasn’t great, his character was pretty damn entertaining.

It's hard to remember this ever happening.
Who was he in a program with as World Heavyweight Champion? Oh yeah, some guy called The Undertaker. Kane has the unfortunate title as being an Undertaker-lite. In nearly every way possible, Kane is inferior to The Undertaker. He’s a big guy like The Undertaker, but in the ring he can’t compare to Big Evil. The Undertaker is unparalleled when it comes to big guys and their ability in the ring. He’s untouchable. Kane however, is a damn good wrestler, for a man of 7 feet and 320 pounds; he can fly across that ring and put on a very good show. His moveset is distinctive despite him sharing his finishers with The Undertaker. On the microphone, The Undertaker, when on form, floors Kane in this respect too. Kane isn’t often given much time on the microphone, not because it’s a weakness, but because it’s against his character to talk too much. But he’s still very good; one of the highlights of the disappointing program between Kane and The Undertaker for the World title two years ago was Kane’s “reveal all” promo where he explained his plot for the title all along and how The Undertaker fell for it. That promo was gold, and he was on the microphone for a good 10 minutes then, a rarity for Kane. His character is inferior to The Undertaker’s as well; in the respect that The Undertaker’s Deadman gimmick has lasted an incredible 22 years, bar the few years as The American Bad Ass, with few tweaks here and there. Kane has had to change his character over and over again, to avoid being too similar to The Undertaker, and yet maintain the entertainment value. Kane is less popular than The Undertaker in every other way possible too; fan opinion, backstage respect and reputation, merchandise, everything. Kane is exactly that, The Undertaker-lite.

But there is one thing that Kane can revert to that The Undertaker can’t. There’s one thing that Kane has the ability to do that The Undertaker can’t even begin to compare with, and that’s the ability to be funny. You can call it an underrated trait in a wrestler, but the ability to make an audience laugh is important. It’s entertaining; it’s an often overlooked quality in a wrestler. I can give you two very easy examples to back myself up on this. The first, Santino. Santino will never be a World Heavyweight Champion. He’s not good enough in the ring, not popular enough overall with any age demographic, not even kids. But if you remember The Elimination Chamber earlier this year, Santino was amazing. He was put into the match due to a concussion to Randy Orton, he was a surprise entrance really, and no one expected him to be given the spot in the match. But how the fans reacted. They knew he had no chance of winning the Elimination Chamber. They knew he was a huge underdog. And they supported him in his underdog role. Why? Because they knew his value as a comedy wrestler. And you know what? Santino delivered big time in the Elimination Chamber. He got by far the biggest pops in that match when he dug in deep and survived to the final two in the chamber, with Daniel Bryan. It was a simple story, but if it wasn’t for Santino playing the funny guy so well now for a number of years, we wouldn’t have got that great performance from Santino.

Secondly is Daniel Bryan himself. Daniel Bryan is a great story in today’s WWE. A little indie guy who happens to be the best technical wrestler since Chris Benoit, gets his chance at glory by winning Money in the Bank, and cashes in. But he’s still one of the most entertaining wrestlers in the roster, in my opinion; he’s been the most entertaining wrestler for a good half year now. And why? Because he’s just so funny. He knows how to garner a reaction. And his in ring ability is unquestionable; it’s always been the ability to play a character that people questioned. And how he’s backed that ability up. He gets probably more time on TV than any other wrestler nowadays. It speaks volumes, it really does. And it’s the comedy element to his character that makes him stand out, even when he’s not heading into a World Title at the moment. Because he’s such a good wrestler, the true best in the world I’d say at this time, and because he’s so entertaining and funny, it’s inevitable he’ll be given that reward at the top again very soon.

I admit it, I'm a huge Brothers of Destruction mark. I have no shame.

Because Kane is immediately compared in every way to The Undertaker in everything he does, not only because he’s the storyline brother of The Undertaker, but also because he too has an evil streak, is a big guy that has a similar move set, Kane has to adjust himself in a way that’s different to The Undertaker. I think deep down Glen Jacobs knows that he’s just not as good in most ways to The Undertaker. Sometimes it’s good to accept that you’re not #1 and just be the best you can, and be better in ways others can’t. And Kane does that by being funny, in usually inappropriate or unexpected ways.

Kane has a great career in comedy segments. Because it’s not every week, every time we see him and a little unexpected when it does happen, it’s often absolutely hilarious. Kane does evil and sinister segments, he does horror slapstick segments (usually badly, take the Paul Bearer freezer storyline as an example), and he also does comedy. One of my all time favourite funny moments from Kane is when he’s preparing a six-man tag team match with The Rock and Hulk Hogan, and his partners are discussing how they’re not too sure how to deal with The Big Red Machine. Kane walks in and just tears the roof off with his amazing impressions of The Rock and Hulk Hogan, hulking up, posing, everything. It’s just brilliant. It came out of nowhere and was just one of my favourite segments ever. What about the celebratory Santino trumpet segment from last year? Kane was just turning into a good guy but wasn’t quite there yet at the time, and was in an eight-man tag team match with Santino, Big Show and Vladmir Kozlov; his three partners start doing the trumpet celebration and Kane just stands there in disgust. Then all of a sudden he just starts joining in. It’s just moments like that that Kane can get away with, in a way that The Undertaker can’t, and he’s just so good at it.

Which brings me to his current program with Daniel Bryan. I truly believe that the paring of these two unexpectedly funny guys wasn’t planned long term. I believe everyone thought they’d have a program that ended with Daniel Bryan being put over by Kane to the top again, because Kane has spent long periods of his career putting smaller wrestlers over, which is another trait he’s better than The Undertaker at. But the segments have been just so funny consistently over the last couple of months that they’ve started to pair them and even gave them the Tag Team Titles. The Tag Team Titles were almost inevitably being readied for Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara to the point that the writing was pretty much engrained on the belt, but with Kane and Daniel Bryan working so well together with their fantastic chemistry, plans have changed. And while Daniel Bryan is a really big part of why this team is so successful on TV, Kane needs more credit in his role.

The "hug it out" segment was comedy gold.
That’s the purpose of this article. To pay homage to Kane, something that isn’t done enough. Sure, there have been better wrestlers than Kane, in many different ways; in ring ability, on the microphone, everything. I’m not taking anything away from these wrestlers. I’m not taking anything away from The Undertaker, who in most ways is better than Kane. I prefer The Undertaker to Kane myself. But Kane is just not praised enough for the role he’s done consistently since 1995. That’s fifteen years service. He’s a scary monster, he’s a big wrestler but can wrestle really well, he’s decent on the microphone, he’s put more smaller wrestlers over in that time than most other wrestlers (Chris Jericho may trump, but I doubt many others do in the past 15 years). But he’s also a very, VERY funny guy. I don’t know if it’s Glen Jacobs the man who has decided that comedy segments are good for his character, or if it’s Vince McMahon, or multiple other people over the years that have created storylines for him, but it works. It’s always worked. And Kane, I thank you for your fantastic work throughout your career. You’ll always be one of my favourite wrestlers. And one more thing Kane, I really, truly, deeply hope you enjoyed Disneyland. Thanks for reading.

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