Red and Black Week continues! Thanks again to Ms. Kitty for coming up with and continuing to host this. It’s my first time participating (if you couldn’t tell) and I’m really excited about it!
This post is a little different (probably from every other post ever featured!). I guess you could say it’s confession time (for those who didn’t know): I’m a pro-wrestling fan, and have been since I was a little girl. Yes, I know – even people who think they know me very well are surprised when they find out. Part of it is because I’m generally rather reserved and dignified. And let’s face it – there are a lot of people who just can’t wrap their minds around a woman watching and enjoying wrestling. At one of the “dark” (not televised) house shows we attended here in DC, two guys seated near us actually asked my husband what he had to bribe me with to get me to come to the show! They were floored when he replied “Um…nothing. She’s actually a bigger fan than I am.”
At it’s core, professional wrestling is about telling a good story. In the past (even as recently as when I was little), it was good guy (“babyface” or “face”) versus bad guy (“heel”). Modern wrestling has explored some rather grey areas as it’s grown with it’s audience but the basic formula is still there. The athleticism plays a huge role in the show, but it’s the “gimmicks,” personas, “angles,” and storylines that make it as fun as it is.
Personally I’m not interested unless you have a good character and good ring skills. I can’t get behind a sloppy wrestler – that’s how people get hurt. But even if you’re the best in-ring guy the fed has, I’m not going to care about you if your persona is boring. I don’t always go for the face, I don’t always go for the heel, but I can appreciate both. A really good performer can do both well. Sometimes the heels are the more interesting characters, and there have been several who I “loved to hate.”
I started out as a little girl loving Andre the Giant and Rowdy Roddy Piper. The Undertaker came on the scene when I was about twelve years old – you can imagine how awesome that was for a little goth-in-training!
But my favorite character, from the moment I first saw him, has been The Big Red Machine – Kane.
When Kane first debuted in the 1990s, he didn’t speak a word. He didn’t need to. At almost seven feet tall, dressed in red and black and with a mask covering his face, he was quite intimidating!
Kane’s story is that he’s The Undertaker’s younger brother. Injured and left for dead as a child in a fire that Taker supposedly set, Kane grew into a twisted, tortured pyromaniac…who loves to throw fireballs. I first saw him against Taker in an “Inferno match” where the ring was burning. I’m a terrible pyrophobe, honestly – fire is my number one biggest fear. I think part of the reason I was drawn to Kane (besides the look of the character) was that he “controlled” the thing that I’m afraid of.
Kane’s played the part of the face and the heel, alternately teaming up with and fighting against his brother. He’s held most of the championship titles at one time or another, been involved in some great tag teams, and has had some memorable feuds. In the ring he’s surprisingly agile for a big guy – he can “fly” off the turnbuckle just as high and just as well as some of the smaller performers!
His signature move is always the chokeslam. The power involved in that move (even allowing for the fact that his “opponent” has to cooperate to an extent to make it happen) is just amazing to me.
I got to see Kane live for the first time at a dark house show a couple of years ago. My husband got us seats in the third row from the ring. Because it was a dark show, there were no pyros and no TitanTron. But when Kane’s music hit, I was out of my seat and squeeing my head off. If you’ve ever seen footage of teen girls in the sixties getting excited over the Beatles…yeah, it was kind of like that. The best part was that I got to see him chokeslam a boring, played out, mediocre wrestler whom I cannot stand!
I’ve seen him twice since then, both times at televised events where the cameras were rolling – I managed to keep my cool a little better!
Of course, the Kane character has grown and evolved over the years. He’s been the Big Red Machine, the Big Red Monster, The Devil’s Favorite Demon, and even Corporate Kane (depending on which side of the fence he was on and/or who he was working with at the time). He’s worn several different masks, and has even been unmasked a time or two. Glenn Jacobs, the man behind the mask, is a fantastic performer. It’s actually a shame that Kane didn’t speak for several years (and even when he did, it was through a voicebox at first) because he is very eloquent and has a magnificent speaking voice. He inducted his manager Paul Bearer into the Hall of Fame this past year (after the death of William Moody, who gave life to the character) and it was a very moving thing to watch.
Some things haven’t changed though – Kane’s costume and mask are always Red and Black…even when it is a suit!
It’s never mattered, though, whether Kane was face or heel, or who he was feuding with, Corporate Kane or Big Red Machine or Brother of Destruction, or even whether he was wearing the mask or not. He will probably always be my favorite.