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Back in junior high, I was all about professional wrestling. While I certainly loved the insanely popular "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and The Rock, my all-time favorite was Kane. Introduced as the half-brother of The Undertaker, Kane was a sheer force. He was billed at seven foot tall, and the storyline went that as a child, Taker started a fire which maimed the man, leaving him a horribly disfigured mute, forced to live behind a mask. Huge, silent and destructive, he took a lot of influence from such horrors as Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers, which is probably why I was so drawn by the character.
Review by Crispy
Added: October 10, 2012
Now, having seen the WWE's documentaries on The Ultimate Warrior and Jake "The Snake" Roberts, I went in expecting a biography on the man behind the mask, Glenn Jacobs. After all, he had quite a few failed attempts to break into the wrestling world; he's been handed some of the worst gimmicks in the business, including a Christmas based masked man, a demented dentist, and the wildly unpopular attempt at replacing Diesel after Kevin Nash left for WCW. These usually make for some interesting stories. However, that just wasn't the case here. Instead, this is a three disc "Greatest Matches" compilation, with The Big Red Machine himself, in character as a heel, narrating between matches. The twenty-five matches that make up the meat of this release are:
- WWF Debut vs. Mankind (Survivor Series 1997)
- First match vs. Undertaker (WrestleMania XIV)
- Inferno Match vs. Undertaker (Unforgiven 1998)
- First Blood Match for the WWE Championship vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (King of the Ring 1998)
- WWF Tag Team Championship Match with X-Pac vs. Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart (RAW 04/05/1999)
- Steel Cage Match vs. X-Pac (Armageddon 1999)
- Last Man Standing Match vs. Chris Jericho (Armageddon 2000)
- Triple Threat Tag Team Championship Table Match with Undertaker vs. Edge and Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz (No Way Out 2001)
- WWE Intercontinental Championship Chain Match vs. Triple H (Judgement Day 2001)
- vs. Kurt Angle (Wrestlemania X8)
- World Heavyweight Championship vs. Intercontinental Championship Match vs. Triple H (No Mercy 2002)
- with Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Jericho and Christian (RAW 01/06/2003)
- Steel Cage Match vs. Rob Van Dam (RAW 09/08/2003)
- Last Man Standing Match vs. Shane McMahon (Unforgiven 2003)
- Ambulance Match vs. Shane McMahon (Survivor Series 2003)
- Til Death Do Us Part Match vs. Matt Hardy (SummerSlam 2004)
- No Disqualification Match vs. Shawn Michaels (Unforgiven 2004)
- No Holds Barred Match vs. Gene Snitsky (RAW 01/17/2005)
- Steel Cage Match vs. Edge (RAW 07/18/2005)
- Stretcher Match vs. Edge (RAW 07/25/2005)
- vs. Umaga (RAW 09/18/2006)
- with Undertaker vs. King Booker and Finlay (SmackDown! 12/22/2006)
- vs. King Booker (No Way Out 2007)
- Belfast Brawl vs. Finlay (SmackDown! 09/14/2007)
- vs. Undertaker (SmackDown! 04/04/2008)
- *DVD Extra* 24-Man Battle Royal for ECW Championship Title Shot (WrestleMania XXIV)
- *DVD Extra* ECW Championship Match vs. Chavo Guerrero (WrestleMania XXIV)
For the most part, this is a damned fine collection of matches here. When I was watching back in '98, the hatred between him and Taker was his most defining characteristic, and it was great reliving some of their matches. At the same time, WWE didn't let themselves get pigeonholed into that feud, and we get to enjoy his smaller feuds as well. All three of the cage matches were excellent, and I had forgotten how great that chain match with Triple H was. The biggest surprise was the two matches against Shane McMahon. I didn't remember the feud from the past, and to be honest I didn't have a whole lot of hope for them. Well they ended up being two of my favorites matches, and Shane O'Mac's willingness to put his body on the line and plunge off a thirty-foot scaffolding was a nice foil for Kane's brutality. Plus, it really puts into perspective just how underrated Glenn Jacobs' acting skills are. I'm not saying he's Michael Caine or anything, but he has some talent. He originally wanted to take the mask off because he felt it was limiting his ability to express emotion. It wasn't a bad idea, as his unmasked era is all but defined by either his mask of rage or that evil, gleeful grin when he's cracking someone's skull open. As great as these facial expressions are though, the man was just as good at conveying with body language; his silent killer approach was my personal favorite, and brings to mind one Kane Hodder.
Still, I have to wonder how some of these matches made it to the compilation. The Jericho match, the Angle match, and the stretcher match with Edge all should definitely have been axed. Plus, while the two Brother of Destruction and the tag match with RVD were necessary to include, I feel like there'd be better options. Perhaps when the siblings took on Haku and Rikishi in a first blood match, or the tag team title defense in a surprise match against the legendary Road Warriors. Also, while I'm sure it's more a matter of my personal nostalgia and the PG path the company took, the compilation ends on something of a flat note as the last few matches were pretty lackluster. The fact that they were from Smackdown! episodes and had chunks in the middle cut out for commercials didn't help their cause any either. On top of all that, Kane went 12-11-2 through this collection. Yeah, I understand that just because he lost doesn't mean it isn't a great match; I mean, his first bout with Undertaker at WrestleMania XIV deserves to be here for its historical significance alone, even though it definitely earned its stripes on its own merits. Still, for a collection dedicated to a specific wrestler, you'd think the record would be a little more in his favor.
Naturally, every fan will have their favorite matches, and while they obviously can't use them all, there's a handful whose glaring omissions are a huge disservice to Kane and fans alike. For starters, not only did he set a new record in 2001's Royal Rumble match of eleven eliminations that still stands as of this writing, but he was the sixth entrant, fighting for close to an hour before coming in second. Of course, it'd be a bit much to include the whole Rumble, but it certainly deserves a highlight reel in the extras. Also, at that year's WrestleMania X-Seventeen, Kane won a triple threat hardcore match against Big Show and Raven. While I'll admit the match itself is kind of mediocre, the Big Red Machine wrapping a hose around Raven's throat and throwing him through an office window is one of the most memorable moments in his career. Plus, he walked away with the Hardcore Championship. Later that year, Kane would hold one half of the tag team championship alongside Hurricane; a championship that on the October 7th episode of RAW would be defended in a four-way TLC tag match against some masters of the match. After he was jumped earlier in the show, Hurricane was unable to compete. No matter, Kane went out there by his damn self and did work. I think this actually won the Match of the Year award, which really makes you wonder why they didn't include it. Finally, the inferno match is absolutely synonymous with Kane; there's only been four of them in the company's history, and he's been in every single one of them. Granted, he also lost the first three, but whatever. That fourth one, against MVP, should be on here. Not only is it his sole victory in his match, but it was definitely better than the Booker T or the Finlay bouts.
The production behind The Twisted, Disturbed Life of Kane is something of a mixed bag. For one thing, I wasn't overly crazy about the decision to keep the man in character. Not only is it kind of disjointed when he's talking about some of his face endeavors from a heel point-of-view, but I'd much rather hear what Jacobs himself actually thought about the matters at hand. The stories behind the stories are always more interesting, and hearing his opinions on unmasking or the infamous Katie Vick angle would have been leagues better than the uber-cheesy nonsense he was spouting. Also, they had a few vignettes between some of the matches, summing up what had transpired to make this match so personal. It worked wonders; reminding us that his debut match was a result of his vicious assault on Dude Love causing Foley to revert to his deranged alter-ego Mankind added a metric ton of weight to the match, and following the vignettes through the Lita angle gave the five respective matches in the story a flow that keeps us engaged. I mean, that Snitsky match wasn't that great, but now it has its place in the tale. Otherwise, I would definitely have included it in the list of matches that should have been dropped. Unfortunately, there were a few times where these vignettes were sorely needed, and just weren't there. They would have been great between the two X-Pac matches (he was a partner in one match and a bitter enemy in the next), but the most notable absence was preceding the No Mercy 2002 match against Triple H. This was the match where Triple H had accused him of killing and corpse-raping his ex-girlfriend Katie Vick. Obviously, the WWE's new lighter direction wasn't too keen on dredging that can of worms back up, but then they shouldn't have brought it up at all. They treated the entire unmasking match has a vignette, and if anything, this should definitely have been included in the set. And let's be honest, the two matches are almost identical: Kane dominates Triple H until his stable mates intervene and cost Kane the match.
Even as the huge fan of Kane that I was, I just didn't love this collection like I expected to. The questionable match selection and kayfabe narration brought things down quite a bit, and the lackluster extras didn't help (they include a run through of the circumstances behind Kane's arrival in the WWF, his early WrestleMania rivalry with MLB legend Pete Rose, a collection of his more humorous interviews, and his RAW wedding to Lita). Don't get me wrong though, I did enjoy it; the nine-hour run time breezed by and it reminded me just how much I love his original red and black mask. I just think that WWE could have put just a little bit more effort into it to make it extraordinary. 6.5/10.