Home > Uncategorized > Raising Kane: The long, strange trip of Glenn Jacobs, from the Christmas Creature to WWE World champion

Raising Kane: The long, strange trip of Glenn Jacobs, from the Christmas Creature to WWE World champion

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Season's beatings: I heard him exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight, "Miserable Christmas to all and to all a good fright."

Soon after I put on my referee gear–starched Polo buttondown, black Dickies pants and Doc Marten lowcuts–in the dressing room (i.e., a high-school basketball team’s locker room) in Osceloa, Arkansas, in December 1993, I walk over to the heel side to go over the finishes for that night’s card. Since the home team’s and visitor’s locker rooms aren’t connected, I’ll have to relay the finishes between the boys.

On the heel side, I notice Glenn Jacobs, a huge, muscular guy with with bushy, curly hair sitting anxiously near manager Bert Prentice. Kevin Lawler, Jerry’s son, approaches Jacobs, a relatively unknown addition to the USWA roster, who had worked the territory a few months earlier as part of a tag team with a Russian gimmick. The young Lawler hands a brown-paper grocery bag to the rookie, who appears to be in his mid-’20s, saying, “Here it is–go ahead and put it on.”

Jacobs reaches into the bag and pulls out what appears to be an oversized green outfit belonging to Santa’s hugest helper. The fresh-faced behemoth smiles as he studies the costume, with its subtle, new additions. Glenn’s mother, a proficient seamstress, had measured her son and sewn the outfit a week or so earlier, based on a design conceived by Kevin, who is an exceptional artist just like his dad. Mrs. Jacobs then mailed the costume to Kevin, who applied the finishing touches to his Christmas creation.

Kevin had devised the gimmick because the area was short on main-event heels, thinking that it might help a greenhorn get over with the fans despite his lack of name recognition. Kevin had a stack of comic-book-inspired gimmicks at the ready, hoping to catch on with the WWF one day in a creative role. Memphis had a long-standing history of outrageous gimmicks, so his Christmas heel idea wasn’t as ridiculous as it may sound today–yes, really.  (Granted, it’s no Xanta Klaus, but….) Jerry Lawler had loved the design, but wondered aloud to Kevin, “Yeah, but who can get under the hood?” His son immediately thought of Jacobs, whom he had been impressed with in his Memphis debut–despite Glenn’s apparent affinity for the works of Lenin.

With his outfit on, the hereby-christened Christmas Creature’s menacing candy-cane-striped arms and the ominous gold tree trimmings wrapped around his mask, chest and legs make him seem like a Christmas tree plucked from the haunted forest in “The Wizard of Oz.” Despite Glenn’s size, the costume makes him look like one of those less-than-threatening villains that Spider-Man used to fight on “The Electric Company” or in the pages of the kid-friendly “Spidey Super Stories.” (Which always featured Easy Reader on the cover, aka Morgan Freeman, saying, “This comic is easy to read.” Not exactly Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight.”) 

I assemble the Creature and Prentice to lay out the finish, repeating Jerry’s instructions nearly word for word, including the King’s usual sound effects when discussing a finish: “OK, so you overpower him for about 10 minutes before the King makes his comeback. ‘Boom, boom, boom,’ you’re punching him and putting the boots to him. He’ll make his comeback–boom, boom, boom–he grabs a headlock. You shoot him into me–‘boom’–I take a bump. Now here comes fuckin’ Bert Prentice into the ring. Bert grabs Lawler, holds him by the arms–‘boom, boom, boom’–you get a few licks in. You run off the ropes to give him a big fuckin’ punch, Lawler moves out of the way–‘boom’–you hit Bert. Lawler rolls you up for a schoolboy, I come to my senses and 1, 2, 3. OK…got it?” With probably only six months of bouts under his belt, the rookie thinks about the sequence for a few seconds and quietly nods.

Despite the fact that Lawler was able to carry the rookie to a decent bout, with the Christmas Creature getting over as a big time heel with the two Jewish kids in the audience that cold December night in 1993, little did I realize at the time that I was working with a future two-time WWE World champion. 

Floss...or die.

 The  journey for Glenn Jacobs from the baddest Yuletide baddie since the Grinch to Kane, the new WWE World champion, was anything but smooth, with plenty of embarrassingly bad gimmicks and angles along the way. After the ’93holiday season, Lawler turned Jacobs into Doomsday (after the DC Comics villian…a heartless promotional tactic to capitalize on Superman’s death) before Jim Cornette gave him with the Unabomb gimmick (playing off the hysteria of the infamous Unabomber) in Smoky Mountain Wrestling months later in 1994. It wasn’t long before Lawler helped Jacobs get into the WWE, this time as the King’s evil, sadistic dentist, Issac Yankem, DDS. Just when Jacobs must have thought it couldn’t get any worse, Vince repackaged him as the “new Diesel,” a gimmick which saw him wearing the same outfit and copying the limited repertoire of Kevin Nash, who had left the Former Fed for greener pastures in WCW. 

Luckily, the Undertaker needed a baby brother to feud (and, eventually, team) with, so Kane was finally born. Despite Kane’s cool, creepy hood, the gimmick appeared to die initially, as fans had been trained at that point to dismiss masked guys as underneath talent in the WWF. But with Jacobs’s solid ring work and the commitment by the Undertaker to help get him over as a rival–as well as Vince chokeslamming Kane down our throats with a relentless push–the big lug finally got over as the monstrous threat he was destined to be. 

Kane was awarded a quickie WWF title reign, winning the belt from Steve Austin at the 1998 King of the Ring in a First Blood Match. (Obviously, Vince Russo booked the finish, which saw “blood” drop the ceiling, covering Austin and enabling Kane to steal the win, per the stipulation.) But this was at the peak of the Monday Night Wars, with the World titles of WWE and WCW changing hands regularly to pop a rating, so Kane dropped the title back to Stone Cold the very next night. The Kane character would go a little over 12 years between WWE World title reigns, practically unheard of in the business. 

Just like Kevin Nash...without the bum knee, laziness, egocentricity, lame jokes and overall bad attitude.

 While it’s easy to question the decision to book Kane (who has been stale off and on at different points) to win the strap from Rey Mysterio at last Sunday’s NO WAY OUT, the character is currently as over as anyone right now, thanks less to a somewhat intriguing angle and more so to injuries and the resulting thin SMACKDOWN! roster. He appears to have one last great feud left with the returning Undertaker, with the storyline that Kane is the culprit who left the Dead Man in a “vegetative state” (which I assume is similar to Mr. Guy Coffee’s condition in his role as commissioner for Jerry Lawler’s Memphis Wrestling). Over the years, the character has survived the “rape” of Lita and subsequent miscarried bastard child, the Katie Vick angle, and losing his mask–and a bit of his mystique in the process–at the hands of Triple H. Through it all, Kane has maintained a near-the-top spot in WWE for more than a decade–not an easy task. 

Glenn Jacobs has certainly come a long way from his days working as a Christmas tree in Memphis. 

 

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  1. July 20th, 2010 at 11:33 | #1

    Except for Cena making them look even worse, I was hoping the Nexus would be behind the attack on the Undertaker. Taking out WWE’s top active legend would make the boys look tough and heartless. But then again Kane beat all of the Nexus in a handicapped match earlier this year.

  2. admin
    July 20th, 2010 at 12:00 | #2

    I like your scenario better, Emperor Mar.

  3. July 25th, 2010 at 00:07 | #3

    The finish of the Austin-Kane title match wasn’t quite as you said. It was actually Undertaker coming in and “accidentally” busting open Austin with the chair, as part of the build to the Austin-Taker Summerslam match. The blood dropping from the ceiling onto Austin happened on a Raw before King of the Ring.

  4. admin
    July 26th, 2010 at 03:00 | #4

    Ah, thanks for setting me straight on the finish, Jason. I must have taken one too many chair shots my self over the years. To all KFR readers, check out Jason’s blog at http://wrestlespective.blogspot.com/

  5. March 2nd, 2011 at 11:35 | #5

    GREAT article! I really think Kane is one of the most underrated Superstars in the industry today.

  6. Oscar Holland
    May 2nd, 2011 at 09:45 | #6

    Kane won the WHC from Rey Mysterio on Money In The Bank 2010

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