Great-ing Gimmicks of the Past: Undertaker vs. Kane ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬” WWF, 1997-1998
After Kane’s debut at Badd Blood, it didn’t take long for him to make his presence felt. On the October 13th Raw, Flash Funk (2 Cold Scorpio) was scheduled to face Shawn Michaels. Instead, Kane appeared and destroyed Funk.
The next week the Undertaker spoke for the first time since Kane’s debut. He promised that he would never fight Kane.
Kane’s response was to interrupt a match between Dude Love and the British Bulldog (before the Bulldog even came out) and obliterated Dude Love.
Jim Ross had a sit-down with Mankind the next week. Mankind talked about how Kane had attacked Dude Love, then challenged Kane to a match. WWF Commissioner Sgt. Slaughter came out and refused to sanction it, so Mankind attacked the Sarge with the Mandible Claw.
Later, Slaughter sent word that the Kane/Mankind match was set for Survivor Series.
The following week Kane attacked Ahmed Johnson and gave him two Tombstones. Following this, Mankind appeared from the back and attacked both Bearer and Kane.
That brought us to the Survivor Series, where Kane disposed of Mankind.
Undertaker was facing Kama Mustafa (Charles Wright, better known as the Godfather or Papa Shango) the next night when the lights out and Kane emerged with Bearer in tow. Bearer informed Undertaker that Kane wouldn’t be attacking him yet. He wanted to make him suffer more first. Undertaker tried to reason with Kane, but his pleas fell on deaf ears.
The following week saw Sunny as a guest referee for a mini’s match when the lights went out. The minis cleared out and headed for the announce table for cover as Kane approached the ring, only for him to be attacked by the Headbangers, who were wielding a boom box. Kane quickly tombstoned both Mosh and Thrasher before leaving.
Crush (Bryan Adams) was set to face Jeff Jarrett the next week in Jarrett’s in-ring debut after his return from WCW. Instead, Jarrett came out and refused to wrestle, complaining about his locker room the entire time. After Jarrett left and Crush was declared the winner by forfeit, Kane hit the ring and obliterated Crush.
Scott Taylor (Scotty 2 Hotty) was set to take on Brian Christopher (Grandmaster Sexay) on the next Raw. Instead, Kane came out and dismantled Taylor easily.
That brought us to In Your House: D-Generation X. Jeff Jarrett was finally making his debut against the Undertaker. The match was back and forth until Kane appeared. Jarrett tried to shove Kane forward at Undertaker and got chokeslammed for his trouble. With Undertaker being disqualified, Kane slapped him and then he and Bearer left. Jarrett tried to lock on the figure four, but took a chokeslam from the Undertaker instead.
On Raw the next night, the Legion of Doom were squaring off against the Godwinns. The Godwinns had just gained control of the match when the lights went out and Kane appeared. He tombstoned Hawk twice and left, leaving Hawk easy prey for the New Age Outlaws (who were at the commentary table). Animal grabbed a chair and saved his partner.
The next week’s Raw opened with Undertaker talking with Michael Cole about Undertaker’s casket match against Shawn Michaels at the Royal Rumble. The lights went out and Kane and Bearer emerged. Bearer accused Undertaker of murdering his parents and then Kane slapped him. Undertaker blocked a second slap, then simply turned around and left.
The next episode saw Undertaker facing off against Nation member Rocky Maivia. Undertaker managed to win the match despite the interference from the Nation”¦ and then Bearer and Kane made their way to ringside. Kane attacked and left Undertaker lying after Taker continued to refuse to fight back.
The next week the wrestlers had had enough. Chainz, Skull, 8-Ball, Flash Funk, the Headbangers, and Scott Taylor came out and challenged Kane. Kane came down, with the Undertaker close behind. The two brothers fought together and cleared the ring. Afterward, Undertaker bailed and again promised not to fight Kane.
Paul Bearer came out the next week alone. He talked about how the Undertaker had turned Kane against him the week before, and now Kane was gone. Bearer claimed that he’d been frantically searching for Kane, and asked him to come back.
D-Generation X got into the act on the next Raw. Late in the show’s second hour, Shawn Michaels revealed a promised announcement about Kane ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬” namely that he was the newest member of DX. Undertaker came out and ordered Michaels to leave his family out of this. DX took advantage of the opportunity to swarm Undertaker. That brought Kane out of the back to clear the ring. He performed Undertaker’s salute before he left.
That brought us to the Royal Rumble. The main event saw Shawn Michaels defending his WWF World title against the Undertaker in a casket match. In the end, Undertaker was fighting off not only Michaels, but also Hunter Hearst Helmsley, the New Age Outlaws, and Savio Vega. That brought Kane out to even the odds. Suddenly Kane turned and attacked Undertaker, then put him in the casket as Bearer made his way down the aisle. Bearer locked the casket shut, then he and Kane pushed it up the ramp. There they stopped, poured gasoline on the casket, and set it on fire.
Raw the next night opened with Bearer gloating about killing the Undertaker. Druids appeared at the top of the ramp and pushed the burned casket to ringside. It opened and Kane emerged. Bearer again happily talked about how the Undertaker was gone.
The next Raw had footage from what occurred after the end of the Rumble PPV. We saw WWF officials putting out the fire and breaking into the casket to discover it empty.
Goldust (dressed as Vader) was taking Vader on later in the night. Vader hit the Vaderbomb and the lights went out. Kane came down and attacked, only for Vader to successfully hit a piledriver. Kane quickly sat up and tombstoned Vader.
A week later, announcer Wink Collins was in the ring to announce that Wrestlemania XIV had completely sold out in 90 seconds. After he finished speaking, Kane and Bearer arrived. Bearer ordered Kane to attack and that brought Vader out. Vader challenged Kane to a match as Collins escaped. Bearer accepted, and then Vader used a fire extinguisher to drive Kane from the ring.
Kane and Bearer came out on the next Raw to talk about Vader’s interference the week before. Bearer gave Kane an alarm clock with Vader’s face on it which burst into flames.
That brought us to In Your House: No Way Out. (Interestingly enough, the show’s ads changed to refer to it as No Way Out (of Texas) soon after they debuted. Rumor at the time had it that WCW was getting ready to contact the lawyers over the IYH:NWO initials.)
Anyway, Kane faced off against Vader. Kane won by grabbing a huge wrench from under the ring and cracking Vader across the face with it. Vader wound up riding a stretcher to the back.
The next week, Raw was preempted by the Westminster Dog Show. The following episode saw Taka Michinoku set to take on Barry Windham. Windham was in firm control when Kane and Bearer came out. While Windham, Jim Cornette, and their associates cleared out, Kane obliterated Taka. Afterward, Cornette challenged Steve Austin to face Kane the next week.
Sure enough, the next week Austin was coming out to face Kane. Unfortunately, Austin didn’t see Shawn Michaels sneaking up behind him on the ramp. One superkick and Austin was out.
Bearer and Kane then grabbed the timekeeper and had him ring the bell ten times in memory of the Undertaker. After Kane chokeslammed the timekeeper, Bearer wondered who would be next. The lights went out and the Undertaker appeared at the top of the ramp. He spoke of how he had calmed the spirits of their parents before what he was preparing to do.
Things were getting strange on the following Raw. A taped interview skipped and dropped out. Jerry Lawler was trying to interview Kane and Bearer in the locker room and was forced to flee when locker doors began banging open and shut by themselves.
Later in the night, the lights went out and Kane made his way to the ring. They went out again and the Undertaker appeared behind him. After the third blackout, the Undertaker was gone again.
A gorilla kept trying to “entertain” the crowd on the next week’s show. Kane finally came out and dropped the gorilla with no effort.
On the following Raw, we first saw the Undertaker in a graveyard talking to his parents’ tombstone.
Next Paul Bearer brought out Kane to demonstrate his powers. First Kane motioned toward the rafters and fire appeared. Next he blew out the commentary team’s monitors. He followed that up by blowing out a spotlight, and finished off by setting a crew member on fire.
That brought us to Wrestlemania XIV. Pete Rose was the guest ring announcer. He began introducing the match as Kane came out and finally wound up tombstoning him. In the end, the Undertaker got the win after three tombstone piledrivers.
The WWF’s string of success with Kane continued throughout this angle. Kane was continuing to be built up as an unstoppable monster by defeating wrestlers such as Vader and Mick Foley. Add in the fact that the Undertaker refused to fight him, and Kane was definitely on a roll.
Undertaker’s refusals had been so definite, that it was a real moment when Undertaker revealed that the fight would take place.
In the end, the Wrestlemania match itself was a true spectacle from the entrances to the assault on Pete Rose that would (for a while) become a Wrestlemania tradition, to the match itself. Even by losing to the Undertaker Kane remained strong as it took three tombstones (instead of the usual one) to put him away.
WCW deconstructs one of the most influential gimmicks of the mid-90’s without even trying.