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For Queen and Country #78 - Wrestleview.com

For Queen and Country #78

For Queen and Country #78
August 23, 2010
By: Daniel R. Browne of Wrestleview.com

This writer finds it amusingly ironic that whilst numerous fans, commentators and assorted marks trumpet the alleged recent progress of WWE, the feud that is set to dominate Smackdown for the next few months – possibly up to Wrestlemania – is a rehash of a very old and overdone Cain versus Abel saga: Undertaker versus, um, Kane...

The original version of this seemingly unending conflict began in October of 1997, and ran on and off for the next two years. In that time, the familial origins of the two brothers from the dark side were explored (and expanded upon) in a succession of increasingly grandiose and melodramatic skits, promos, angles and matches. In something of a paradox, Vince McMahon is keenly aware of the general incompetence of most of the "big men" he's had occasion to push; yet he does so anyway, despite the money, exorbitant attention and hard work they inevitably require from all those around them.

Glen Jacobs was one such example. A tall, large athlete with designs on being a wrestler, Jacobs received two separate opportunities in the then-WWF before he was chosen to portray Kane. His first incarnation – Isaac Yankem D.D.S, the apparently psychotic dentist of Jerry "The King" Lawler – was as daft as they come. Conceived in the backwards vortex that was the World Wrestling Federation circa 1995, the gimmick died an abrupt and unceremonious death, after WWF management realised the idea was a shocker. Oh, and Glen Jacobs was so green not even Bret Hart couldn't do anything with him in the ring.

Amazingly then, the WWF brain trust managed to outdo themselves with their next crack of the proverbial whip. After Kevin Nash and Scott Hall departed the WWF for the financial promise of WCW in the summer of 1996, Jacobs was repackaged under Nash's old Diesel moniker. A vindictive and thoroughly pointless exercise, the second coming of Diesel – and Scott Hall, for that matter – was destined to die on its arse. After two monumental failures, it would be hard for any rational person to understand why a third opportunity would be forthcoming. How helpful then that wrestling fans aren't rational, and Vince McMahon's penchant for large men apparently knows no bounds.

I presented an historical overview of Kane not so long ago, so I'll not repeat myself here. Suffice it to say though, the previously irrelevant and nondescript Glen Jacobs used the character as a means of hauling himself from gimmick obscurity into permanent financial prosperity. A constant since it's original introduction, the Kane character has evolved more wildly than Madonna and become a bona fide WWE institution of thirteen years standing. Not bad for a notional creation that was only intended as a six month distraction for the Undertaker...

Conventional wisdom would indicate the potential of a new Undertaker/Kane feud is undeniably limited. Though their involvement in each other's affairs has been confined to occasional forays and tag matches over the last six years, the viability of another feud between them depends entirely on the emotional investment and legacy of their previous encounters. Incredibly, for two men who have feuded so often and in such typically epic circumstances, 'Taker and Kane have arguably never really clicked in the ring. Most of their matches have comprised heavy-duty brawling and occasionally compelling fisticuffs. It was the use of accoutrements and distractions that so enabled the progress of their initial feud, and it shall be that way once more as they clash over the World Heavyweight Championship for the very first time.

If I might be permitted a moment's optimism (unusual, I know), I personally have higher hopes than usual for this latest war between the brother's grim. This feud will mark the first time – in a long, long time – that a major title and full-blown headliner status has been part of the equation. Kane's consistency (and enduring popularity) has seen an increasingly fickle and capricious Vince McMahon trust in him to carry the marginalised Smackdown during a period of transition and instability.

The return of the Undertaker is a long overdue boon for WWE. The 'Taker is the heart and soul of WWE in the eyes of the hardcore fan elements, and although he is now increasingly unavailable for significant portions of a given calendar year and close to the end of his illustrious run, he remains a vital component of the WWE experience, and his personal affection for the Kane character (and respect for the man behind it) will ensure he will put his battered body through yet more punishing matches and doubtless enjoy his umpteenth swansong title reign...

As usual though, a word of warning abounds. This latest chapter, in the mutual destinies or arguably the two finest gimmick creations in WWE history, serves to underline, highlight and italicise the default mindset of Vince McMahon when the crunch sets in. The decision to pair Undertaker and Kane in a headline feud may possess all the necessary credentials in the short term, but in the long term this feud will do nothing for the future prospects of WWE, or diminish the view that WWE is doing something other than elevating occasionally capable (yet grossly unprepared) youngsters on a whim. The historian and Attitude Era veteran in me will get a kick out 'Taker and Kane once again firing lightning bolts at each other. In the end though, I can't see a point beyond the moment, and that is always a bad thing...

Daniel R. Browne.