Features

Why WWE’s Kane Deserves A Triumphant Exit by Matt Corton

There’s nothing in WWE quite like a triumphant return, is there?

We’ve all got our favourites. Rock’s return to host Wrestlemania. The Dudleys coming back to the shock of the New Day, to the extent it wasn’t ruined by Titus O’Neil’s crappy commentary. The Hardyz returning at ‘Mania. My own personal favourite – Big Show returning at the hardcore Rumble and chokeslamming everyone in sight.

So I thought for my own triumphant return I should make sure I delivered something spectacular. My ass has been well and truly kicked by work, I’ve been gone for a few weeks to recover and this is my blaze of glory comeback against all odds, my name hits on the website, my equivalent of entrance music, and I’m back here to talk about…

Kane.

Now, the more observant among you may notice that Kane isn’t exactly the hot topic around WWE at the moment, other than having received an endorsement from someone completely obscure to me, as a Brit, to run for Mayor and potentially leave the world of wrestling behind.

Well, that’s frankly a damn shame.

Not because I think Kane should be an essential part of TV at 50 years old. Not because I think he can give us a retirement match of the year because the guy frankly seems quite limited in what he can do now. It’s just because having a triumphant exit is just as important and just as meaningful as having a triumphant return.

Kane’s WWE TV career shouldn’t go out with the fizzle of a Wyatt Family triple threat match alongside American Alpha. Not that there was anything wrong with that match, it was a perfectly fine TV match – but I don’t want to see Kane go out like that.

Kane will always be one of my favourites, but he should retire. There aren’t many of the guys of Kane’s generation left. Rock, Stone Cold, Undertaker, Mick Foley, Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair have all wrestled their last match. Only Triple H, Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle (he has to wrestle at least one match, surely?) and Kane are left from what I consider the golden age of wrestling when there were often more than 12 guys at any one time who you could see with the title, rather than the narrow band, short-attention-span focus of just 3 or 4 as is the case now.

I’ve written on here before about how Kane has always been one of my favourites – but more for what he could have been than what he has been. Two title reigns is nowhere near enough for Kane to have been taken as seriously as he was by commentators and in storylines.

I don’t believe in wrestlers ‘not needing the title’. It’s crap, frankly. Bray Wyatt was wrong last year – he is more important as a wrestler now that he has won one of the big two titles. He will seem more of a threat in the next title match he’s in because he has won it before. It’s not a difficult concept – if you’ve won it before you can win it again. Randy Orton is a bigger star because of his multiple title reigns. John Cena vs. Ric Flair in title reigns matters. Kane having two title reigns in 13 years is stupendously poor if he’s a supposedly near-undefeatable monster.

I can forgive the last six or seven years because Team Hell No was so great – probably even the most entertaining thing Kane has ever done, after which he was probably past his prime. But the guy should have been up there with Stone Cold and the rest more often before that. He should have been a proper monster – and whilst he has a very protected match record outside of World Title matches, he hardly ever won when it was for the gold. He didn’t get the job done.

They even referenced that in a storyline when Stone Cold tried to motivate an ineffective Kane in 2003 – something I really wanted them to make more of and take more time over. So whilst I can forgive the last six or seven years of Kane’s career, I can’t forgive the time in between 1998 and 2010. Twelve years without a title is not a strong character – it’s a man who loses when it matters the most.

It’s not like he needed long title reigns. It’s not like he needed guys to lay down for him. But if you make Kane the near-unstoppable monster who is actually near-unstoppable in all matches and not just on TV, then you get the chance to have him really put over the guys who actually do manage to beat him – in a very similar way to how they have used John Cena in the past few years.

Instead, you got title matches where you kinda knew Kane was just going to lose. He was just a big guy for them to beat before the real big feud started in a few weeks.

So what I want for Kane is for him to have one run – just one – where he really doesn’t lose. He doesn’t need to win the title, it’s too late for that, but he should do something big before he goes out. And how should he go out? Well, I have two ideas – but they’re both a three-month program.

The first is, we continue to wait a bit. We wait until the Royal Rumble. Kane has always had a huge presence at the Rumble, still holding the all-time record eliminations at 44. He should have won the Rumble once in his career, but he didn’t. He shouldn’t now either – that’s for a younger wrestler with a brighter direction to take on. But he should nearly win it. And it’s that coming close that should propel the rage that drives him to dominate from the point of the Rumble to Wrestlemania.

Where he has his triumphant exit.

Option 2? Well, that’s simple. He comes back in a few weeks, as a surprise. Something dramatic like appearing in the middle of a Bray Wyatt match and destroying everyone and everything in sight. From there he interrupts a match on every single show for a month, taking everyone in that match out. He never, ever explains himself. Eventually the GM of whatever show he’s placed on confronts him and we hear just three words – “I don’t care”. We have a wildcard, interfering, dominant, devastating Kane, and the crescendo builds to the one, final match.

I haven’t mentioned an opponent, right? Well, I toy with the idea of it being Brock Lesnar. I’d really like to see that match one-on-one – but frankly Brock has been so dull in the past year that I’ve gone right off the concept. I don’t want to see Kane take 10 or 20 German Suplexes, I want to see Brock wrestle a proper match against Kane. It isn’t going to happen, so I’m discounting that. Do I want it to be someone like AJ Styles or Seth Rollins? I don’t think that would make much sense for Kane to lose to a smaller guy given the build up I’ve tried to give him above. Braun Strowman then? That would be excellent – Braun could probably take Kane to a good match, but it would be a big man match and that’s not quite right for Kane’s last match.

No, the final opponent for Kane has to be Roman Reigns. The man who retired the Undertaker should retire Kane. That’s Roman’s legacy built in forever right there – and it’s also the moment where he fully turns heel. When he retires Kane, whether it’s at Summerslam or Wrestlemania or something in between, he should enjoy it. It should make him smile, laugh and gloat that he, as one man, retired the Brothers of Destruction. It completes Roman’s turn to the dark side and he will become everything I ever wanted Luke Skywalker to be, because I will always rail against the light arts.

We saw one legend end his career this year by laying his hat, gloves and coat symbolically in the middle of his yard. I think it would be great, and fitting, if in the same year we saw the Deadman’s brother lose his own last match – and you should lose your last match and pass that torch, I think – and after the ring posts light up, the lights go out and we see nothing more than a pile of ashes in the ring with Kane’s mask on top. He retreats into his own particular part of hell that’s reserved for the Devil’s Favourite Demon and we never see him again. I’d even grant the grace of one last “yes” chant with Daniel Bryan before those lights go out for the last time. Daniel’s reactions would be ours – sorrow for the turning to ash of what has frankly been one of the best characters WWE has ever produced.

This isn’t a guy who has had four of the best Wrestlemania matches of all time like his on-screen brother The Undertaker has, but he sure as hell deserves a fitting goodbye because we will never, ever, see his like again. From every return he has made, to every solid performance he has delivered, to the sheer concept of his character, Kane is a one-off we should be given a chance to celebrate just that one last time.

What do you guys think? Do I see Kane through Rose-tinted glasses? Are you done with him already? Or do you think his lasting memory should be something more than throwaway TV?