Through hell, fire and brimstone, Kane is going to the Hall of Fame.
Glenn Jacobs, the performer who turned Kane into a household name in wrestling for more than two decades, is being honored by WWE with an induction into the company’s Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2021. The ceremony will be held on April 6.
“This is the greatest honor of my entire pro wrestling career,” Jacobs says. “There have been so many people that helped me get here, and I can’t wait to say thanks to each of them. It’s a tremendous honor, one that I’m still trying to process.”
Now the mayor of Knox County, Tenn., the 6' 8" Jacobs possessed a size and athleticism that appeared to have him destined for fame in wrestling. Yet reaching an elite level in the industry is incredibly difficult, and he struggled to produce meaningful work over the first quarter of his career. This included two unsuccessful stints in WWE, first as evil dentist Isaac Yankem, DDS, which was followed by an uninspiring stretch as the fake Diesel. By 1996, with Jacobs’s struggling to connect with the audience, a future in wrestling was hardly guaranteed.
“If you told me we’d be having this Hall of Fame discussion when I was Isaac Yankem, I never would have believed you,” Jacobs says. “There were tough times, and, early on in this journey, I was never a sure thing. But my stubbornness served me well. I’m extremely thankful for that, and I am so grateful for this career. I grew up on a farm in Missouri, and wrestling gave me an extraordinary life.”
His trajectory forever changed when he donned the gear that turned him into the “Big Red Machine,” debuting at the Badd Blood pay-per-view in October 1997. Kane ripped the Hell in a Cell door off its hinges during the main event and attacked the Undertaker, who was revealed to be his half-brother.
Nearly a quarter of a century later, Kane is still part of WWE, partially because of the quality of that original story, but also largely due to the brilliance of Jacobs’s work throughout many different iterations of the character.
“The secret to longevity in WWE is being able to reinvent yourself,” Jacobs says. “I took so much pride in this profession, doing different things. Team Hell No with Daniel Bryan added an entirely new dimension to the Kane character. Who ever would have thought Kane could be comedic relief? A lot of that credit also goes to Bryan, who was an amazing partner. And I always took a lot of pride in showing my range as a performer.”
Despite having a number of different roles in the company, teaming in very entertaining tag teams with X-Pac and later alongside Bryan, as well as a stint as Corporate Kane, Jacobs’s work in the WWE will always be defined by his association with the Undertaker. They met in two different WrestleMania matches and teamed together as the Brothers of Destruction, but it was hitting Pete Rose with a Tombstone Piledriver in Boston at WrestleMania 14 that was the first real indicator that the Kane character had built enough equity with the fan base to exist in story lines away from the Undertaker.
“The story line with The Undertaker was so well detailed,” Jacobs says. “It was a story of betrayal that was personal, and it was something very different for him, so it set me up for success. Then I was able to show I could succeed on my own away from him, showing off different sides to my character with Sean Waltman and Hurricane [Helms]. I was able to give Kane a life on his own. That’s one of my proudest achievements.”
There is no better choice for a Hall of Fame induction speaker for Jacobs than Mark Calaway, who stood beside—and across from—him as the Undertaker, though Jacobs noted that has yet to be determined.
“I’m not going to speculate on anything,” Jacobs says. “This is all so new. I’m just so grateful for this honor.”
The chance to live on in wrestling’s most prominent Hall of Fame, surrounded among icons of the industry, is an honor that Jacobs does not take lightly. He knows the sacrifice, dedication and devotion necessary to succeed in pro wrestling, and he is grateful to have his work recognized as worthy of WWE’s Hall of Fame.
“For me, it doesn’t get any better than this,” Jacobs says. “The WWE Hall of Fame is a who’s who of wrestling greats, the greatest superstars of all-time, and it is the greatest honor of my career to be inducted into it.”