Unpopular Opinion: Would Kane's character work without The Undertaker?
There's no question that Kane has Tombstone'd and Chokeslammed the competition all the way to hell and back since October 1997, when the "The Devil's Favorite Demon" made his debut at "WWE Badd Blood" as The Undertaker's long lost and forgotten younger brother. The very sight of his appearance, silhouetted by the ominous red, fiery glow and the evil, demonic theme music that would accompany him to the ring along with Paul Bearer, the very man who also played a big role in The Undertaker's career, as the father figure to Kane that he never had. Kane ripped off the cell door, stepped over the top rope, stared down his older brother and gave The Undertaker a Tombstone Piledriver that would forever alter the in-ring career of Glenn Jacobs, the man behind the mask, as one of the most evil figures in all of professional wrestling in the early stages of WWE's "Attitude Era".
Vince McMahon: "That's got to be Kane! That's got to be Kane!!!"
This begs the question: Would Kane's character work without The Undertaker?
Every superhero needs that perfect villain, that perfect protagonist versus antagonist scenario. The same way that Batman needed The Joker, and vice versa. You can't have one without the other, much can be said when it comes to talking about "The Brothers of Destruction", The Undertaker and Kane. Obviously, in storyline, they're brothers and have been on opposing sides as much as they have been on the same page in the last 21 years. They fought against each other. They fought with each other. Kane became the last major piece to the puzzle for The Undertaker's character, along with the late Paul Bearer, in making The Undertaker whole... in a sense. That's not to say Undertaker needed Kane to continue his successful WWE career, but it sure as hell helped him out a lot, right?
I would like to think Kane would have succeeded without The Undertaker, or by not coming into any sort of contact or storyline feud with The Undertaker whatsoever. This may contradict what I said in the above but allow me to elaborate.
I feel the gimmick is very cool, especially for the time. Here's a guy that came in as this unstoppable force bent on revenge for what had happened to him all those years ago as an innocent child. The burning scars that laid its foundation across his heart, his soul and charred face. He became a tortured soul behind a soulless mask that became his trademark for so many years. Kane is a bit of a superhero when you think about it. Whether he's good or evil, fans could flock to him and get behind his story. The background of his tale can lead fans to feel sympathetic or sorry for him. Others can view him simply as a monster or a killing machine that could rip the WWE roster apart, one by one, during his initial debut.
The storyline was centered around the death of The Undertaker's parents. They were burned alive by The Undertaker at their funeral home (although, it was originally believed to have been started by Kane, who was a pyromaniac, but was later revealed to be The Undertaker in 1998.). This also caused the supposed "death" of his younger brother Kane, whom Undertaker believed to have perished in the deadly fire with his parents. However, as Undertaker would find out from Paul Bearer, Kane was indeed alive and had waited for many years to get his revenge for the death of their parents, for the scars and the burns left on his body and inner soul.
We all know the history from that point on. Kane's debut, as shown above. The series of matches Undertaker and Kane would have. The on again, off again alliances and feuds.
In conclusion, would Kane's character be work without The Undertaker? The short answer would be, in my opinion, yes!
I believe Kane could have succeeded without The Undertaker. Could he have had the same amount of success that he holds today? Eh... maybe not. Would he have been just as successful in the long term? This can be debated, and it's fair to say that without the direct tie-in to The Undertaker, perhaps Kane would not have the same legacy that he holds today. He could be an afterthought once the gimmick ran its course and fans grew tired or bored of the character. Would the evolution of his costumes and character changed things or prolonged his tenure? Definitely!
However, I think if WWE stuck to the storyline of having Kane as this burned, mentally scarred and deranged monster character coming to the WWE with the sole purpose of releasing his anguish, his anger, rage, etc. upon the WWE roster, you could definitely get some miles out of the character and then some. You could say they never caught the person who did the crime that caused Kane to be burned and scarred, along with losing his parents, etc. Let him have that level of mystique to his character. He doesn't necessarily need Paul Bearer or a manager at all. The storyline doesn't need to be centered or based around The Undertaker or his own past to introduce Kane and to get him over with the fans (WWE Universe). Give Kane a series of guys to plow through on his way to the top. In a sense, make him WWE's version of Jason Vorhees (Friday the 13th). Let him be their killing machine that has a story, a level of mystery behind him and a guy that is so driven by his own rage and anger that he no sells and outright destroys the competition one by one for the longest time until you have that one guy who can eventually slay the monster.
One thing is for certain. Kane is one of the cornerstones of the WWE. A future Hall of Famer. He has a legacy that will continue to live on through the annals of time. To the WWE, he is every bit as important to their legacy as The Undertaker.
Do you think Kane's character would have made it in the WWE without The Undertaker? Let us know in the comments below.