|Image Source: Paris-Catch|
Running Time: 508 Minutes
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Clear Vision Ltd/Silver Vision
Released: February 23 2009
It's as good a time as ever to provide a retro DVD review on Kane for several reasons. Firstly, this week marks 18 years since the debut of the Big Red Machine. Secondly, Kane is currently back in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship picture, as he faces Seth Rollins at Hell In A Cell in the culmination of a feud that has been months in the making. Finally, I recently provided a review of the Brothers Of Destruction DVD, and last week the retro DVD review was based around his brother The Undertaker, so it's only fair to give the spotlight this time around to the red and black attack.
"Attack" is a fitting word to describe Kane, especially in his early days as the masked, non-speaking monster from Hell; a far cry from his current role as the unmasked Director Of Operations (when he isn't slipping back into the Demon version of his character, that is) or even the unmasked behemoth from the late 2000s who narrates this DVD by introducing matches and, where applicable, explaining their backgrounds in his own, twisted way.
The compilation sensibly kicks off with Kane's first televised match (I know Glen Jacobs played several roles pre-1997 but we're talking Kane here so bear with me) against Mankind, a great brawl at Survivor Series 1997 which strangely exists under a constant red light. Up next are Kane's major collisions with The Undertaker from WrestleMania XIV and Unforgiven 1998, the latter being the first ever Inferno match.
Since this is a Kane DVD, and it was released before he became World Heavyweight Champion in 2010, the most crucial encounter is up next, that being his WWF Title-winning First Blood victory over Stone Cold Steve Austin at King Of The Ring 1998. Notable for the exciting action and shocking ending, I also still marvel at the fact that Mankind interfered having just nearly been killed in a Hell In A Cell match against Undertaker.
The Kane character moved away from his brother and onto new situations in late 1998/early 1999, such as a partnership with X-Pac. Here, we get their first WWF Tag Team Title win over Owen Hart and Jeff Jarrett, which despite horrendously overdubbed commentary and crowd noise was a fairly memorable match at the time. (I have memories of this title change for another reason. This was on the April 5 1999 Raw, having been taped on March 30. But I attended a WWF house show in Birmingham on April 4 where Kane and X-Pac, wrestling in separate matches, were introduced as titleholders. This was in the relative infancy of the Internet so this, for all intents and purposes, was one of the first examples of a "spoiler alert", and by the WWF itself at that. Topping it off, back then Raw wasn't shown until Friday nights, so it was five more nights before UK fans could watch the now-expected title change.)
Kane ended up feuding with X-Pac (for far too long, this was the Randy Orton-Sheamus of its day), and on this DVD we get a surprisingly entertaining Steel Cage match between the two from Armageddon 1999. The remainder of disc one covers Kane's coffee-induced feud with Chris Jericho and a Last Man Standing match from Armageddon 2000, and Kane's partnership with his brother (then in his biker period) via a three-way tag from No Way Out 2001.
Disc two opens with Kane striking gold again at Judgment Day 2001 in a forgotten Chain match against Triple H, which is a nice addition to this DVD. Another fun inclusion is Kane's WrestleMania X8 match with Kurt Angle, a bout amongst the many overshadowed that night by The Rock vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan. An injury shortly afterwards put Kane on the shelf, leading to his return in August 2002 with a new-style mask and outfit. The momentum, if one can call it that, of his comeback led to our next match, his double-title meeting with HHH at No Mercy 2002. The bout itself is okay, but it occurs as part of one of the worst WWE storylines ever which is simply referred to as "Katie Vick" (Google it if you're unsure; I'm not going into detail on this ugly saga). The other match from this phase of Kane's career is in the early part of his partnership with Rob Van Dam as they take on Chris Jericho and Christian, with Shawn Michaels and a then-very inexperienced Randy Orton at ringside.
Kane's character changed forever on June 23 2003 with his unmasking. Over the next few months, WWE did a brilliant job of revitalising Kane by doing the one thing which most assumed would have killed the persona off forever, that being the removal of his mask. Oddly, the main source of Kane's wrath would be Shane McMahon, who he faces here in a Last Man Standing bout from Unforgiven 2003 and in an Ambulance match from Survivor Series 2003, which are fun but a bit heatless (Shane really lays the blows into Kane in these scraps). Before this, we get a rare Raw Cage match between the monster and Rob Van Dam, who was the "lucky" recipient of Kane's first post-mask chokeslam.
Bizarrely, Kane's superbly-promoted re-rivalry with Taker in late 2003/early 2004 isn't referenced here. Instead, to close disc two, we jump ahead to the poorest Raw storyline of 2004 (SmackDown was very poor that year), and Kane's daft-on-paper Till Death Do Us Part bout with Matt Hardy from SummerSlam 2004, where the winner would get to marry Lita. You read that right. As a "treat", we get the Kane-Lita wedding as a DVD extra. (Funny how Lita married twice on WWE TV, and on neither occasion was it to her long-time boyfriend Matt Hardy.)
Up next, we have another forgotten match, an Unforgiven 2004 meeting with Shawn Michaels. After an encouraging start to their feud, it was virtually ignored until the time came for the two men to lock horns, but fortunately it ends up being a really enjoyable clash. Kane would then move onto a feud with Snitsky (showcased here by a No Holds Barred bout from a 2005 Raw), which was caused by Snitsky causing Kane's on-screen wife Lita to have a miscarriage and thus lose their baby. I kid you not, this really was the plot-line for this feud. I told you 2004 was a bad year in WWE.
The DVD then gives us two Kane vs. Edge matches from Raw, under Steel Cage and Stretcher rules, which are watchable but really exist to prepare the Edge-Matt Hardy rivalry, an incredibly juicy backstage scandal come to life. Kane would largely play an insignificant role over the next twelve months, with one highlight being the May 19 saga concerning the release of his first movie See No Evil (I actually got a kick out of this storyline, partly because my birthday is May 19, so I enjoyed the frequent references to the date). One slightly important feud from this time was Kane's rivalry with Umaga, highlighted here by a September 2006 Raw clash.
Kane ended up on SmackDown, where he would feud with MVP (no matches from their conflict are on this DVD, oddly), occasionally reform his partnership with The Undertaker (we see the Brothers Of Destruction team up here against King Booker and Finlay), and challenge other new foes, such as King Booker (who he takes on at No Way Out 2007) and Finlay, who he faces here in a fun Belfast Brawl from a September 2007 episode of SD. An April 2008 TV meeting with Taker (which is more angle than match) is the DVD's last bout, although the extras include Kane's 24-Man Battle Royal win and subsequent (very short) ECW Title victory over Chavo Guerrero on the evening of WrestleMania XXIV, which provide a more fitting conclusion to the DVD. In addition to the aforementioned Kane-Lita wedding, a number of other bonus segments are also included, including a hilarious one of Kane impersonating The Rock and Hollywood Hulk Hogan, and in one extra which I found very cool, an extended recap of the entire storyline which led to Kane's debut at In Your House XXVIII: Badd Blood. More bonus material can be found by the inclusion of several Easter Eggs by right-clicking and left-clicking two or three times (they vary) on different chapter headings within the DVD menu across the three discs.
I personally really enjoyed this DVD. If you're a Kane fan, which I am, this compilation couldn't have had much more relevant content than what is included here (the links are skippable but are understandable given the psychotic nature of Kane's character), at least considering that it was produced in 2008. The DVD shows the evolution of Kane's character and, at least amongst the extras, the versatility of Kane's talents; whilst The Undertaker is undoubtedly an all-time legend, I would argue that he (or at least his character) is not as versatile as that of Kane, perfectly displayed by Kane's priceless Team Hell No combo with Daniel Bryan in 2012-3. And even today, 18 years on from his arrival, Kane remains an important part of WWE television, and is playing his most versatile role yet by portraying the demon character and the Corporate persona at the same time.
Some may say that this DVD doesn't exactly rank as a great wrestling compilation, which to be fair is true. However, this DVD is aimed at Kane's fans (obvious, I know), and it definitely should meet their expectations. It's possible that we may get a future DVD with a documentary covering Kane's entire career, including his real-life experiences and some interesting facts about Glen Jacobs (did you know that he was born in Madrid, Spain?) and the post-2008 portion of his career. We may get it in the next two-to-three years if Kane retires during that period, which is a genuine possibility. But whilst we wait for such a release, Kanenites should be more than satisfied with this release on one of the most underrated yet important characters of the last 20 years in WWE.
Overall Rating: 8/10 - Very Good