Monday, April 20, 2015

Instant Feedback: Better Late Than Never

Dunno what shit Kane's been on the last two weeks, but I like it
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Kane has had one of the most interesting career arcs that I can imagine. He's been on the roster for 18 years under that name (20 if you count it from when he started as Dr. Isaac Yankem, DDS), and yet his impact as a big main event player has been limited to small fires here and there. He debuted hot, had a few sporadic runs here and there where he was a spot challenger for the title, and got a token run or two with one of the major titles. Other than those flareups, he's been a background player. And usually, whether on top or as a gatekeeper, he's not shown much fire. I've always found the man behind the mask/facade to be too understated for such an ostentatious role, even if the cues and material given to him by the writers have rarely if ever been meaty enough to sink his teeth into.

For someone to be as tenured as Kane without hitting the prolonged hot streak that someone of that longevity usually hits or without the unbridled critical success is definitely odd. He's not a man who inspires a lot of confidence. People don't clamor for him by and large like they do for other veterans. He's doesn't make fans gasp for breath like Mark Henry even does anymore.

Additionally, the current writing team seems to be acknowledged as one of the worst during Kane's tenure. Stories aren't cohesive, and characters don't get strong motivations. Basically, the sheer performances of the people in their roles, whether it be in the ring or carrying out these milquetoast stories. If a transcendent performer like Dean Ambrose can barely elevate the material, what hope does Kane have?

And yet, the last two weeks, Kane has shown the kind of pathos and fire that usually is reserved for someone with a better pedigree than him. He's not just a man playing a role and going through the motions like he's been as the soul-crushed, dead-eyed Director of Operations. He has morals and principles, and his emotional response is fueled by internal combustion. When he flipped out at Seth Rollins, I forgot I was watching dead ol' Kane and for the first time in forever, I saw someone capable of calling himself the Devil's Favorite Demon. only instead of fearing him, I admired him, wanted to root for him even.

These late career renaissances aren't necessarily rare birds in pro wrestling. Guys may not hit critical strides all the time, but enough instances of wrestlers showing another gear, whether they're seasoned performers from which one can reasonably expect great work like Terry Funk or out-of-leftfield choices like Henry that something like this from Kane isn't exactly a shock. Then again, from a man who was always solid at best, the spark of life behind his eyes and the dragonbreath shooting from his lips caused my mental engine to run. Was he just a man miscast after all these years? Were the boos and constant criticism getting to him? Or is Rollins his ultimate canvas?

The answer to that question is immaterial. For the longest time, I have been wishing and hoping for Kane to break out of his shell, and tonight, he continued shattering the aforementioned shell that he broke out of last week. Sure, he may end up retiring soon to attempt to end the Fed or come up with his own cryptocurrency called KaneKoin, but for now, he's found a niche and is mining it for all its worth. The results have been one of the only things worth tuning into RAW for.