Inception is the commencement, the beginning, the birth or debut of an event. In the WWE, nothing can be as impactful and telling as a Superstar’s debut. When you have one chance to make an impression in the always evolving landscape of WWE, you have to put it all on the line to steal the show and be memorable. A debut can often be the precursor of success, or footnote on an otherwise illustrious career. This week covers the debut of Smackdown superstar, Kane.
Paul Bearer had long been the manager of the Undertaker, so when Bearer cost the Undertaker his Broiler Room Brawl match against Mankind at the 1996 SummerSlam event, the wrestling community was in disbelief. It wasn’t until the fittingly titled In Your House 14: Revenge of the ‘Taker, that the Phenom would exact retribution on Paul Bearer. After successfully defending the title in a fierce match, Taker set his eyes on Bearer trapping him into the corner and sending a fireball into his face.
Bearer would return to television a few weeks later requesting to realign with the Undertaker or else he would reveal Taker’s biggest secret. For weeks Bearer would torment the Undertaker by threatening to reveal something that would change the world. Undertaker ultimately ended up refusing to reunite with Paul Bearer which led to Bearer revealing a startling discovery from his past.
On the June 30, 1997 episode of Raw is War, Paul Bearer revealed that when Undertaker was a boy he burned down the funeral home that his family lived above, killing them in the act. Later that night, Paul Bearer came out to accuse Taker of being a murderer. In the midst of Paul Bearer’s berating of the Undertaker, Taker grabbed him by the collar and began to smack him demanding that he tell the truth about what happened. Bearer claimed that it was Undertaker’s brother Kane that had told him of the events that happened and that Kane was in fact ALIVE!
Kane’s arrival was teased for weeks by Bearer but it wasn’t until Undertaker was embroiled in a barbaric feud with The Heart Break Kid, Shawn Michaels, that he actually made an appearance. At In Your House: Bad Blood 1997, The Undertaker would do battle with Shawn Michaels in the first ever, Hell-In-A-Cell Match. The two icons would be battle tested as they put their bodies on the line, colliding with the steel structure.
The Undertaker controlled most of the match and when it seemed like he was ready to put the proverbial nail in the coffin, he smacked HBK in the skull with a steel chair. Taker signaled the end, sliding his thumb across his throat, but the arena lights went out. Dark, sinister music began to echo through the venue. Making the way to the ring with Paul Bearer was the enigma of Kane. As they made their way to the steel structure, flames emblazoned the entrance way lighting up the arena. Demonstrating his brute strength, Kane ripped the door off the cell and attacked referee Earl Hebner before making his way to the into the ring, standing toe-to-toe with his brother. An intense stare off ensued before Kane signaled his blistering pyro and lifted The Undertaker up hitting him with the Tombstone Piledriver before leaving the arena. HBK capitalized on the opportunity as he covered Taker for the win, barely surviving the match.
Kane had such a prolific debut that made him an immediate main event star in the WWE. It’s hard to imagine what the WWE’s landscape would look like without Kane. Throughout his eighteen-year career, Kane’s resume would include being a twelve-time Tag Team champion, a two-time Intercontinental Champion, WWF Champion, ECW Champion, and World Heavyweight Champion, Money In The Bank Winner, and would hold the record for most accumulative eliminations in the Royal Rumble. Kane would also be the centerpiece of some of the most outrageous and entertaining storylines in WWE history, including kayfabe marrying WWE Hall of Famer Lita and the infamous Katie Vick storyline. In reflection, Kane’s debut skyrocketed his career into WWE Superstardom and was the catalyst for one of the greatest characters in WWE history.