A great thing about being a wrestling fan is that when it comes to quality, you can have it both ways and have a great time. Sometimes, the bad is just as enjoyable as the good. Sure, seeing them get it right and tell a good story with some amazing in-ring work can make it all seem worth it, but seeing a company completely trip over its own two feet is also rewarding. Wrestling is absurd as is, both on the screen and off, so seeing things go completely Dadaist can be very welcome.
That said, bad wrestling stuff is even more surreal when you string a bunch of it together. Like there was a year-plus storyline involving the Undertaker in the mid-90s that included Leslie Nielson, George Kennedy, Chuck Norris, Nicholas Turturro, Dominos Pizza, Undertaker wearing a 1776 flag, Undertaker being lynched by the entire heel locker room, Undertaker exiting out of a giant TV screen and flying into the heavens, Undertaker fighting his evil doppelganger, and Paul Bearer cross-dressing to escape murder charges. It’s wonderfully weird.
For people who love poking fun at the dumber side of wrestling, May 19 is practically a holiday. In 2006, WWE tried hard to make us remember that date and now we hold onto it more than they originally intended.
It revolves around Kane, which shouldn’t be a big surprise, since he’s a magnet for ridiculous storylines.
The story’s true starting point begins as far back as the fall of 2005. They were building towards Taboo Tuesday, a PPV where the fans would get to vote on every match of the night. They debuted it a year earlier and it was a pretty fun show. Part of it was because WWE makes sure not to lie about voting results and lets the fans dictate what’s going on, such as having Shelton Benjamin compete for the Intercontinental Championship when WWE would have rather had Batista take that spot.
The 2005 Taboo Tuesday was a bit different because while WWE still let the fans vote, the narrative was especially different, namely in the main event storyline. John Cena was WWE Champion and was feuding with Kurt Angle. Three qualifying matches on Raw would bring in three potential challengers. The last of which was a battle royal featuring the surprise return of Kane. His win was in no way in question, considering the rest of the ring was filled with one of the saddest collection of forgettable midcarders in WWE history like Eugene, the Heartthrobs, Super Hero in Training Rosey, and 2005 Val Venis.
Yes, Val Venis was still around in late 2005. I’m just as surprised as you are.
We ended up with Kane, Big Show, and Shawn Michaels. The fans would vote on which one would be added into Cena vs. Angle at Taboo Tuesday, making it a Triple Threat. The other two would become partners against the tag champs Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch. All well and good, but WWE hedged the hell out of their bets.
For one, the trio had their own Triple Threat and Michaels won. Second, Michaels got his own one-on-one match with Cena in the lead-up. Third, Big Show and Kane were forced to be tag partners a couple of times. Instead of attacking each other, the two sort of found a kinship upon realizing that they were both dominant giants who loved chokeslamming guys.
So going into the show, they had done everything they could to make the fans understand that Shawn Michaels would be a perfect opponent for Cena and Angle while Kane and Big Show would make for a neat tag team. As expected, Michaels won with 46% of the vote (Kane with 38% and Big Show with 16%).
Big Show and Kane proceeded to steamroll through Cade and Murdoch, becoming World Tag Team Champions. Their run was one of – if not THE – most dominant tag title runs in WWE history. They continued to feud with Cade and Murdoch on Raw and spent months as basically the tag team equivalent of Bill Goldberg, completely crushing any opponents in their way.
For the most part, their defenses weren’t even on PPV because they were so one-sided. They did have a non-title match at Armageddon against WWE Tag Team Champions Batista and Rey Mysterio from SmackDown. Kane cleanly pinned Mysterio in that instance.
The tag belts stopped being their focus for a bit. Big Show split for a little while to feud with Triple H while Kane challenged for the WWE Championship. They crossed paths in the 2006 Royal Rumble match, where they went from destroying everyone to having a friendly battle that ended with Triple H sneaking up and tossing them both out at the same time.
Big Show and Kane as the Colossal Connection 2.0 kept blazing through the competition, culminating at WrestleMania 22, where they defeated the team of Carlito and Chris Masters. After the match, Carlito attacked Masters, which was supposed to turn Masters face, but the crowd was really into it so they figured, whatever, they would just make Carlito the face in this situation.
Lasting five months and two days, Big Show and Kane’s reign finally came to an end the night after WrestleMania, when they faced the Spirit Squad. Although it was supposed to be two-on-two, a ref bump and five-on-one cheating allowed the Spirit Squad to win the tag belts.
And now we’re at the point where the story started to go off the rails.
The following week, Big Show and Kane got their rematch. Prior to the match, Kane was stumbling around backstage, grabbing his head and hearing voices telling him, “May 19th,” and, “It’s happening again!” Big Show found him, asked if he was okay, and told him that they had work to do.
In the match against the Spirit Squad, Kane completely lost his shit and started destroying the entire Squad. His use of a chair got him disqualified. Then he beat up the ref. Big Show stepped in, but got chokeslammed for it.
So what was May 19th? Well, May 19th was the release date of See No Evil, a WWE Studios horror release about to hit theaters. Originally titled Eye Scream Man, it starred Kane as Jacob Goodnight, a seemingly-unkillable, religious lunatic with a zest for removing the eyes of his victims.
This was during a time when WWE actually gave a damn about their movie releases, mainly because they were still in theaters and not straight to digital. They wanted people to be as aware of the movie as possible and their biggest attempt at that was to build a storyline around May 19th. Hey, it beat the time they dedicated a SummerSlam main event to No Holds Barred.
The mere mention of that date would drive Kane into a frenzy and he’d attack whoever said it for reasons known only to Kane. This was a big problem as the company went out of its way to have everyone talk up See No Evil. Backstage, Big Show tried to calm his buddy down and offered to give him some support, but Kane was all, “SAY THAT DAY AND I WILL KILL YOU, I SWEAR TO GOD!” and that just invited Big Show to angrily repeat “May 19th!” until Kane bloodied his eye.
The match was signed for Backlash ’06. Big Show vs. Kane. It was every bit as bad as you’d expect it to be, especially since Big Show was probably in the worst shape of his life around this time. While the children in the audience were totally into it, it seemed to slog on forever until Big Show attempted to tear out Kane’s eye. Instead, Kane threw him to the outside and things got crazy.
The arena lights turned red and Kane started hearing his own voice, constantly whispering the same few cryptic phrases over and over again. He writhed around on the mat, holding his head, all while Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler pretended not to notice all the theatrics. Any coolness that could be perceived fell out the window when it just wouldn’t end and we kept hearing all the whispered lines on loop. Big Show, crying like he was the boy in Old Yeller, picked up a chair and smashed Kane in the head with it. Big Show then walked off in sadness and frustration while Kane sat up with a smile on his face, seemingly because he could no longer hear the voices.
It was kind of embarrassing to sit through.
Kane’s obsession and hatred with May 19th continued, albeit with nobody to feud with. He was just this loose cannon part of the WWE, being plugged in wherever while they kept plugging his upcoming movie.
This included a backstage interview segment where three of the actors from the movie talked up how creepy and unwelcoming Kane was on the set. Samantha Noble didn’t even try to keep a straight face in this bit. Michael Pagan made a point to say that nobody knew when the movie’s release date was going to be during the making of it, so Kane wasn’t freaking out back then. Then he excitedly mentioned May 19th a few times, pointing out how it’s the perfect time to release a movie. In the middle of these musings, Kane appeared and angrily strangled him on the spot while the others ran off screaming.
That was followed by one of the most bizarre and unique Raw segments in history. Kane was put in another match against with Big Show. Now, those two have battled it out a million times over the years and we usually know what to expect. Jim Ross even stated that we wouldn’t be seeing any kind of catch-as-catch-can grappling between the two.
But he was wrong. That was exactly what we got! Kane and Big Show chain wrestling.
It was actually a brilliant character moment that was lost on a lot of people. Big Show still liked Kane. He considered Kane his friend. He really didn’t want to hurt the guy. He just wanted his pal back. He offered his hand to Kane early on and Kane accepted the handshake. Rather than turn it into a violent slugfest, Big Show busted out hammerlocks and drop-toe-holds and the like. He’d smile and do a little jig after a takedown to playfully show off his fancy footwork. It was his way to appeal to Kane and get him to lighten up.
Now, I can’t in any good conscience call this matwork GOOD, because the two were still slow and, as I mentioned before, Big Show was at his fattest, but it was amazing. It was so strange and unexpected to see this out of the two of them and Jim Ross was the icing on the cake. It genuinely seemed that he didn’t know this was going to happen ahead of time and he was stoked by what he was seeing.
Kane appeared torn on whether he was amused or frustrated, but the friendly exhibition came to a halt when the voices returned. This time, the Titantron featured a CGI image of Kane’s old mask, surrounded with fire. Kane lost his mind and beat down Big Show with a chair.
Another segment that May revolved around the feud between Shawn Michaels and the faction of the McMahons and the Spirit Squad. Michaels was given the job of refereeing a match between Kane and Rob Conway. He just had to do it while wearing a yellow shirt covered with “MAY 19TH.”
If you don’t remember Rob Conway, you aren’t missing much outside of this beautiful theme song. Listen to it. Look at him.
Conway arrived first and taunted the doomed Michaels, only to receive a punch to the balls. Michaels then removed his shirt and forced it onto Conway, just before Kane made his entrance. As Michaels hung back, Kane proceeded to thrash poor, t-shirt-wearing Conway for several minutes.
It was like a big Twilight Zone twist based on Conway’s theme song.
SmackDown was on Fridays back then, meaning there was indeed a May 19th edition. That show was in the middle of its own thread of stupidity with Rey Mysterio’s World Heavyweight Championship reign. Although Rey held the belt for a little while, they decided that “underdog champ” meant “he has a ton of non-title matches and loses every single one of them, but wins the actual title matches.”
You know, like Seth Rollins booking, only as a face.
Mysterio was going to be defending against JBL at the next PPV and JBL set up a non-title match with Kane. He preceded the match by tricking Mysterio into saying what day it was. Kane appeared, beat up Mysterio, and then started to have one of his episodes. JBL stepped into the ring and demanded Kane go back to crushing Mysterio, pointing out that it was Mysterio that said, “May 19th!” which caused Kane to lay out JBL as well.
Essentially, Kane was Candlejack from Freakazoid.
And so, See No Evil was finally released. It made under $5 million on its opening weekend and got trashed by the critics, but it still came out as a financial success in the end, especially when it hit DVD. Besides, WWE got fans chanting its release date during matches to egg Kane on, so I guess the silliness paid off.
Speaking of silliness, because I absolutely need to fit this in somewhere, according to former WWE writer Dan Madigan, Vince McMahon wanted there to be a scene where Jacob Goodnight masturbated with a three-foot-long dong. Thankfully (?) that did not happen.
WWE’s hype for the movie led to one genuinely funny moment in a backstage segment involving Gene Snitsky. Once Kane’s blood rival, Snitsky had been repackaged as an upbeat dude with a foot fetish. Yes, really. Anyway, he suggested seeing See No Evil on a date. Very casually, he mentioned, “We can go see the new movie from Kane, See No Evil. I once killed his unborn fetus, but we’re over that now. I hear it’s really scary. You like Chinese food?”
WWE continued to talk up See No Evil, but the release date had come and gone. There was no longer a May 19th to look forward to and therefore, Kane wouldn’t be grabbing his skull and frothing at the mouth. So…now what?
Simply put, things would get even MORE batshit.
It started sanely enough with Kane coming clean with the meaning of his outbursts. May 19th was the date when his mother and adopted family were burned alive, causing his big, red origin. He had tried to suppress the memory, but the constant mentioning of that date set him off. Kane was happy, though, because the date had come and gone and he could celebrate the release of his movie and go back to doing what he loved: beating up people for money and getting cheered for it.
That night, he faced Shelton Benjamin and proudly decimated him, but the Kane mask appeared on the screen once more. It warned him that it was not over. It would never be over.
Out walked Kane. Or, I should say, 1997 Kane.
Actually…no. It was Luke Gallows dressed in an awful Party City 1997 Kane outfit. Any impact the Kane vs. Kane showdown could have had was fizzled by the terrible wig they made him wear.
Regardless, Imposter Kane chokeslammed his doppelganger and we had a new feud: Kane vs. his eviler double. Their match would take place at Vengeance at the end of June.
That meant a month of Gallows-Kane terrorizing Jacobs-Kane. Jacobs-Kane tried to pick a fight with him backstage, but was undone by Gallows-Kane’s superior mind-game prowess. Namely, the ability to flicker the lights while verrrrry slowly sneaking up behind him.
One week, Jacobs-Kane was busy brawling with Randy Orton on top of the ramp after a double count-out and out came Gallows-Kane, appearing via elevator ala Gangrel. The imposter once again dominated and this time threw Jacobs-Kane off the stage and onto the concrete.
Jacobs-Kane was asked about the imposter and admitted he knew who he was. He didn’t name names, but he said he knew him growing up. He acted rather disturbed, talking about how this guy was way too sadistic. Purposely or not, the promo had a real, “He touched me in a bad way,” vibe going on.
At Vengeance, Gallows-Kane looked a hell of a lot better. All things considered, he did a pretty damn good job copying Kane. The match wasn’t much, but I’ve seen much worse. It just didn’t grab anyone and got a handful of “BORING!” chants towards the end. At the same time, there was a brief moment where the fans chanted for Jacobs-Kane to tear off the imposter’s mask.
The match ended with Jacobs-Kane jumping off the top rope and getting caught with a chokeslam. The imposter won and the feud was seemingly going to continue. Except, according to Gallows, when he went backstage, they told him he did a fine job, but they were going to kill the angle since it wasn’t catching on.
On the very next night, Jacobs-Kane had a match against Randy Orton. Once again, the imposter showed up. Although Kane lost due to distraction into an RKO, he had his revenge afterwards by absolutely destroying Gallows-Kane with a series of chokeslams, including one on the ramp. After a commercial break, we saw him drag his rival around backstage, tear his mask off (showing him from behind), and then throw him through the exit.
That was it. That was the big payoff. The dissolution of the dominant tag team. The confusing and violent mental episodes. That entire line of storytelling was finished with an abrupt beatdown of a bad guy that was never actually identified. Once he cleaned his hands of that feud, Kane simply left TV for a while to promote his movie and came back for a forgettable feud with Umaga.
Some pieces of this storyline lived on. The following WrestleMania featured Kane vs. Great Khali and Kane busted out Jacob Goodnight’s chained hooks for a moment mid-match.
Imposter Kane was never mentioned again, but every now and then JBL would make a subtle reference when commentating on May 19th. Surprisingly, WWE never seemed to go farther with the callbacks than that.
Eight years after the original, they made a sequel to See No Evil. Instead of promoting it with televised silliness, the most we got was a storyline on YouTube’s JBL and Cole Show where Clem Layfield (JBL’s dopey nephew who looks an awful lot like Heath Slater) was traumatized when Emma made him watch See No Evil 2. Corporate Kane decided to make it up to him by becoming texting buddies.
God, I miss that series.
As for the Kane/Big Show bromance, they did end up finding themselves faced against common enemies when feuding with the Corre. The two had a brief tussle backstage where they strangled each other, but Kane stopped, smiled, and admitted, “You complete me.”
They even had another run as tag champs, though not nearly as fun as their 2005-2006 reign of terror. As faces and heels, they regularly teamed up over the years. In fact, their appearance at Royal Rumble ’15 is a lot like their appearance at Taboo Tuesday. Much like with Michaels years earlier, WWE wanted the fans to get behind a certain top face and figured that they could manipulate the support by putting him up against Kane and Big Show while pushing them as an unstoppable team.
It…didn’t work as well this time.
Happy May 19th!