Kane spoke with Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated about the origins of his gimmick, and how nervous he was for his big debut at Badd Blood in 1997.
The beginnings of Kane came from Undertaker needing an opponent, so the higher-ups at WWE put together a character and storyline, and the rest was history. Interestingly enough, Kane noted his original name was going to be “Inferno,” but he shot that one down.
“Undertaker needed an opponent for an upcoming pay per view,” Kane recalled. “I was working in USWA at the time for Jerry Lawler, and I can’t remember if it was Bruce Prichard or Jim Cornette who called me, but I was told to stand by. I got another call later that week and I was told Vince really liked this idea and it wasn’t going to be a one-off, that it’s was going to be a storyline. From there, we were off to the races.
“The original name of the character was Inferno. I didn’t like that very much. I though it sounded cartoonish. Bruce Prichard always liked the name Kane, and I liked it, too. It played off Cain and Abel in the Bible, the good brother and the bad brother, and we pitched that. The name got changed, we finally figured out the outfit, and then I had my debut at the [Badd Blood] pay per view.
“I was really excited. I felt I wasn’t going to be successful in my other characters, but this was one where, if I couldn’t be successful as Kane working against The Undertaker, then that was on me. This was my big break, the one everyone dreams about.”
Fans will remember Kane eventually showed up at Badd Blood during Undertaker’s Hell in a Cell Match against Shawn Michaels. Despite it being a big success ? ripping the cell door off and all ? Kane said he was incredibly scared that night.
“I was scared to death,” Kane said. “It’s not only Undertaker in the ring, but also Shawn Michaels, two top guys. This is also the first time a Hell in a Cell match had ever been done. We walked to the ring earlier in the day ? myself, Vince, Bruce Prichard, Jim Cornette and Mark ? and we talked about how we wanted it to go down. I didn’t really say much, I listened.
“Mark was the one who came up with the idea of throwing my hands up and igniting the ring posts. As The Undertaker, Mark would bring his hands up to bring light to the arena. Kane was supposed to be the opposite of The Undertaker, so everything The Undertaker would do, Kane should do the opposite. That’s how we came up with the idea for pyro.
“I was cool by that point, but as I started watching their match, that’s when I saw it was a classic and I stood a really good chance at spoiling this awesome match. I was really nervous about it. Luckily, like you said, I had a mask on and you couldn’t see my face. But there was a pretty high heart rate and a lot of heavy breathing, believe me.”