Hustle Is Posting Right Now - The Most Underrated WWE Wrestler Of All-Time?
May 19, 2013 - 11:23:23 AM
"Been underrated, underestimated and hated.."
As wrestling fans, we often find ourselves discussing "underrated" and "overrated". This match is underrated. This wrestler is overrated. This moment is underrated. The list goes on and on, really.
Recently, I was on a Skype call with members of the Lords Of Podcast Roundtable for an episode of Raw, and we were looking up wrestling statistics, just for shits and giggles. I looked up one stat, and it raised an eyebrow, so I looked up a related stat. That related stat led me to look up another stat, and after a while, I was starting to form an opinion of a WWE Superstar that may be obvious to some, but is something I had never really thought about before.
Kane is the most underrated performer in WWE history. Hell, he may very well be the most underrated performer in wrestling history.
As I said, that's something that many of you may have thought about before, but it's not something I've put much thought into. Nothing against Kane, of course. I've loved that gimmick since the day he debuted it. Admittedly, I've been wrong on a couple occasions in recent years about just how much Kane has left in the tank, but that's something I'm glad to be wrong about.
The first thing you look at when discussing a wrestler's lasting legacy is titles held, so that's what we're going to start with here. Let's take a look at the titles Kane has won since debuting in 1997..
- One WWF Title reign
- One World Title reign
- One ECW Title reign
- Two Intercontinental Title reigns
- One Hardcore Title reign
- Two WWE Tag Team Title reigns
- Nine World Tag Team Title reigns
- One WCW Tag Team Title reign
- One Money In The Bank victory
On top of that, he was the eighth Triple Crown Champion in company history, as well as the third Grand Slam Champion. I know that his WWF Title reign lasted an entire 24 hours, but the fact of the matter is that he had the title, and that's something that some of the greatest names in the history of the wrestling business can't say about their careers. As you can see, he's had much more success as a tag team wrestler than as a singles wrestler, but his singles work is nothing to sneeze at, with title success at multiple levels. It isn't just title victories that you need to look at, so I want to go even further.
One thing that always comes up when Kane's career is discussed is the Royal Rumble. While he has never won a Rumble, he has created quite the legacy for himself in WWE's annual battle royal. Let's look at some of his overall Rumble stats..
- Record for most eliminations in a single Rumble (11 in 2001)
- Seventh longest time spent in a single Rumble (54:49 in 2001)
- Second most total eliminations in cumulative Rumbles (37, two behind Shawn Michaels' record)
Now, admittedly, the final number is a bit skewed, as the total eliminations count the man's history as Isaac Yankem DDS and "Diesel" before he ever became Kane, but if WWE officially counts the stats in this fashion, so will I. That particular stat is something that could be Kane's record very soon. As I said, he is only two behind Shawn Michaels' record of 39, and the two names behind Kane on the overall list (Steve Austin, with 36, and The Undertaker, with 35) probably won't be participating in any more Rumbles, while Kane could very well be a participant in 2014, if not further into the future. It's safe to say that Kane is the greatest WWF/WWE wrestler to never win a Royal Rumble, as far as stats and Rumble performances alone are concerned. This isn't enough, though. You need to dig even deeper, and get to the stats that really start showing off the man's longevity and overall good luck.
1. Kane has wrestled in more matches on Monday Night Raw than anyone in WWE history. With a total of 379 matches, Kane is ahead of Triple H (374), Chris Jericho (371), John Cena (323) and Randy Orton (319). If you look at those names, you don't see anyone topping Kane any time soon. Triple H won't be wrestling on television much anymore, if at all. Jericho takes too many breaks to focus on his music career. Cena has entered the stage of his career where he doesn't wrestle on television week in and week out. Orton has the best chance of catching up to Kane, but with Orton being one Wellness Policy violation away from a minimum of one year away from the company. If you look even further down the list, just to see if anyone has a chance to reach Kane's number at some point, you see names that won't be adding to their totals anytime soon for one reason or another (Edge, Jeff Hardy, Shawn Michaels, The Rock, Billy Gunn, Matt Hardy and Sean Waltman). Other than the names I've already mentioned, the highest numbers for WWE Superstars currently on the roster are 229 (Christian), 187 (The Miz), 163 (Mark Henry), 160 (CM Punk and The Undertaker), 159 (Cody Rhodes), 156 (Kofi Kingston), 151 (William Regal), 149 (Santino), 142 (Sheamus), and 136 (Dolph Ziggler). Just for the sake of argument, let's say Kane announces his retirement and doesn't wrestle any more matches on Raw. Barring episodes where people wrestle multiple matches, it would take Dolph Ziggler 244 weeks to top Kane's number, meaning he would reach 380 on January 15th, 2018 if he wrestles every single week. Of course, by that point, in this particular scenario, Chris Jericho and/or Randy Orton would have passed Kane's number, so even then, Dolph wouldn't be in the top spot.
2. Kane has wrestled in the third-most matches on Smackdown of anyone in WWE history. With 283, he's only behind Big Show (301) and Rey Mysterio (299), and ahead of Matt Hardy (267) and Edge (221). Matt Hardy, of course, isn't with WWE anymore, and Edge is retired, so those two won't be closing the gap at any time in the near future. Mysterio isn't active, and has been on the shelf for the last couple months with what seems like his 900th injury of some sort, so you can't really picture him getting too many more matches. It really comes down to Kane and Show, both of whom are getting up there in age, but Show has wrestled in more Smackdown matches thus far in 2013 (14, to Kane's 10), so barring an injury or retirement, perhaps Show will be able to retain the lead here.
3. Kane has wrestled in the third-most matches in WWF/WWE pay-per-view history. With 153 matches (I'm counting Extreme Rules), he's only behind Triple H (154, again counting Extreme Rules) and The Undertaker (158). Call it a wacky hunch, but I don't really see Taker and Triple H adding too many pay-per-view matches to their totals. If Kane wrestles at every pay-per-view, he'll get this record at Survivor Series this year, barring the possible surprise pay-per-view appearance from Taker at SummerSlam or Survivor Series, maybe to get revenge against The Shield in some way, shape or form. Again, though, if you're looking at the names behind Kane, the top names currently on the WWE roster (and I'm counting Extreme Rules, as necessary) are Big Show (124), Chris Jericho (121), John Cena (115), Randy Orton (103), Christian (96), Rey Mysterio (91), CM Punk (73), The Miz (63), Mark Henry (61), Kofi Kingston (50), Dolph Ziggler (45), Cody Rhodes (43), William Regal (42), Sheamus (40), R-Truth (38), Jack Swagger (37), Daniel Bryan (34), Tensai (30), Santino & Great Khali (29), Brock Lesnar (28), Alberto Del Rio (27), Jerry Lawler (26), and there's really no reason to continue adding names to this list. Let's play the "Kane retires immediately" game again. For Big Show to even catch up to Kane's number, he would need to wrestle on every pay-per-view for the next 29 months, which would have him tying it up at the October 2015 event. Oh, by the way, Show would be approaching the age of 44 at that point. However, Kane is 46 now, so wrestling at 44 isn't exactly out of the question.
When you look at those three stats, you really begin to appreciate the longevity of Kane's career, as well as the large amounts of luck that goes into things like this. The Kane character made its debut on October 5th, 1997, but Glenn Jacobs' debut was on June 26th, 1995. That means he's rapidly approaching his 18th anniversary with the company. In those 18 years, can you think of any serious injuries he's had to deal with? He had no injuries as Isaac Yankem DDS, and he had no injuries as "Diesel". As Kane, he's had some minor injuries, but nothing too major. He missed a few weeks in 2000 with a hand injury. He missed a couple months in 2002 with a torn bicep. He missed a few months in late-2004 and early-2005, but that was to allow him to film See No Evil. He missed four months in 2011 with a leg fracture. That's really it, though. No broken necks. No torn knee ligaments. None of the super serious injuries we often see in wrestling, leading to wrestlers missing upwards of a year. For all intents and purposes, he's missed in the vicinity of seven or eight total months due to injuries. An 18-year career where you've only missed seven or eight months due to injuries? That's incredible. To put that into perspective, Rey Mysterio has missed 14 months due to injuries.. in the last two years. Mark Henry returned in February, from an injury that kept him on the shelf for about nine months. Christian has now been on the shelf for the last nine months. Evan Bourne just wrestled at an NXT live event at the end of March, but had been out for the previous 14 months due to multiple injuries, meaning it's been over 16 months since he's been seen on WWE programming.
The reason he's underrated is pretty simple. Not only has he never been the guy, having to compete in an era with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, The Rock, Mankind, Triple H, and so forth, but then in an era with John Cena, Randy Orton and so forth. Hell, Kane hasn't even been viewed as the guy in his own "family", having been in The Undertaker's shadow for the last 16 years. However, even though he was never the top guy during the Attitude Era, look at all of the biggest and best names from that era.. Kane has outlasted them all, and remains relevant almost halfway through 2013.
On top of everything else I've mentioned, look at Kane's actual in-ring skills. The man is listed at seven feet tall and 320 pounds, but he has always had some tremendous speed and agility for his size. He can work well with opponents of any size, from monsters like The Undertaker to smaller guys like Rey Mysterio. He can work well with brawlers, technical wrestlers, submission specialists and high-fliers. He can be successful as a violent monster, but can also be successful as a comedy character, showing character versatility. Any and everything he is asked to do, he does, and far more often than not, he does well.
18 years of essentially non-stop action? Check.
Numerous titles won, both in the midcard and main event scene, as well as involving singles and tag team work? Check.
Staying in the shadow of bigger names, all while remaining strong and relevant? Check.
A skill set that is more than just "plodding big man with strength"? Check.
A surprisingly large catalog of really good matches? Check.
The numbers don't lie, ladies and gentlemen. When you look at everything, and you break down the man's entire career, I think it's safe to say that Kane is the most underrated performer in WWWF/WWF/WWE history, and because of it, has a solid case for being the most underrated performer in the entire history of this sport we all love so much.
What say you, ReaderLand? Is Kane underrated? Is Kane overrated? If you don't think he's the most underrated performer, who would your pick be? Holla at ya boy and let me know what's on your mind.
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