One thing that Glenn Jacobs has always had going for him was a multitude of characters on his wrestling résumé — even Kane went through several iterations. Throw in his personal journey trying to find a way to make it as a professional athlete in some way before landing in the political field later in life, and you’ve got a recipe for an interesting life story. As usual for wrestling fans, there’s nothing earth-shattering found in this week’s WWE/A&E co-production of Biography, but there are a couple of nuggets to be sure.
Jacob’s parents Joan and George open the episode by recounting his birth on an Air Force base in Spain, as George was stationed there at the time (Glenn was officially recognized as a U.S. citizen, so there’s no need to start a campaign to see his birth certificate). Not everybody looks the same as their childhood photos, but there’s a picture of Li’l Kane at six years old, looking like a shorter version of exactly who he is now.
Glenn recalls being teased for being big as a kid, but upon entering high school he found basketball and fell in with more popular crowd. He then tried football in college, but tore his ACL (never having it repaired afterwards) which ultimately cost him at a Chicago Bears training camp in 1991. As he was watching the then-WWF on TV with a friend in the same year, he takes his buddy’s advice and gives wrestling a try.
We see footage from March of 1992 of Jacobs wrestling as Angus, then later as the Christmas Creature for Jerry Lawler’s promotion in Memphis — both with clothing made by his mother. He finds his way to Smoky Mountain Wrestling as Unabom where Jim Cornette and Jim Ross pave his way to the WWF.
Before he leaves for New York, though, he persists in asking out a single mother named Crystal whose daughters are fans of the Smoky Mountain shows. Crystal wasn’t too hot on wrestling, but got to know Glenn and they began a relationship, both presuming that he may wrestle for a year or two and that would be that.
They were almost right. Jacobs’ first run in the WWF was as the demented dentist Isaac Yankem, who was basically muscle for Jerry Lawler. Nobody, from Lawler, to Undertaker, to Bret Hart, has anything good to say about the character, but they all speak highly of Jacobs. While he’s floundering trying to make the dentist thing work, Glenn is offered a new role: that of Diesel, replacing Kevin Nash who had departed for WCW.
Again, nobody thinks much of the character, but once more admire how Jacobs ran with it. Actually, correction: his now-wife Crystal has lots of good things to say about his run as Diesel, with his long black hair and leather get-up.
Kevin Nash makes an interesting observation that if you watch Jacobs work as Yankem it was a fast workstyle, but once he was tasked with mimicking the slower-paced style of Diesel, he found a speed that suited his size better in the long run.
Even that run didn’t last long, but Jacobs’ next opportunity would be the one that sticks. After Vader is detained in Kuwait in 1997 for jostling a TV host after he questioned the validity of pro wrestling, the show implies that Jacobs’ transformation into Kane was fast-tracked to give Undertaker a new opponent. The math is a little odd since Vader’s incident was in April and Kane didn’t debut until October, but it nonetheless checks out that Kane is positioned as the next big monster for the Dead Man to topple.
Undertaker was thrilled to be working with Jacobs, and Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn, Drew McIntyre, and Sheamus all remember the awe of seeing Kane arrive onto the scene to challenge his brother. Their rivalry, already covered on A&E in an episode of Rivals, takes them through WrestleMania 14, an Inferno Match, all the way through to them teaming up as The Brothers of Destruction.
Glenn touches on picking up Kane’s trademark head-tilting from playing with his dog who did the same, and Crystal explains that life was like that: everything in their life was eventually about the WWE, and she had to accept that sometimes family wasn’t even the number-one priority for Glenn.
Kane starts gaining popularity and showing new sides to his personality, and finally the mask comes off as part of his evolution. Sheamus remembers being disappointed that it did, and Mcintyre didn’t like it either. JBL says that a mask makes it hard to get sympathy and show people you’re in peril — this from someone who feuded with Rey Mysterio?
Crystal really just wasn’t happy with the odd, half-of-a-bald-head haircut and the loss of the eyebrows on her husband when they were going around town with their daughters. That’s a fair point.
The ending of the episode features a fairly quick survey of Kane’s continued wild ride through various character types, including a snippet from the therapy sessions attended by Team Hell No. Even his run as Mayor of Knox County is surprisingly short, something which Jacobs credits to his career in WWE as it developed his thick skin in the public eye.
There was nothing flashy about this episode but, again, Jacobs’ story is intriguing on its own, and he truly does come off as humbly appreciative of everything that has gone his way in life. Mind you, this is coming from a skilled speaker and political stumper, so it’s not surprising that he would know all the right things to say. All the same, JBL repeats what has been said all episode: some may not agree with his politics (or whether he should have removed Kane’s mask), but everyone who knows Glenn Jacobs loves him.