Kane On Jim Cornette’s Legendary Temper, His Weight Lifting & More

Kane was a recent guest on “The Steve Austin Show”. During the interview, he touched on an incredibly wide range of topics. Here are the highlights:

On Opening A Wrestling School With Tom Prichard:

Tom Prichard is one of the top trainers in the entire world. He’s just awesome and it’s one of those things where people would always come up to me and go, ‘How do I get into the wrestling business?’ Well, to get to WWE you’re gonna have to go to the Performance Center, but Booker T’s got a great school in Houston, Lance Storm has a wonderful place in Calgary. Well, those are in Houston and Calgary. I thought to myself, ‘You know, Tom Prichard is just sitting here in Knoxville and he’s one of the very best in the world.’ Again, those are guys that I trust. There’s some others around, but specifically those two guys. I’m telling people to go south for miles. Why don’t we just do it here? I think it’s gonna be a great partnership. Tom has trained people like Kurt Angle. He’s trained all these different Superstars. For me, at this point, this business has been very good to me. Sometimes I worry about the pipeline of talent, anything I can do to help talent get into it the right way because a lot of people aren’t going to take the right path. Anything I can do to help folks get into it the right way, I think is beneficial to all of us and that’s really the reason why. For me, it’s just a waste of Tom’s talents not to be doing this and that was also a big motivator.

On What He Would Have Done If Not For Wrestling:

I was thinking about teaching. What happened with me is that I had always been a fan of wrestling ever since I was a little kid. I sort of fell off in high school. We lived out in the country. We didn’t have cable TV. It was one of those things where if the wind was blowing right on a Saturday night, I could watch All Star Wrestling out of Kansas City…. I got to high school and go to a friend’s house and every once in awhile we’d get to watch NWA and WWF, at the time, but I wanted to play basketball. I went to college on a basketball scholarship. I didn’t lift weights in high school, so I was a skinny kid when I graduated. I started lifting weights between my senior year of high school and first year of college. I put on 30 pounds, I think, over the summer and I just kept on putting weight. By the time I was a senior in college, I weighed 290 pounds. The football coach comes to me and is like, ‘What are you doing? You need to play this.’ It was a Division II school, small school and I still had eligibility left to play football and I started playing football. Not to toot my horn, but I was a great football player because I had all those years of playing basketball. I had the athleticism. I had the strength and the size and everything. I was getting looks from NFL teams and I thought I was gonna play in the NFL, but then I blew my knee out, first practice of game week and that pretty much ended my football career. I was thinking, ‘What else can I do?’ I’d always been a fan of wrestling. [Hulk] Hogan was super hot and thought I’d give it a try. I thought I’d be good at it. That’s how I got into the world of professional wrestling.

On His Actual Size & Weight:

I’m 6’8” and right now I weight about 290, 295. The heaviest I’ve ever been has been about 320.

On His Best Weight Lifting Numbers:

I was never a great squatter or dead lifter. I was OK. I could squat probably about 600, deadlift about 550. I was a good bench. My best bench was 525. That was straight, no bench press suit or anything like that. It was just a raw bench. Being so tall, it’s not like I have a power lifter’s body.

On Jim Cornette & His Legendary Temper:

Al Snow and George South had a TV match, which was Al’s debut on Smoky Mountain Wrestling. They go out and Jim told them to have a ten minute, do lots of high spots and Al was gonna beat George with his finish, a leg lariat off the top rope or something like that. They go out and they did the handshake spot for five minutes, where the heel’s gonna shake and Cornette’s sitting there and watching it and he’s like, ‘The thing about Al is he’s a great wrestler, but he’s not used to TV and having lots of action in a match.’ So they come back and Jim goes, ‘It’s not exactly what I wanted guys.’ George – this is probably the first time in the history of the business that a babyface called out a heel like this – but he sends George back out, who says, ‘Al Snow, I bet you can’t beat me twice in one night.’ They were supposed to do a couple high spots and Al just rolls George up or whatever. So they go back out and they do one high spot and one thing and then Al rolls George up. Cornette, he was like a volcano, he slowly starts cursing. Everybody is leaving the room and I’m sitting there like, ‘What in the hell is going on here?’ All of a sudden his face starts changing into all these shades of red and finally just purple and he’s throwing stuff and going off and I’m like, ‘What in the world is going on, man?’ Then come Al and George and Jimmy. He just swallows and looks them in the eye and says, ‘Guys, that wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but I’ll make it work.’ That’s when I knew I stepped into a different world than what I was used to.

On The Support Of His Wife:

She’s just very grounded. She never got involved in any of the drama, which I tried to avoid as well because that’s really what does it, right? We all have to remember that we’re just people doing a job at the end of the day. A lot of times the guys talk about how hard it is to be on the road and it is, but it’s just as hard on your family. I’ve been very fortunate because Crystal is very strong and just grounded. She’s not afraid to tell you something is B.S. She understands all that stuff and never bought in to any of the things that kind of go along with stuff. People start thinking that they’re bigger than business or that they’re a Superstar. Crystal never bought into any of that and that’s probably why I never did either because she wouldn’t let me, frankly. Also, I made a commitment an no matter what our relationship has always been the most important thing, more than the career, more than anything else.

On The Isaac Yankem Character:

He’s a dentist [laughter]. It wasn’t my idea [laughter]. Another guy that I owe a lot to is, of course, Jim Ross. Jim Ross was on hiatus with WWE, but he was working as Cornette’s announcer. JR likes big guys and he got me a tryout with WWE, so I was super excited….within a couple of days, Cornette talks to me and says, ‘They’re gonna sign you. They want you.’ I’m thinking this is awesome and that this is exactly what I want to. I get a call and they want me to meet with Vince [McMahon] and JJ Dillon, who is the head of talent relations….I’ve never been in a limousine before so I’m thinking to myself, ‘I have made it. I’m a WWE Superstar. It doesn’t get better than this.’ They take me to the office in Stamford, CT….Vince walks in….and asks me, ‘Have you ever been afraid to go to the dentist?’ I think this is one these things where I am going through a personality test or something. I’m like, ‘No sir.’ He’s like, ‘I’ve always had this idea for a wrestling dentist: Isaac Yankem. I Yankem.’ Then he starts doing the Vince laugh…I’m sitting there trying not to react and he says, ‘I’ll think you’ll be great for it.’ Then he walks out. I’m sitting there from feeling like I was on top of the world to feeling like the world had fallen on top of me, ‘A wrestling dentist?’

On Working With Bret Hart:

The gimmick just wasn’t something I felt comfortable doing, but I had the opportunity to work with people like Bret Hart, legitimately one of the best of all time. In fact, my first match was at SummerSlam and it was against Bret. We were the semi-main event at SummerSlam and it doesn’t get any bigger than that, frankly. That was a huge deal and Bret’s always been good to me. Luckily, I think later I had much more success with the Kane character. I look back on that now and wish I had been doing Kane when Bret Hart was there in WWE. I think we would have had some killer matches and much more of those. He was always great to me and working with him was a tremendous learning experience. That’s for sure.

On The “Fake Diesel” Character:

I came home from overseas and Vince explained what they wanted to do and that I was gonna be the Fake Diesel. The concept or storyline was excellent because what happened is that JR would turn heel and he was gonna prove that he was actually the creative mind behind WWF’s success and that it could be replicated with anybody and it was gonna be me and Fake Razor [Ramon]. The problem was that JR was not really a heel character. People like him and that didn’t work very well. A lot of times when we’re looking at storylines, the concept looks great, but it just doesn’t work in reality. So much of what we do is based on if the audience accepts that and they didn’t really except this whole thing. No matter what it’s still the Fake Diesel and the Fake Razor, but at least I wasn’t a dentist anymore.

On Becoming Kane:

I’m not sure exactly who it was because so much of what we do is a collaborative effort. The story as I understand it is this. This was right after the Kuwait trip that Big Van Vader was arrested. He was detained in Kuwait and Undertaker needed an opponent. They’re panicking because, ‘Who is Mark gonna work with at the next pay-per-view?’ So, they come up with this idea that was Kane. It wasn’t even called Kane yet. It was called Inferno, which was the character’s original name. Basically they were gonna hot shot it and they were gonna use me because physically I could match Mark’s size. They would put me under the hood and no one thought about the other characters, but then Vince was liking the idea. The story is great. You had these two brothers that were almost mythical creatures. The other one tried to kill him in the fire and all this back story they had going into that and that’s where they came up with the character Kane.

Bruce Prichard always love the name Kane. In fact, he had a son named Cain and I pitched that too, ‘You know Inferno sounds like a cartoon name. Kane, you know, Kane and Abel and all that stuff.’ When Taker first debuted at Survivor Series in ‘91, I think, he was Cain The Undertaker and he was Cain The Undertaker for two weeks and they dropped the Cain part and just called him The Undertaker. Then you had the backstory of ‘Taker’s original name and was that an homage to his brother and all that stuff? Of course, I’m thrilled because I’m gonna get to work with Undertaker. It can not get any better than that.

On The Kane Gimmick Impacting Him On A Personal Level:

Not only am I in a great spot, but like you said I have this awesome gimmick and people bought into it from the very beginning. It wasn’t one of those things where you had babyface or heel, it was just cool. It was awesome and it changed my energy and my outlook as a performer because you always have that part of you that kinda has to buy into things to be able to pull it off and I was able to buy into this.

On His Relationships With The Undertaker & Vince McMahon:

We already had a conversation two years prior when I was Isaac Yankem. That’s a lot of the reason that when I got the Fake Diesel character that it was a lot more successful because I realized what I had to do because Mark already had a conversation, but after the Kane deal it wasn’t like he ever stood up and said it, but I understood. A lot of times, again, I’d mess up and feel bad about it and the reason I’d feel bad is because I felt like I’d let him down. He had invested so much in the character. The first night I dropped him. I tombstone pile drived The Undertaker. That never happens. That made me right off the bat and anything I would do to mess that up hurt him because he had done that for me. I would go to him once and awhile and say, ‘So and so wants me to do this,’ and he’d counsel me, ‘Do whatever you want to do, but I wouldn’t do that, if I was in your spot.’ That was awesome for me.

A lot of what I’ve done even outside of WWE and outside of wrestling, with success I’ve had in other areas, is because of things that I’ve learned from him just by watching how he does things and approaches business. The thing about Vince is you really have to be at his level and you have to act like you are at that level with him. I think he always values people’s input, but you have to be confident, I guess. I’ve learned with Vince the more I’m confident about what I’m talking about and the more strongly I feel about something, the more he respects my opinions and that’s a good spot to be in. He does listen to his talents.

A lot of times, you walk in and think you’ve accomplished something and walk out like, ‘I just came out and am doing the same thing I didn’t want to do when I went in.’ A lot of times I have been able to be like, ‘This is why this is not a good idea or this is why this is a good idea,’ and he does end up listening to you because he trusts you, especially the longer you’ve been there, especially with a guy like me. He realizes i’m not in there just for me. I’m in there because I may have a different perspective than he does, but it’s still in the best interest of his company. I’m not in there just trying to do something myself. Another thing about Vince is that he’s super loyal. If you’re loyal to him, he’s going to be loyal to you.

You can listen to the episode of “The Steve Austin Show” featuring Kane by clicking HERE

Credit: The Steve Austin Show. H/T Wrestlezone

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