Professional wrestlers often say that the most successful wrestling characters are ones that are an exaggerated version of the wrestler's real-life personality.
Fortunately, that's not true in the case of Glenn Jacobs, who says that there are absolutely no similarities between himself and Kane, the menacing character he has portrayed in World Wrestling Entertainment for the past 13 years.
"If there were, I'd probably be in jail," he said with a laugh. "It's like Anthony Hopkins and Hannibal Lecter. It's just so far removed, and you're able to do things that you would never ever dream of doing."
Indeed. The villainous Kane is a tortured soul who takes great delight in torturing his opponents, which over the years have included the likes of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Among the heinous acts Kane has committed in WWE are setting an announcer on fire, dropping former WWE CEO Linda McMahon on her head and applying jumper cables to a foe's groin and connecting them to a battery (all of which took place before WWE was PG programming).
Kane, the current world heavyweight champion, will continue his reign of terror at 1st Mariner Arena on Tuesday night at WWE's "SmackDown" television taping.
Outside the ring, Jacobs isn't nearly as scary. He comes across as a polite, articulate guy who just happens to stand nearly 7 feet tall and weigh more than 300 pounds. When he's not wearing spandex and administering choke-slams as Kane, Jacobs, an active member of the Libertarian Party, writes a political blog called The Adventures of Citizen X and has delivered speeches on Austrian economics.
Jacobs, one of WWE's longest-tenured performers, says he has thought about one day following in the footsteps of former pro wrestler Jesse Ventura and entering the political arena. For now, he's in no hurry to leave the ring.
"I'm still having fun," said Jacobs, 43. "I'm really at the height of my career, and I don't have any plans of packing it in, at least not in the near future."
Jacobs has been enjoying a career revival of late. He had spent the past several years in WWE in more of a supporting role, but the on-again, off-again feud between Kane and his "brother," The Undertaker, has heated up again and thrust Jacobs back into main events.
Jacobs started with WWE in 1995, playing a demented dentist named Dr. Isaac Yankem. The character didn't really catch on, nor did Jacobs' subsequent character, Diesel. However, when he was presented with the chance to play Kane and engage in a twisted sibling rivalry with WWE's legendary Undertaker, Jacobs knew he was onto something.
"Getting to work with The Undertaker right off the bat was a tremendous opportunity," he said. "It was an opportunity to be a career-maker, and fortunately I was able to take advantage of that."
The Kane character has evolved significantly over the years, and that has allowed Jacobs to display his range as a performer.
At first, Kane was a masked mute who was molded after slasher movie villains such as Michael Myers and Jason. Eventually, he lost the mask and found his voice, although he still did most of his talking with his fists. These days, Kane frequently delivers over-the-top monologues, with thousands of fans in packed arenas and millions of television viewers hanging on his every word. Jacobs even starred in the WWE-produced horror film "See No Evil" in 2006. Sometimes, Jacobs doesn't get the script for his matches until 30 minutes before showtime, he said.
"Honestly, I think we in the WWE are very underrated as performers," Jacobs said. "What we do would be very difficult for even an experienced actor. To go out and sometimes have 15 minutes of verbiage, sometimes have to ad-lib and then, of course, have other variables such as the interaction with the audience, it can be challenging."
If you go
"WWE SmackDown" begins at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday at 1st Mariner Arena. For ticket information, go to http://www.ticketmaster.com/wwe. Ticket prices range from $20 to $75
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