Kane remembers the night he unmasked
When Kane made his debut at Badd Blood 1997 – revealing himself to his half-brother The Undertaker – the WWE Universe immediately began to wonder what The Big Red Monster looked like under his mask. The belief was that Kane had perished in a fire long ago, so it was assumed that his mask and bodysuit covered Kane’s burned and scarred flesh.
As The Big Red Monster’s career continued beyond his rivalry with The Undertaker, his look remained mostly the same until the early 2000s. Learning how to speak with positive encouragement from X-Pac, Kane altered his mask to fully reveal his mouth. The Big Red Monster also adopted more athletic ring gear, showing that his flesh wasn’t charred at all.
On the June 23, 2003, episode of Raw, Kane battled Triple H inside Madison Square Garden with his mask on the line. The Big Red Monster ultimately lost the contest and finally revealed his face in The World’s Most Famous Arena. However, there was more to the shocking revelation than just a match stipulation — the man under the mask knew it was time to lose the hood.
“I felt like I had gone as far as I could with the mask at that point,” Kane told WWEClassics.com. “At the time, the only people behind the decision to remove it were myself and Mr. McMahon.”
Excited at the prospect of unmasking and creating new intrigue around his persona, Kane was more than willing to do away with the mask.
With his face now revealed to the world, Kane lost the anonymity he’d previously enjoyed and was now recognizable everywhere he went outside of the ring. It should have been a jarring lifestyle change, but the former World Heavyweight Champion explained that wasn’t actually the case.
“You’ve got to understand, I’m a really big guy with really long hair,” Kane said. “When most people see me, they don’t think I’m a nuclear physicist or a horse jockey. Pretty soon people connect the dots.”
For the better part of the next decade, Kane remained unmasked and continued to find success, capturing the ECW and World Heavyweight Championships and winning the Money in the Bank Ladder Match.
In December 2011, Kane re-emerged with a mask and a newfound aggression not seen since he first appeared in 1997. Still, the return of his masked visage did not lessen the impact of that night in New York City nearly 10 years earlier.
“I think the mask adds a lot of mystique, because you never know exactly what I’m thinking,” Kane said. “When I was unmasked, you didn’t really get that sense, but since it went back on, you get the best of both worlds.”