It's the first Monday Night Raw of 2018, and The Big Red Machine is chokeslamming Brock Lesnar in front of a clearly underwhelmed audience. Brock dramatically sits up a la Kane, mocking his rival. A brawl ensues leaving viewers aware this rivalry was meant to feel far bigger... but with the Royal Rumble fast approaching, WWE better stop going through the motions with Kane soon.
You could make the argument that Braun Strowman would have livened up proceedings... and it certainly seemed strange to leave him out of this segment, especially after remarking to Kane backstage that he was now the Alpha Monster on Raw. Paul Heyman tried his best to hype the Universal Championship Triple-Threat between them, but (and I say this with a heavy heart) I can't shake the feeling that Kane is fast becoming an irrelevant figure.
Like all wrestling fans, I love Kane; he's a future Hall of Famer, winning every title under the sun during a 22 year career. He's a loyal company guy and played his role magnificently; doing everything that's ever been asked of him, even when it's been detrimental to his character. At 50 years old, Kane probably has one main event run left in him... and if this is to be it... then by god WWE need to give us more emotional investment. They can't expect us to take Kane as a serious threat without better storytelling.
Kane's age is not the issue; he's still able to go in the ring, even if he's looking a lot less agile these days. The problem is he's spent too many of the last few years unmasked/in a suit, or playing comedic roles in tag-teams; if you want us to see him as a monster again... then don't rush it... build up to Wrestlemania and give him the send-off he truly deserves. Fans will happily suspend belief if you give them a reason!
The man behind the mask, Glenn Jacobs is slowly moving towards a life in politics, so it's not like we don't know his WWE career will soon be over. The issue is not with the Kane character but with WWE's lack of long-term planning, which continuously frustrates viewers, especially considering how much television time they have to fill. Everything feels so scripted and poorly executed... and we as fans should continue to voice our discontent with the situation until it changes. It's not beyond the realms of possibility that WWE could actually give Kane a meaningful feud that challenges and engages us before he retires... is it?
With the WWE fans showing apathy towards Kane's recent push... it left me thinking... how many genuine monsters are left out there in the wrestling world. How many men can frighten children and adults alike? Is there someone WWE could bring in immediately to shake things up? Lars Sullivan is currently waiting in the NXT wings, and seems to have all the credentials to go far but it depends on how WWE handles him. Strowman has been one of the companies best successes in recent years; his progression has felt organic, with the WWE Universe getting behind his rise to the top of the card. But perhaps they got lucky... You only have to look at the mistreatment of Ryback (I know he's easy to dislike now, but for a while it felt like Ryback could have been a true main event talent) to understand just how the wrong booking can quickly derail a monster's credibility.
If this was a few years ago, I would have suggested Abyss would have been the perfect fit to join the company. The true heir to Mick Foley's Mankind; Chris Parks has been a fiercely loyal servant to TNA/Impact wrestling, even when he might have had opportunities to leave and earn more money. The Abyss character has shown longevity, from it's James Mitchell origins.. evolving through the Asylum years, working with Hulk Hogan, right through to Decay. Even in the current product, his comedic alter-ego Joseph Parks is helping to put over exciting new talent Ethan Page as his fictional brother Chandler Park. Abyss is one of Impact's greatest talents... and it's imperative he continues to work with the company moving forward.
The talent I would look to bring in as soon as possible is Lucha Underground's Matanza Cueto, played by Jeff Cobb. You might have to repackage him slightly to avoid any legal issues, but at 35, Cobb is in his prime and could be a huge success in WWE given the right booking. He might not be the tallest monster out there... yet still looks physically intimidating enough to scare the living daylights out of the WWE roster.
Cobb's strength, athleticism and wrestling ability have been showcased across the independent scene, and from reading interviews, he seems to be a very humble and hardworking guy. In his mask, he looks like a cross between Batman villain Bane and ECW's Tazz.. but has limited mic skills, so you'd probably look to bring him in with a manager and a series of video packages that build his backstory before debuting at a PPV. Give him a big profile right from the beginning. WWE will be looking seriously in the next few months about replacing Kane's spot on the roster - and Cobb could just be the answer.
Who do you think should be brought in to replace Kane? Who are the best monsters in wrestling today?