While most people have known Glenn Jacobs as WWE superstar Kane for the past two decades, now he’s known as the mayor of Knox County, Tennessee.
But after being identified as the demonic character for so long, how do his constituents refer to him?
“Glenn...(laughs). Glenn's good,” admitted Jacobs.
“I actually did have someone at this thing I was speaking at accidentally call me Mayor Kane. I answer to a lot of things.”
So, it’s probably no coincidence that the title of his new book is “Mayor Kane: My Life in Wrestling and Politics,” which is available anywhere books are sold. It’s a unique story that no one — including Jacobs — ever saw coming as the “hell fire and brimstone” wrestler Kane would one day become a local politician. It was interesting enough that Jacobs decided to detail it in his book.
“When we look at WWE and wrestling, and I was right in the middle of all the stuff in the Attitude Era and all the transitions and transformations that were going on, I think it's an interesting story, especially for wrestling fans," he said. "They'll dig that part of it and then I get to talk a little bit about politics and my personal philosophy and, hopefully, that has an impact on people as well and they find it enjoyable.”
Even the 52-year-old Jacobs was a bit caught off guard when he made the decision to run for office in 2018.
“When I was a kid, I didn't think I wanted to grow up and be mayor, that's for sure,” explained Jacobs. “As I got older and realized how important government policy is, I took much more active notice and interest in all that stuff. It was one of those things — realizing the importance of local government and seeing that I had an opportunity and the stars aligned and I figured I'd give it a shot."
They aligned so well that Jacobs won the election to become mayor of Knox County. And life in office has been “a blast” for the newcomer.
“Politically, this is the best position, I think, because you really get to have an impact, an influence on your community,” said Jacobs. “You're close enough to people that you're able to understand the needs and actually talk with folks and get real feedback. It's really rewarding.
“I always say that when we look at national politics and it's really the sexy stuff, right? That's the stuff that's on cable news all the time and that's what we hear about. But state and local politics are very important. Where you live, who's in government and who's making those decisions has a big impact, and in many cases, as big as what the federal government does on your life and on the lives of your kids and the community.”
The turn to politics for Jacobs comes after nearly 30 years of competing in the squared circle. The past two decades of that have seen him as “The Big Red Machine” Kane — a rarity that a person can portray the same character in the same company for such a long period of time.
“On the one hand, it's a long time but on the other hand, it really goes by in the blink of an eye, when you're in the middle of everything,” explained Jacobs. “I've been very blessed, very fortunate in my life and that's something else I talk about in the book is the opportunities I've had to do some really neat things that I never thought I'd be able to do. That's important to me.
“I have a chapter 'America Really Is The Greatest Country in the World' and that's the reason why. When I look personally, it's been quite a ride. The question I hate the most is what's your favorite match or who's your favorite person to wrestle. I've had the honor in so much stuff with so many different people that it's really hard for me to answer that. Overall, it's been quite a ride and a good ride.”
Jacobs has seen plenty during his time in WWE, including during the famed “Attitude Era” that saw viewership boom to unprecedented numbers. As wild and fun of a period as it was for wrestlers and fans, there was plenty of stress that came with the “Monday Night Wars.”
“It wasn't for the performers because whichever company lost is probably going to go out of business and if you were on the losing end, you're probably going to lose your job," he said. "So, there was actually a lot of pressure and a lot of the stuff was driven by necessity and that competition. It felt like a pressure cooker because, again, your livelihood depended on your side winning.
“But then you look back as a fan and you're like 'wow, that was the most unique time.' We weren't just the hottest thing in wrestling — WWE, I think, was the hottest thing in entertainment. We were competing with everything, beating everything. We had however many straight sellouts across the country and around the world. When you look back, you're like 'wow, what an amazing time.'"
While most fans identify Kane as the devil’s favorite demon who wreaked havoc, there were other layers to the character, including a comedic turn as part of Team Hell No alongside Daniel Bryan.
“That's what I would attribute my longevity to, frankly, is the ability to reinvent myself,” said Jacobs. “And I think that's true for anyone who has a long career. They never stay the same character, quite the same character, the whole way through. Speaking about Daniel Bryan specifically, that was a blast and some of the most fun I had in my entire career because it was an absolute departure from the character that I played earlier.
“If you asked people in 1998 and again in 2004 would Kane be comic relief on the show, they would have looked at you like you were crazy. All of that was amazing. I hope that I was able to show people that I wasn't just somebody who had a mask and didn't talk all the time. There was some depth and I could do some different things and was hopefully a more well-rounded performer than people probably initially thought that I would be.”
— Kane (@KaneWWE) October 24, 2019
Throughout his WWE career, Kane has been closely associated with The Undertaker. It’s no surprise that Jacobs reached him to write a forward for the book with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul writing the other.
“Mark has always been a big advocate of mine,” explained Jacobs. “Our first match was in Smoky Mountain Wrestling back in 1995 and then fast-forward to how so much of my career would be intertwined with his and Kane would be a big part of The Undertaker's story. I have an immense amount of personal respect for him. I would have never been able to do, in my career, what I was so fortunate to do if it hadn't been for The Undertaker.”
Together, Kane and The Undertaker have shared plenty of time in the ring whether it was as adversaries, teammates in the “Brothers of Destruction” and even when “Stone Cold” Steve Austin crashed a Zamboni into the ring before getting his hands on Vince McMahon.
“Yeah and then there's that!,” laughed Jacobs. “A lot of that stuff. Our final reunion and having a match against DX which I don't think anyone thought would happen and everything along the way. Taker came back from the 1000th episode of 'Raw' in St. Louis, winning the tag-team championships. I got to be part of his 25th anniversary match at Survivor Series against The Wyatt Family. So, there's a lot of memories.”
Jacobs rarely appears on WWE television these days with his focus on his full-time job as Knox County mayor. Still, that doesn’t mean he’s retired as he showed up on the Sept. 16, 2019 edition of “Raw” when he won the 24/7 championship, only to lose it later that night.
“I think, with WWE, I don't know if you ever really retire from it all the way, especially folks that are lucky enough to get in the position that I'm in,” said Jacobs. “You can always do stuff and they can find creative ways to use you. That's one of the things I really look forward to. When people ask me if I'm looking forward to getting back in the ring, I'm like, 'eh, I don't know what I'd be doing, but I'm sure at some point I'll do something.'"
While Jacobs has plenty of stories to tell in his book “Mayor Kane,” he also has some advice for anyone else looking to get into politics on any level.
“Be yourself,” said Jacobs. “Don't change no matter what. First and foremost, you have to be in it for the right reasons. You have to improve your community in whatever way, but you have to be you.
“If you want to get into politics, that's one thing but work in whatever way you can to make the world a better place because, in the end, I think that's why we're all put here.”