As I looked at him
On this particular card, I was booked against Glenn. As I looked at him across the dressing room, I thought that hmmm…this guy could pose a slight problem. Most guys who stand 6-foot 9-inches tall can create a huge problem if they want to. At this point in my career, it was all about going to the ring and not getting killed. Or dying in the ring. That was my main priority. Days that end in death, especially your own, cannot be considered a productive day. Or that’s what a wise man told me once.
You have to be always be leery of new guys, especially on independent shows, because for all you know, the guy could have just killed his whole family or robbed a convenience store right before he showed up for his match or have an AK-47 in their bag. On independent shows, an established guy is flying blind so most guys like me kept an eye out for the unusual. You just never know in indy wrestling.
I talked to Glenn right before the match but that was only talking. If talking was the only thing I had to do, well I could talk fine. But the match would tell the story.
Time for the match came and I went to the ring. The place was so full you could hardly move. It was jammed packed, like the glory days of the Mid South Coliseum. Well, not really. There were about 150 people there but it sure makes the story sound better doesn’t it?
As Glenn stepped into the ring, he suddenly looked much bigger than he did in the dressing room. You can always tell how much experience or training the other guy has sometimes just by watching him enter the ring. On this particular night, Glenn looked pretty good. That was a good sign but still he had to pass the initial lockup and I was dreading it. Dreading it because this kid had potential and the size. Then the bell rang and we locked up. Beautiful. I’ve locked up with some strong looking, big guys before and they can hurt you just in the lockup. One time I locked up with this imbecile of an opponent and we collided heads and he almost knocked me out. But not tonight I thought. Glenn didn’t kill me, which was the benchmark I was looking for.
Even though I had never heard of the guy, I was amazed a guy that stood 6-foot 9-inches could move the way he did. Glenn had a natural flow to his movements that reminded me of Mark Calaway. I found out later that one thing that Mark and Glenn shared was the sport they excelled in— basketball. I’ve always found that basketball players tend to be better wrestlers than football players. Why? Basketball players have to perfect the art of balance and finesse whereas football players just beat the living crap out of each other, which tends to be a big no-no in wrestling.
After the match, I spoke with Glenn backstage. I was impressed that Glenn, being such a HUGE guy, was as humble as he was. Glenn was a very intelligent man and easy to be around. He had the size, the ability and the temperament to handle the wrestling business and I knew he was going to be a star someday. All this kid needed was experience and direction. In many ways, Glenn could have been Mark Calaway No. 2. Several years later, the WWF/WWE proved me right.
At the time, I was headed to Puerto Rico to take over the booking job there and I asked if he would be interested in going. I told him he wouldn’t get rich but he would make a living but he would gain experience. When I got to Puerto Rico, I called Glenn, about 2 weeks later and set a date and booked him full time.
After I had booked him, Glenn called me a week later and sounded worried. He told me that he had heard a lot of horror stories about Puerto Rico and was concerned that he could get there and get stranded. He actually had a point, because Puerto Rico did have a bad rep among the wrestling brotherhood for valid reasons. One was the death of Bruiser Brody just six years earlier, and another was the fact that guys got paid late—or not at all. Facts such as that had a way of getting around fast, as Puerto Rico did have a history in that regard. I told Glenn that I would make sure he had a round-trip ticket just to allay his fears and that he would be paid on time.
So Glenn had strong reservations about coming and I knew that. But two things brought him to the island. One was the promise that I made him that he would be fine, and the second was his dream of making it big in pro wrestling. Dreams are a strong addiction and Glenn was addicted to the dream. His dream was to make it to WWF/WWE and he knew that to get there, he would have to pay his dues. He had to learn the wrestling business.
Since 90 percent of the territories were out of business by that time, Glenn didn’t have much of a choice when it came to learning the business. This was about four or five years before WWF even considered implementing a developmental system.
When booking Glenn, I called him Doomsday. Why? Hell, why not? It was a good name and since most of the island didn’t speak English, it didn’t make much difference. As soon as he got to Puerto Rico, he stayed in a hotel that was about three blocks from where I was staying, as I had arranged for him to stay with Eddie Gilbert who had just started in the territory. Eddie is an entire other story all by himself. So let’s stay focused on Glenn, shall we?
I had a beautiful condo right on the beach that the office was renting for me. I could look over my balcony and the Caribbean was my backyard. All I had to do to get to the beach was cross over a small courtyard and bingo, I was there.
Since I lived way down the beach from the tourist areas, many mornings it was just me, totally alone on the beach with no tourists or locals in sight. After awhile, I felt like Tom Hanks in the movie, “Castaway,” but of course without Wilson, the soccer ball.
After Glenn had been in Puerto Rico for a couple of weeks, Eddie apparently got up one morning and left the island. He just left without telling anybody of his plans. Not even Glenn until the morning he took off. No notice, no nothing. I was OK with it except professional courtesy, in any business, dictates at least a notification. But that comes with the wrestling territory in Puerto Rico. Some guys could take it and other couldn’t.
How I found out that Eddie had left was when Glenn knocked on my door at about 10 o’clock in the morning. As I answered the door, Big Glenn was standing there with all of his luggage. Immediately, I knew something had happened. Glenn told me that Eddie had left and he needed a place to stay.
Well, now what, I thought? As I looked at him outside my door, I invited him in and Glenn became my new roommate by accident or destiny or both. I didn’t mind because I had another room that wasn’t being used and it would be much less expensive for him.
One thing I’ve always loved about PR was the weather during the winter months. When it was cold in the U.S. with ice storms and snow all over the place, Puerto Rico was always nice and sunny. I used to call Puerto Rico weather, especially in the winter months, Ground Hog Day weather. Every day it was 86 and sunny. With no humidity. Listening to a weather forecast was like listening to a loop tape. It’s the same crap every day.
Today…it’s 86 and sunny. It was 86 and sunny yesterday and the day before and the day before that. And it’ll be 86 and sunny tomorrow and the day after that. I even learned it in Spanish….ochenta y seis y soleado. You also get the weather reports for the Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic, Aruba, Trinidad, Jamaica, Barbados and all the other little islands that make up the Lesser Antilles. It’s always 86 and sunny, unless there’s a hurricane and then it’s not so pleasant anymore. I got caught in one and believe me, it’s not fun.
I’m somewhat of a camera buff and included in this chapter is a photo I took of Glenn right outside my condo at the pool which bordered the beach. This photo was taken in February 1994 and you can see how nice the weather is. Guess what? It was 86 and sunny. Glenn didn’t like Puerto Rico at first but after seeing its positives, he grew to like it. Not the wrestling part but the island part.
We only worked four days a week in Puerto Rico at the time, which gave Glenn plenty of time to work out and train. He trained like an animal, or he said he did. I believed him. I believe most things guys who are 6-foot 9-inches tall tell me.
Glenn learned fast because in Puerto Rico, things moved fast. I had to have Glenn directly involved from the beginning, which meant he was learning by OJT—on the job training. The trips were short so again, just like I did with the Undertaker when he was starting out, I did with Glenn. After the matchs were done and Glenn and I left for the trip back home, I would tell him what he needed to do to improve his game. Glenn became a student in good standing at the University of Dutch. Later on, he became the most favorite student of all time at ‘U of D.’ More on that later.
Another thing that I liked about Puerto Rico is that time almost stands still. Nobody gets in a hurry. Nobody. Nobody is ever on time in Puerto Rico either. Nobody. If the show is scheduled to start at 8:30 p.m., that means the start time is negotiable. That could mean 8:57 p.m. or it could mean 9:43 p.m. But one thing it doesn’t mean is 8:30. If you tell somebody to meet you at 4:30 p.m., they’ll show up at 5:17 p.m. or something crazy like that. Don’t ask me why. It just is.
Whenever I booked Puerto Rico, the territory always did good business and for one reason. I had clearly defined ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys.’ There was none of the ‘gray’ areas that confuse people. When I went to the ring, I was the ‘bad guy.’ I was the one the fans wanted to see get the crap kicked out of. Fans have always hated me there. And I them. Bastards. As you have already read, sometimes I fought more fans than I did opponents. I’ve fought myself out of more rings in Puerto Rico than anywhere else I’ve ever worked. I’ve often said that the Puerto Rican fans, when I was there, thought the space program was fake and wrestling was real.
I clearly remember the night when Glenn Jacobs moved to the head of the class and became the most favorite student of all time at the University of Dutch.
We were in the Saturday night town, where we were taping for our TV show, and the house was sold out. It wasn’t a huge arena but there were close to 2,000 people jammed into a space which was only designed to hold 1,500. Broadway calls it SRO (standing room only). When I looked out at the crowd, I called it a crime scene waiting to happen.
I clearly remember going into the building that night telling Glenn that I didn’t feel right about the night’s card, which meant that the angle might be a little too hot. I’ve always felt tension in the air even when I was a young kid. I felt a lot of it in the air as I walked into the back of the ‘concha,’ which is what they call athletic courts or gyms in Puerto Rico.
When my match started, it was HOT!!! Not temperature wise—crowd wise. The angle was one of the hottest I had ever shot in Puerto Rico and as we neared the completion of the match, I could feel the crowd getting hotter and hotter. I’ve been in situations like that before so I wasn’t caught totally off guard, but I knew what was coming. I was going to end up fighting these assholes—again.
This wasn’t the first time I’d fought these pricks either. I knew who was to blame and it wasn’t the fans, it was me. Since I was the booker, I had engineered everything to lead them down this path and they went with me in the storyline. That night, it all came together as the house was completely over sold. Normally, that should be reason for congratulations. Tonight it might be a reason for an ass whupping. Mine. The fans wanted my arse beat because it was a believable angle and one that was ripe with violence. And a lot of blood.
I had anticipated a sell out and a lot of crowd response but not the level to where this thing was headed. I resigned myself to the fact that this could be one hairy situation before I could make the 90 feet jaunt from the ring to the sanctuary of the dressing room.
When it came time to leave, well, let’s just say the people didn’t want me to leave. Oh one more little tidbit that I forgot to mention. Did I mention that 80 percent of those bastards were drunker than Cooter Brown? I don’t know who Cooter Brown was but he had to be one alcoholic SOB to beat this crowd. Just for a good visual on this crowd, it was full with at least 1,000 of them drinking. Think the wildest Saturday night redneck beer joint you can imagine and multiply that by 50. Actually, I hated myself that night knowing that it was my own invention that had not only sold out the building but had put me in the precarious spot I was in now.
The promoter in Puerto Rico was a cheap bastard who hired the cheapest and laziest assholes on the island to pull security. Believe me, my daughter could have done a better job securing wrestlers than they could. That night after the match, as I started to leave the ring, I looked for my security and guess what? Did I mention they were a sorry bunch? Well, if I didn’t, they were. Those asshole security guards were AWOL. They were nowhere to be found. I surmise that they saw how ‘hot’ the crowd was and they just said ‘screw it’. Wherever they were, they damn sure weren’t around to help secure me. I was left with one little bitty security guard to help me negotiate my way to the dressing room.
As I saw the lone security guard outside the ring, I waited to see where the rest of them were. It hadn’t dawned on me yet that the other security guards weren’t coming, so I waited a few moments more to see if they would show. But the fans wouldn’t allow me to just stand around as they commenced the infamous ‘Puerto Rican Air Show,’ as I called it. Basically, that meant the fans starting filling up the ring with debris like bottles, rocks, ice cups, spark plugs, glass and whatever they found handy. Yes, I said spark plugs.
Long story made short…I made it a short distance from the ring but there were just too many fans to go through. As I tried to push through the crowd quickly, I was pushing and punching trying to open up just a semblance of a hole to squeeze through. No hole opened up. Somehow, I got tripped and went down, and that is the worst possible scenario in a situation like this.
As I was down, some asshole kicked me right in the face. It stunned me and it knocked me out temporarily. When I came back to, I was crawling on my hands and knees, and blood was all in my hands from the kick in the face. The lone security guard was still with me and he must have diverted the fans long enough for me to get to my feet. I was blinded in one eye by this point, and that’s not a good problem to have.
I could see the dressing room door and as I stumbled toward it, some guy grabbed my hair and as I spun around to get him off, three or four more guys surrounded me swinging and kicking. I nailed one guy and sent him reeling but they backed up and came again. In other words, I was getting the s**t kicked out of me.
Then out of nowhere, I saw Big Glenn out of the corner of my one good eye as he stepped in and grabbed me. He put himself between me and the mob of what seemed like an army and then shoved me into the dressing room. Unbeknownst to me but he also extracted the lone security guard, who was getting the crap stomped out of him by some other fans too. If Glenn hadn’t been there, it would have been a much worse scene than it was.
The police showed up…about 30 minutes later after they had their stop at Dunkin’ Donuts. Did I mention earlier that the people are always late in Puerto Rico? Well, their tardiness extends to their police department too. They wanted to take a statement…but I said ‘f’ a statement. I needed a doctor. Or a priest. I thought I was dying.
My eye was cut and bleeding and I needed stitches. My head was ringing and my ribs were hurting too. I spent the night in not one, but two hospital emergency rooms. Puerto Rican emergency rooms are wild too. The whole time I was there waiting to see a doctor, I was joined by victims of shootings, stabbings and assaults, car wrecks. Lots of families, wives and kids all crying and carrying on. Hell, I was crying and carrying on myself. But at least I had the one security guard and Glenn, who was still with me.
I ended up with 12 stitches over my eye and eight underneath the eye. I was fortunate that it wasn’t worse and had it not been for Glenn, it would have been. So now you see why Glenn Jacobs moved to the top of the class as the most favored student ever at the University of Dutch.
Glenn, if you’re reading this—thanks. If you’re not—learn to read.
Glenn stayed for almost a year. He learned through immersing himself in the game through constant teaching and attention to detail. Glenn progressed quickly as I watched him turn into to a talent that was ready to move up. By this time, I could see that Glenn had come down with the dreaded island fever. That’s a term to describe when the island’s relative smallness gets to an outsider. Americans working there have described it and I’ve been known to come down with it, too. Glenn was tired of Puerto Rico and to tell the truth, I was too. There’s only so many ass whuppings a guy can take from the fans.
Glenn left in December and went on a tour to Germany. Before he left, I wished him well and he did the same to me. I had stayed in regular contact with Jim Cornette and I had told him about this kid I had that would be a great talent if given the chance. Later on, Glenn got himself booked in Smoky Mountain, as the Unabomber, and did very well for himself.
About a year later, Glenn, with Cornette’s help, found his way to WWE as they debuted him as Isaac Yankem, which wasn’t a good fit for him. WWE also saddled him awhile with the fake Diesel character but that fizzled out almost from the start. But Vince McMahon wasn’t giving up on a guy with Glenn’s size and talent, so—as he’s done 1,000 times before—he repackaged him. He re-debuted Glenn as the brother of the Undertaker, Kane. Glenn’s evolution through the name factory had taken him from Doomsday to Unabomber to Isaac Yankem to Diesel and finally his last pit stop, Kane.
Now as Paul Harvey used to say, you know the rest of the story. But as true wrestling fans know, Kane did a lot of great stuff in the WWE including with his plastic brother, The Undertaker.
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