When World Wrestling Entertainment uses its weekly television programming to promote a film, they go above and beyond. WWE is seldom shy about embracing the outlandish and campy when incorporating the themes of the film being teased into its ongoing storylines amongst its Superstars of the squared circle. In partnership with Netflix, WWE promoted Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s Netflix film Red Notice in late 2021 by sending the Superstars on a wild goose chase for Cleopatra’s golden egg. The chase was won by Theory, which is how he won his coveted role as Vince McMahon’s protege. Also in 2021, in another deal with Netflix, WWE promoted Dave Bautista’s Netflix film Army of the Dead with an infamous zombie lumberjack match featuring the Miz and Damien Priest at WrestleMania Backlash.
While these publicity stunts were met with incredulity by critics, there is no denying that such corporate partnerships keep WWE’s coffers healthy, allowing it to produce the lavish pro wrestling spectacles that secured and maintain its place in pop culture. It also satisfies WWE’s younger audiences, who might not mind zombies and treasure hunts juxtaposed with wrestling in the way that older, more discerning fans and industry critics do. However, none of these recent stunts are likely to live in quite as much infamy as WWE’s 2006 scheme to promote a horror film the company produced, See No Evil.
The Significance of May 19
See No Evil starred Glenn Jacobs, AKA Kane as a sadistic killer who specialized in removing his victim’s eyes. The film’s release date was May 19. To drill this date home into the minds of audiences, WWE began an angle around Kane and this date. At this point in 2006, Kane had moved away from his earlier, masked and scarred visage. He was unmasked and in a dominant tag team run alongside the Big Show. Two of WWE’s most beloved and effective mesomorphic performers in a tag team had the desired result: they chokeslammed their way through a swath of Superstars, and were a wildly popular pairing.
Things went south when Kane had a meltdown and kept repeating, “May 19th! It’s happening again!” in abject terror. Kane’s prolonged distress led to a falling out with the Big Show, and a match between the two ensued on Monday Night Raw. Big Show wrestled a more technical style than usual, trying more than anything to subdue Kane to talk some sense into him. It was to no avail, and Kane ended the bout by bashing him with a chair.
The Aftermath of May 19
After the release date of the film had come and gone, the saga of May 19 continued. Kane explained that it was the date that his whole family had been killed in a tragic fire as a child. Furthermore, an impostor Kane dressed in his iconic red costume and mask began to stalk and intimidate Kane. Kane revealed that he knew who the impostor was. He did not give Fake Kane’s name, but alluded that he was a childhood tormentor. In reality, it was Luke Gallows beneath Fake Kane’s mask. Fake Kane continued to mentally torment the real Kane during the build up to their ppv match at June 25, 2006’s Vengeance.
The Battle of the Kanes produced a match that was indifferently received by the crowd at Vengeance. The real Kane unmasked Gallows in a backstage brawl on the episode of Raw following Vengeance, thus ending the angle.
The Legacy of May 19
May gives those immersed in the particular brand of humor one finds on the internet a lot to look forward to. May the 4th is a play on the Star Wars refrain ‘May the force be with you.’ The first of May is heralded by the NSYNC hit “It’s Gonna Be Me”, a play on Justin Timberlake’s pronunciation of ‘me’ sounding like ‘May.’ Pro wrestling’s contribution to this month of memes is May 19. The date has spawned a lot of inside jokes amongst wrestling fans. Although Glenn Jacobs seems pretty preoccupied as the mayor of Knox County, Tennessee (also the hometown of Raw women’s champion Bianca Belair), pro wrestling fans are still wary of saying May 19, lest the ‘Big Red Machine’ show up and vent his fury.
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