Glenn Jacobs on Writing 'Mayor Kane' and Transitioning From WWE to Politics
Glenn Jacobs has played everything from a demented dentist to the devil’s favorite demon. In 2018, the WWE superstar known to fans as Kane went from navigating the shark-infested waters of pro wrestling to the political ring, becoming mayor of Knox County, Tenn. The unexpected career turn is part of a memorable journey for the 52-year-old told in his new book Mayor Kane: My Life in Wrestling and Politics, which is available starting Tuesday, Nov. 26.
“It came full circle,” Jacobs said of going from wrestler to elected official. “If you told me in 1995 that I’d be in an office overlooking the Knoxville Civic Coliseum, I’d look at you like you were nuts...I hope the book is an entertaining read for people because you have the crossover between my wrestling career and the political stuff. I was around and very much part of the ‘Attitude Era,’ so a lot of what people talk about I saw up close and part of it. That part is a great story I can tell.”
The author admits to not being nostalgic or sentimental. Jacobs doesn’t take many photos or keep a diary from his 30 years of travels around the world. Thankfully, he does have a good memory.
“Part of my process was going, ‘I think this will be a good story.’ Also, I remember telling someone a story, and I don’t think it’s a really big deal. Then they think it’s really entertaining. So it’s about putting all that stuff together,” Jacobs said. “I’d call people and basically go, ‘Hey, who was here? Where were we exactly?’ I can remember the big picture stuff, but I sometimes didn’t know the details. Then there are certain things that stick out in your mind that you know everything about it. When people mention an event, I can say that was such and such show at such and such arena. I did have to go through what I wanted to say.
“In some cases I’d have to go back and talk to some people who were there to jog my memory. Then there was the case I was talking to a friend of mind asking why I didn’t put a certain thing in the book. I said, ‘Well if I did,it would be a thousand pages. It was about what goes with the flow of the story of what is really important and doing it in a way that is entertaining and concise as possible. There is a lot of stuff I didn’t put in it that I wish I could. Maybe that will be used for another time.”
Representing the political and WWE worlds, Jacobs enlisted The Undertaker and Senator Rand Paul to write forwards to the book. He was honored to have them accept, especially his onscreen brother who he shares so much history with.
“I can pretty much guarantee that this will be the only time in history The Undertaker and Rand Paul write a forward for the same book,” Jacobs said. “I asked Mark [Calaway] (Undertaker) to do it, and he said he would be honored as well. It blew my mind. Of course, asking Senator Paul was much of the same. Mark has meant so much to my career and to me personally. That was not even a question that I would ask him to do it.”
Ultimately, it’s the final couple of chapters Jacobs hopes resonate. Ones that can spark thoughts, conversation and some inspiration.
“It’s not designed to be a motivational book, but I’ve been incredibly fortunate and blessed. I’m not especially unique. I might have a different skill set than most folks do. The fact that someone like me can have the opportunities I’ve had in my life. If I can do it, anyone can do it,” Jacobs said.
“To me, the American Dream is creating the life that you want to live. That’s what I’m most proud of. I want someone who reads it to see applicability in their own life and in their own way know they achieve what they want to achieve.”
A part of the book sure to get chatter focuses on President Donald Trump. Jacobs felt it was necessary to include the polarizing and often controversial figure for a number of reasons. And not necessarily for the WWE Hall of Famer himself.
“Unfortunately, politics are so divisive and polarized in our country. Nevertheless that is the field I’m in and have to offer an opinion on that,” he said. “The most important thing to me about Trump is the fact that he was not an establishment person. I think whether you love Trump or hate Trump, we need a lot more people who are not politicians in politics.
“I hope that is the thing people take from that chapter is the fact career politicians are ruining America and have ruined America. We need a lot more people that don’t come from that background. That don’t want to get in office and stay in office their whole life. They want to get in, do a good job and go home. I do realize with the divisiveness that we see now, some people are going to read that chapter and say, ‘I disagree.’ That’s the risk you take.”
Jacobs stresses not discounting local politics. Whether republican, democrat or independent, he believes all need to collaborate on solutions because people are expecting results.
“We see the folks on TV, and I’m just like everyone else. I’m tired and disillusioned at the dysfunction of Washington D.C. And it’s not one faction or party that has caused that. We can do a lot of things at a local level,” Jacobs said.
“That’s the beauty of state and local politics is that kind of political component, even though it is politics, that blatant divisiveness because of the political component is not nearly as overwhelming as national politics.”
Jacobs follows in a line of pro wrestlers who have gone into public office. Names like Jesse Ventura, B. Brian Blair and Matt Morgan. When it comes to who the mayor thinks would do well next in politics, he doesn’t want to venture a guess. Though for Jacobs there are a lot of smart folks in the locker room who, Jacobs feels has good characteristics for it.
“They do great things for the community,” he said. “Titus O’Neil in Tampa is doing wonderful things. Mark Henry does a lot of good stuff. John Cena, we know the work he has done with Make-A-Wish and other things. He can do whatever he wants because he is so talented and a good guy. I think there are a lot of people in the locker room that if they decided this was what they wanted to do, they’d be successful at it.”
Jacobs may not be on Raw or SmackDown each week, he hasn’t ruled out “Big Red Machine” appearances from time to time. However, if the former WWE world champion decided to walk out for a match one final time, he wouldn’t want to do it alone.
“Even though Undertaker and I had a match with DX that has never happened before, it would be great to reunite the Brothers of Destruction,” he said. “That is always so special. That would be for me the ultimate thing.”
Jacobs documents the evolution of Kane in the book. A character which made him a top performer in WWE and evolved in many ways since his debut in 1997. Since then, these types of personas have become few and far between. Though Jacobs considers himself a fan just like he when he was searching to realize his own dream.
“It has become harder because there is so much more content and exposure demanded. We look at the internet and social media and all the different platforms we are competing against. One of the things that frustrated me is that we move so quickly sometimes it felt like you weren’t getting the depth of the storyline because you just had to put stuff out and things would get lost. That’s the nature of the business,” Jacobs said.
“...You look at a guy like Bray Wyatt who has done a phenomenal job. That character has really taken off. It’s difficult. I think it’s harder than ever to get into that kind of patient story-telling. It’s unfortunate evolution of the business. But I think what Bray Wyatt shows is that we have a performer who can do it and given the opportunity, it’s still something that strikes a cord with people.
"To me, that’s one of the best parts of the wrestling business is the stories. Sometimes they get sacrificed a little bit to keep the machine going. So it’s nice to see a guy like Bray have that opportunity to really get over as a character in a unique storyline.”
Mayor Kane: My Life in Wrestling and Politics is available Tuesday, November 26