But that's fucking wrong, he was one of the main characters. Him, odd job fucker, Johnny, Scorpion and sub zero were the main guys with Raiden as master splinter, and sonya occasionally.
In the animated series, in the movies, and in the games, he was their Ryu. Scorpion and sub were always the most popular, along with the other ninjas right behind the main guys, but the ninja wankery didn't come to a head till after Tobias left.
That being said, Kang wasn't as popular as them in game, but his movie headlinging and center stage in the animated series made him more popular than most.
Sub zero and Scorpion wankery started around when Sub Zero's little brother took over, and his older brother got the legend of sub zero game , which was a huge deal at the time. They were also the most marketable, every kid in the 90s was scorpion or sub zero then, or Ermac if you could find the budget fake ninja costumes.