Kofi Kingston's journey to the WWE Championship was one that may not have been possible without Daniel Bryan.
No, Kingston didn't mean that his WWE title win was because he beat Bryan at this year's WrestleMania, but more so for what Bryan has done for undersized wrestlers, especially in WWE. Gone is the era of the WWE roster pretty much solely consisting of massively size wrestlers and Kingston told Sports Illustrated that Bryan is to thank for proving smaller wrestlers can succeed at the top of the industry.
“Bryan is the unsung hero,” Kingston said. “And he’s done a lot for guys who are undersized but showed they can still be cast in this top guy spot. He’s done it so well for a very, very long time.”
It's poetic justice in a sense that Kingston would go on to win the WWE title by pinning Bryan mainly due to the similar nature in both wrestlers' journey to the top. Like Kingston this year, Bryan arrived at WrestleMania in 2014 as someone who was not given much of a chance to become WWE Champion before winning it all. Kingston also acknowledged the similarities between the two.
"And Bryan went through that identical journey I did to get to WrestleMania. He was badgered and blocked by The Authority and called a B-plus player, that was his story, and it became mine, too. We don’t get a lot of shine in main events, we’re not 6'8" and 300 pounds, so the fact that he was my opponent was poetic. I have a whole lot of respect for Bryan and the boundaries he’s been able to break," Kingston said.
Kingston winning the title was one of the biggest highlights of this year's show and when the referee counted the pin, he said he was in "complete disbelief" that he became WWE Champion, more than 10 years after debuting on WWE television.
“I was in complete disbelief when the ref’s hand hit the mat for the third time. So many things have to line up for that moment to happen. If I don’t meet Big E and Xavier, then I never get to this point. So I was hit with all of those thoughts. When I got to the back, Vince was smiling. Tyler Breeze was there waiting for me, The Usos were there, there were so many people there waiting for me," Kingston said.
Now Kingston is set to defend his WWE title against Randy Orton at SummerSlam on August 11 at the Scotiabank Arena. Fightful will have live coverage of SummerSlam. The full interview can be read at this link.