Kofi Kingston discusses injecting race in his WrestleMania storyline.
Kofi Kingston earned his WrestleMania title shot on the Mar. 19 episode of SmackDown after running a gauntlet that included The Bar, Rowan, Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton. So he thought. Instead, Vince McMahon introduced Daniel Bryan into the match as the final boss. With nothing left to give, Kingston was defeated by Bryan and denied the opportunity to go to WrestleMania for the time being.
The next day, Big E posted a promo to social media where he came to grips with the fact that "people like us" would never be elevated past a certain spot. Many fans theorized that race was the reason McMahon kept holding Kofi back, but Big E outright said it. The use of race in the story took the rivalry between Kofi and Bryan & McMahon from a near knock-off of Bryan's WrestleMania 30 storyline and gave it some realism and social commentary.
Speaking to Yahoo Sports, Kofi discussed the use of race in the story.
“We always say that it’s very important to have representation,” Kingston said. “As a child, one that would be watching the WWE product, I think it’s very important for children to look at the screen and see somebody that looks like them doing incredible things. I am so proud to be a beacon of light for people who look like me. They can look to TV -- regardless of race -- as a human and that it is possible to overcome impossible odds. I take a lot of pride in being the center of all of that and being the representative for all of that. Being able to identify with so many people, I think that’s the reason why this movement has been so powerful. It’s more than just race, or one particular thing. It’s so many different things, so many elements of hope that we’re able to provide.”
On the Mar. 26 episode of SmackDown, Big E & Xavier Woods ran a gauntlet of their own and by virtue of their victory, put Kofi into the WrestleMania title match.
Kingston continued, discussing the role of Big E & Xavier in the story.
"What we do is entertainment, but there’s an element that is very real about this whole scenario. I find myself getting choked up about the love and support that I’ve had. It’s awesome. It’s such a great feeling, such an amazing feeling. I always think that the best storylines on television always have a bit of reality intertwined, and there’s a lot of what is real in this. I feel like it’s not just about me. I may be at the center of it, but the New Day, our goal has always been to elevate one another,” Kingston said. “We always are trying to figure out ways where we can make each other look good, make each other more successful. This whole scenario, it speaks volumes for what the New Day has always been and it epitomizes what we’ve been at our core.”
While it's debatable if Kingston would be the first black WWE Champion should he win on Sunday, the historical significance of his win would not be debated. Booker T and Mark Henry have won World Titles and The Rock, a multi-time WWE Champion, is half-black, but Kingston's win would end all caveats.
For the latest information on WrestleMania 35, head over to Fightful's events page.