Every once in a while, professional wrestling can fill even a cynic with joy. As of late, one particular angle has reminded the world of that feeling, with Kofi Kingston’s unexpected ascension captivating the wrestling world. For the longest time, Kingston’s cohorts have publicly nominated him for these feats, intending to at long last, finally capture him a WWE Title. In truth, the gesture was always touching but its likelihood remained questionable to say the least. Incredibly though, we are now potentially just days away from that very moment, as Kingston enters WrestleMania for quite simply, the biggest match of his life.
Kingston’s story is an incredible one, entrenched in an almost unparalleled degree of loyalty and consistency. The heights of WWE’s history are decorated by super stardom but Kofi’s longevity stands out opposite anyone, a rare career trait that only strengthens a star’s legacy with each passing year. Kingston is no different, earning a quite special degree of fan admiration and respect while performing at an elite level regardless of the circumstances. It’s that element that’s allowed this recent rise to succeed, a magic ingredient that’s rooted in the memory of Kofi’s journey to this point.
WWE fans first met Kingston in December 2007, initially sporting a Jamaican accent in the midst of now infamous vignettes. Kofi eventually emerged on the ECW brand, soon entering a programme with veteran Shelton Benjamin and then quickly heading to RAW. He arrived in grand fashion too, almost immediately capturing the prestigious Intercontinental Title from Chris Jericho. That accomplishment soon proved a constant for Kingston and so would his next feat as well, winning tag team gold alongside CM Punk, his first of many eventual partners.
Those two moments would encapsulate much of Kingston’s initial fate, a trusty young talent that could shine without ever needing too much spotlight. His second tier title reigns in many ways defined that period for Kingston, a terrific in-ring performer that regularly thrived in outings that didn’t always receive the promotion of their peers. Kofi had a particularly impressive series of matches opposite Dolph Ziggler, battling his fitting foe for both Intercontinental crown as well as United States Title. Though the surrounding factors often altered, the result remained unchanged, thrilling encounters that consistently captured the audience’s attention.
If without a singles belt around his waist, Kingston became a regular within WWE’s tag team division, providing one half of a babyface tandem whenever necessary. As well as the established Punk pairing, Kofi also won the titles with Evan Bourne and R-Truth, making the most of a division that then more than ever, suffered from a distinct lack of exposure. Within that spell, Kingston did briefly flirt with super-stardom, rivaling Randy Orton in a programme that’s folklore has maintained its relevancy a full decade later.
Regardless of the reasoning though, Kingston’s ceiling seemed re-adjusted soon after, with many of Kofi’s aforementioned achievements taking place while fans pondered what could’ve been. All good things must come to an end though and by 2014, Kingston’s WWE stint had seemingly began to slow. While his performance remained admirable, Kofi’s established residence as the promotion’s go to undercard babyface had steadily diminished. Fans understood Kingston’s position too well at that point, struggling to believe that he’d ever reach heights above those that he’d already conquered.
However, talk of Kingston’s demise was greatly exaggerated as out of nowhere, his career would soon take an unprecedented turn. Entering an initially promising direction alongside Big E and Xavier Woods, Kingston’s future only briefly looked bright, with the trio appearing as gospel-inspired preachers of positivity rather than taking the more daring approach that some had expected. Fans rejected the direction but the rest is history, with New Day embracing boos so brilliantly that they soon became emphatic cheers. Since then, the group has gone from strength to strength, solidifying their legacy as one of this generation’s greatest acts.
New Day have become undeniable, an already legendary team that’s produced some of the finest WWE TV in recent years. Before this, Kingston spent six years producing a body of work on WWE’s main roster, establishing a hall of fame resume along the way. Even still, this P.O.P portion felt pivotal and rapidly became the defining element of his respected career. In WWE, tag team success has historically been shrouded in apparent limitations but New Day often transcended those borders, rapidly becoming an act capable of reaching far beyond their varied card placement.
With all that being said, hopes for a singles title run still seemed optimistic, especially in Kingston’s case. While still in his physical peak, Kofi was obviously the trio’s oldest member and in some ways, he felt almost limited by his longevity too. There’s a common belief that at some juncture, every wrestler’s window passes and the more that someone is presented one way, the less chance there is for them to be spotlighted in another. On paper, Kingston appeared to be a perfect case of exactly that but in an instant, that perception would soon shift.
Replacing Ali just days before Elimination Chamber, Kingston initially seemed set for yet another brief foray into a multi-man main event. Fans had seen this before, Kofi always thrives in these positions but he seldom wins, quickly returning to his prior placement at its conclusion. This occasion almost immediately felt different though, with a gauntlet match highlighting the sheer brilliance of Kingston’s current performance. Kofi lasted over an hour and in one solitary showing, he’d inexplicably convinced fans to believe again.
That sudden trend culminated at the PPV itself, as Kingston made it to the final two before falling short after a staggering closing stretch. Kingston left the ring an undeniable hero that night though, finally receiving the adoration and acclaim that his body of work frankly demanded. With the road to WrestleMania firmly underway, it wasn’t surprising to see Kingston leaving Elimination Chamber without the gold. After all, he was a late addition to this match and never a likely winner anyway but nonetheless, the audience’s reaction felt like a moment within itself.
Kingston had just produced his greatest performance yet and regardless of result or direction, fans responded to that with the utmost respect. This time, things wouldn’t just revert to their prior state either and instead, Kingston’s fate suddenly seemed clear. The route wouldn’t be smooth but at some point, we all reached the same conclusion: Kofi Kingston was headed to WrestleMania and more than that, he may be the event’s greatest hero too. Matched with the simply brilliant Daniel Bryan, Kingston has become rival to the status quo, speaking his mind opposite Vince McMahon in a segment that would’ve once seemed unfathomable.
Proudly stating his case, Kingston cited his commitment throughout the years and demanded an opportunity. The exchange resonated in grand fashion, with Kingston silencing any doubts surrounding his main event capabilities. Kofi had every tool necessary and he’d built a connection with the audience as well, a perfect storm that reaches its crescendo at WrestleMania. In fear of being hyperbolic, it feels undeniable that at MetLife stadium, Kingston’s story reaches its defining moment, the match that’ll encapsulate a whole career within its gripping action.
Everyone is rooting for Kofi to complete his fairy-tale journey and rightly so but in truth, his presence here is something to celebrate in itself. After supposedly reaching his apparent ceiling a decade ago, Kingston now reaches one of the industry’s finest heights: challenging for the WWE Title at WrestleMania. It couldn’t be more well-deserved either, a rare opportunity for wrestling fans to simply smile as one of the generation’s greatest contributors receives the rewards that he earned long ago. The road here hasn’t been short but that only makes the destination sweeter.
This Sunday, the audience unites, hoping to witness the final chapter of one WWE’s most captivating tales, but more than that, the coronation of a champion that through hard work and persistence, has earned our unwavering appreciation. It’s easy to become enrapt in this match’s result but the beauty belongs in the journey, a pro wrestling story that hopefully, we’ll reminisce about for many decades to come.