Kofi Kingston has always been told he’s not supposed to be in WWE. Just last week, WWE Champion Daniel Bryan and Vince McMahon himself called Kingston a “B+ player,” claiming the New Day member never deserved to be in the gauntlet match that launched his recent chase for Bryan’s title.
“You can call me whatever you want to call me, but you won’t deny me,” Kingston said during a recent conference call with international media. “When I’m in that ring, and I’m able to go toe-to-toe with other WWE superstars, I’m always going to make sure that I have the best match, the best outing.”
And Kingston did just that in February, competing for nearly an hour against Bryan himself, Samoa Joe, A.J. Styles, Randy Orton and Jeff Hardy. The multi-time WWE title holder was unexpectedly thrust into the WWE championship picture for Elimination Chamber (after Mustafa Ali suffered an injury) and was the final man left in the match, ultimately succumbing to Bryan.
As Ali’s replacement, Kingston said he wanted to make sure his performance in that match wouldn’t disappoint the former 205 Live competitor.
“He’s been wrestling on the independent scene for almost as long as I have, maybe even longer,” Kingston said, “So and then to get to WWE and then be on 205 Live, and have to fight your way there, and then have to fight your way into the title picture there, and then have to fight your way onto the main roster, onto Smackdown, to have it come to an abrupt halt — and I say halt because it’s not an end for him by any means — but to have it come to a halt at the expense of an injury is always unfortunate.”
However, Kingston said it is “exciting” to be in the position he’s currently in.
“Being able to go toe-to-toe with Vince McMahon on the mic, to me that’s a sign that you’ve made it, that you’re on the right path,” Kingston said. “Not many people get to do that, so for me, Woods and E to be in that ring with Vince, it’s awesome.”
He also noted that while WWE is entertainment, this particular story is rooted in truth.
“There’s a layer that is so real with what we do,” Kingston said, “like the struggle in us all getting onto television was a very real struggle that we all went through together.”
Kingston said all three New Day members are “reaping the benefits” of their work, but the fight isn’t over yet.
“Our support for each other, it’s very, very real — especially when it comes to the world title picture,” Kingston said. “Their support for me right now is awesome too, and I try not to get too ahead of myself because in this business you have no idea what’s going to happen tomorrow. I just try to take it one day at a time, but the support that I’ve gotten from the WWE universe and from these guys, it really is pretty emotional. And pretty awesome.”
As as of last night’s Smackdown! Live, it was Big E and Xavier Woods whose victory in a tag team gauntlet match secured Kingston’s place against Bryan at WrestleMania.
‘AN INTERESTING DYNAMIC’
As “KofiMania” intensifies with WrestleMania less than two weeks away, Kingston noted the similarities between his current swell of support and Daniel Bryan’s during the 2014 Yes! Movement. The irony, for Kingston, is that he would be going up against the former leader of the Yes! Movement (which has since died, according to the “New” Daniel Bryan).
“Now he’s trying to stifle the WWE universe when they’re supporting me,” Kingston said. “So it’s an interesting dynamic and an interesting storyline where it has a lot of different levels and layers.”
A lot of people, according to Kingston, get “overlooked” in the wrestling industry, in part, because there are only “so many spots” on the WWE roster. On his own journey, he said, he was never going to be the guy whose look got him noticed.
“I’ve been fighting that battle my entire life trying to get to WWE,” Kingston said. “I was always told that I wasn’t big enough, I wasn’t strong enough, and lo and behold, here I am — a multiple-time champion and, hopefully soon, we can say that I’ll be WWE champion.”
For the past 11 years, Kingston said, he has done everything in his power to show he is worthy of being a main event competitor.
“I feel like I have been a model citizen when it comes to representing the WWE to the fullest,” Kingston said. “Not to mention the performances that I’ve had in the ring over the years, being able to entertain… So I don’t know why it is that Vince McMahon keeps putting these obstacles in my way.”
However, he noted that the fact that McMahon feels the need to “interject definitely speaks volumes.”
“Apparently, we’ve gotten our name on his radar, which is a great thing, if you ask me,” Kingston said. “Because, like you said, to be able to go toe-to-toe with Vince McMahon on the mic is something that I never thought I would do as a kid.
“You set goals for yourself as a kid of wanting to be a WWE superstar. I feel like this is one that you don’t really see coming. And it kind of came out of nowhere. This whole angle, this whole situation, if Mustafa Ali doesn’t get hurt, I don’t know if I’m even on the card for WrestleMania.”
However, Kingston quickly squashed any talk of the New Day splitting up if he does secure the WWE championship.
“You see a lot of factions that break up because one person wants to be better than the rest or want to go off and branch off on their own. We’ve already all done that,” Kingston said. “We’ve all been on our own, and the whole reason we came together was to be stronger. And the besides that we also like each other very much.”
Without the New Day, Kingston said, he would not be in the position he’s at.
“Before Woods and E approached me about being in the New Day, I was at a point in my career where it was almost like being typecast, where I would be a guy who could go out and have a good match, and this is the guy who’ll go out and make the fans cheer and we’ll beat him. So being able to be with the New Day allowed me to be able to show a lot of elements of my personality.”
And though Kingston has been at the “center” of the story with Bryan, he said it really is about the trio.
“This was always the goal for one of us to be able to contend for the WWE title and here we are, mission accomplished, so it just doesn’t make sense to break up,” Kingston said.