As the dust settles on another WWE pay-per-view we are left to reflect on a very mediocre show with a couple of standout moments. Firstly was Becky Lynch proving why she is one of the WWE’s hottest commodities at the moment. But the focus of this story is the rise to prominence of Kofi Kingston.
Kingston is a household name in the WWE. The grappler burst onto the scenes nearly 12 years ago. Despite a strong early push, he has never really amounted to more than a mid-carder. Five years ago he became part of the New Day. The faction has gone on to be one of the most enduringly popular tag combinations in the companies history but it seemed that would forever be his lot.
Due to the nature of the New Day, their fun-loving antics and their focus on tag wrestling Kofi’s talent is often lost in the shuffle. Due to his size and strength, Big E is often considered the member of the team with the most potential as a singles star. But actually, Kofi is highly decorated. He has 3 US title reigns and 4 Intercontinental title reigns as well as a wealth of tag team accolades.
Taking his chance
Last Thursday on smackdown Kofi put on the performance of his life. He was given a spot in the gauntlet match to decide the last entrant in the elimination chamber match for Daniel Bryan’s Word title. He took the place of Mustafa Ali who was injured just days before, it has been well-reported that Ali was due to receive a similar push but Kofi took his chance with aplomb.
The difference between Ali and Kofi is that Kofi has more than paid his dues. He isn’t somebody who is popular because WWE wants him to be popular. His popularity is born out of the fact he has been a workhorse. Putting on solid matches for more than a decade. He is entertaining and likeable. So it literally took just one match to make him look like a real contender and somebody the fans could get behind.
For the first time in a long while, Kofi managed to do something often amiss in WWE’s current product. He created an emotional connection. Through his interactions with AJ in the gauntlet match, which really sold the fact that here is a guy who isn’t going to quit. To his interactions with his New Day compatriots after both the gauntlet match and the Elimination Chamber match. Kofi received one of the biggest and most enduring pops in recent history and that’s because he made the fans care. Once again Corey Graves was on the money with his commentary when he simply observed: “The air has been completely sucked out of the Toyota Center”. As the raucous crowd fell deadly silent after Bryan’s victory.
It would have been amazing for Kofi to have won the title, especially during black history month. For a company worryingly lacking in black champions in its history it would have been a significant and timely statement, but from a business point of view, the victory was almost irrelevant. It’s what they do with Kofi’s momentum that matters. Anything less than a one on one title match will seem like a waste.
Victim of his own success
The problem is that the WWE does not like to cash-in on red hot stars. Look at what happened to Braun Strowman when he was on fire, he was buried in favour of Roman Reigns. When Ziggler looked like he was a world beater they punished him so far down the pecking order his career almost died. (Albeit after a title run). Triple H has stated he doesn’t want to build huge stars anymore and in Kofi that might be what they have. Let’s cross our fingers for Kofi. As the Texas fans said to Bayley and Banks, “he deserves it”.