Ahead of tonight’s AEW Dynamite anniversary episode, Eddie Kingston talked about his promo process, why he stays humble, For The Culture, and much more.
Tonight, AEW Dynamite celebrates the one-year anniversary of their premiere on TNT. Just two days ago, Eddie Kingston celebrated the 19-year anniversary of his professional wrestling debut.
Throughout his nearly two decades in the wrestling industry, Eddie Kingston has taken a winding path through Chikara, CZW, PWG, Ring of Honor, Impact Wrestling, and even the NWA in 2019 before finally landing in AEW. On July 16, 2020, Eddie Kingston made his first appearance on AEW Dynamite by answering Cody’s TNT Championship Open Challenge.
In a few short minutes, Kingston delivered a powerful promo calling back to the obstacles he’s had to overcome in life and the grind that brought him to that moment. After just over 11 minutes of No Disqualification chaos, Cody Rhodes had prevailed and Eddie Kingston had failed to capture the TNT Championship.
It easily could’ve been the last that AEW saw of Eddie Kingston, but fans rallied behind the veteran by getting #SignEddieKingston trending on Twitter. Between his resume and the vocal fan support, AEW got the message and officially signed Eddie Kingston to a contract.
Just a few days ago, I had the opportunity to speak to “The Mad King” Eddie Kingston. When I asked if the contract validated the work he’d put in up to this point, Kingston pushed back but was clear about how it felt to get the offer.
“I wouldn’t say it validated it, because I believe my work is not over yet. It definitely felt good to get the phone call, of course. Especially during these times of the pandemic and everything. I wouldn’t say it validated. It felt good,” Kingston said.
As for the vocal fan movement and #SignEddieKingston that helped push AEW to sign him to a contract, Kingston admitted he didn’t fully understand it at first. However, he was candid about how it ultimately impacted him.
“That was very humbling and surprising. I didn’t think that many fans cared, to be honest. It blew me away,” he said. “I said this in other interviews too. I’m getting hit up and they’re telling me, ‘oh, you’re trending,’ and they think this is a joke, but I really didn’t know. I go, ‘oh, so I’m trending, does that mean I get extra money? Do they send me a check? Does Twitter send me a check for trending?’ I don’t know. I don’t get that kind of stuff. You could call me a boomer, I guess. I don’t know even what that is, but to me I didn’t know.”
“God, was it humbling. To the point where, I think it was two weeks after everything and I finally officially signed, I was in Montana with my girlfriend taking a vacation and I just broke down crying. She was like ‘are you okay?’ And I was like ‘yeah, I’m fine, it just kinda hit me now that, okay, people do care, and now I have a contract.’ It just hit me that I’m on national television and I finally have a contract with a big company,” Kingston said. “And I just remember wiping the tears away and looking at her and just going ‘I love you, but now the real work begins.’ And she’s a BJJ black belt, so she was just like ‘yep, let’s get to work.’ And I was just like ‘oh, I guess I do have to get to work.’ So that was it.”
Eddie Kingston discusses his promo process
While Eddie Kingston brings the fight just as much when he’s inside the squared circle, it’s often his promo work that catches people’s attention. That hasn’t seemed dampened or weakened at all since arriving in AEW, so I asked Kingston how much creative freedom he’s been given since arriving.
“I really don’t have any creative freedom when it comes to what they want me to do, because I’m a very simple person. This is my job. I’m not gonna fight anything. This is my job,” he said. “You tell me what to do, I’m gonna do it. When they ask me ‘hey, Eddie, is this okay if you do this, this, and this?’ I tell them, ‘yeah, of course it’s okay.’ Because a month or two ago, I was selling my gear and thinking maybe I have to sell my house and move back to New York. So I don’t question anything, I just go with it.”
“When it comes to promos, they let me have the creative freedom to get to the point that we’re trying to get to. They tell me ‘here are the bullet points, you just get there,’ and I’m like ‘oh, okay, cool.’ Also I can’t curse or anything on TNT, and they trust me with that,” Kingston said.
During his appearance on the AEW Unrestricted podcast, Eddie Kingston had mentioned that at times he’d pull inspiration from song lyrics. I took a moment to ask him who some of the musical artists were that inspire him and influence his promo work.
“Tupac, for sure. Tupac’s probably my favorite artist. I won’t even say rapper, I’ll just say artist. AFI’s another group that their lyrics, like I’ll hear their lyrics and I’ll go—lately it’s been like, I don’t know if they call it folk music or country, but it’s like Murder By Death, Builders and Butchers, and The Devil Makes Three are bands that I’m really listening to and also inspiring me with their lyrics that I go ‘oh, that’s good,’ and I’ll build off it,” he said. “Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes is another one. You go into hip hop, it’s like Mobb Deep, Lloyd Banks, Ice Cube, Scarface, DMX of course. So yeah, there’s a lot of influence, but those are the people off the top of my head I like to go to.”
As well as taking inspiration from music, Eddie Kingston isn’t unlike many successful wrestlers and pulls from a real place within himself. At times, that can mean pulling from a darker side, and I asked him about the difficulty of coming back out of that dark place after tapping into it.
“Oh yeah, it definitely does. When it gets real dark, I gotta walk away and be away from everybody for at least a good five minutes and just breathe and get myself outta that mental zone that I put myself in. Also, pulling from a real place, a lot of times I gotta curb myself. I gotta censor myself, because if I get too real then it takes away from what I’m trying to say,” he said.
“Then people are just going to pay attention to the act, or they’re gonna be like ‘wait, what happened, who did that to Eddie?’ And they’re not gonna be concerned with what I’m trying to say and why I brung it up,” Kingston said. “So yeah, there’s moments where I have to curb myself and sit back and go ‘nope, that’s a little bit too real.’ Or, if I get to that real point, I just go ‘hey, give me like three to five minutes alone. Let me breathe. I’ll be right back.’ It’s a process, I guess you could say.”
It was a process artists of any medium, whether professional wrestling or elsewhere, are familiar with. As I pointed out to him when we spoke, tapping into something within ourselves can allow artists to connect with others through our art.
“That’s all I wanna do is connect. I wanna connect with the people with my promos. I wanna connect with the people in the ring. I wanna emotionally take the people on a ride with whatever I do. Whether I’m making ‘em laugh, whether I’m making ‘em mad, whether I’m making ‘em sad, happy, whatever. It don’t matter. Just come with me. Let your emotions free with me, because that’s what I’m trying to do,” Kingston said.
Eddie Kingston talks about the upbringing that keeps him humble
Despite his success and the praise of fans, Eddie Kingston remains humble about his skill and has spoken before about always striving to be better. When we spoke, I asked him where that humility and desire to constantly improve comes from.
“Definitely the drive to be better, and also the way I was raised. I was raised as an Irish Puerto Rican Catholic from the Bronx. As they would tell me, we always have to be humble and we have to be hungry,” he said. “I was always taught that being mixed during that time period I was born and raised in, like being a mixed kid now is easier, but when I was growing up being mixed wasn’t an easy thing. I was always made fun of for being mixed race, I guess you could say.”
“Or, like I say, I’m a mutt. I wear it as a badge of honor now, but I also wear it as ‘okay, I’m always the underdog.’ No matter what it is,” Kingston said. “I could be World Champion, which is always the goal, but I will still feel like I’m the underdog because I’m like ‘well, I gotta do more.’”
“To me, my goal in pro wrestling and my goal in AEW is to be the World Champion, but also to draw money for the company. I’ll get a little personal with you. I told Santana and Ortiz this. I call ‘em the boys. Me and the boys were together and I told them ‘look, where we come from, we’re not supposed to be on national television.’ They had a harder upbringing than me, but where we come from we’re not supposed to be main eventing TNT or Dynamite,” he said.
“So, to me we did that goal. Why can’t we make, as they say, Attitude money or have casual fans come in and do that? That’s the goal. The goal is to be the champion, but also pack places out when we can have fans in, or get a million, two million people watching the show,” Kingston said. “So, I don’t see any reason why we can’t. Especially now we’ve already reached a mini goal, a mini achievement by making it to Dynamite and then making it to the main event. Now there’s more. There’s more to go.”
Eddie Kingston continues to uplift independent wrestling
As Eddie Kingston continues to adjust to his new home, he hasn’t forgotten his roots on the independent scene. While Kingston has said before he’s not the most tech-savvy person, fans who follow him on Twitter will notice he’s frequently shouting out independent wrestlers to his over 38,000 followers.
“To be honest with you, when it comes to that stuff, I’ve always done that. It’s just who I am. It’s not like ‘oh, I’m on this platform, let me put over this indie guy, ‘or whatever I feel. It’s not because I have the platform,” he said. “It’s just the way I’ve always been, and if I think something’s right, I’m gonna say something. If something’s wrong, you’re not gonna hear me say anything, because I’m not tryin’ to get fired and start cursin’ up a storm and stuff. I’m still me, so there’s a thing I gotta curb.”
“When it comes to the independent guys, I just wanna show them love, because I didn’t get that much love when I was on the independents. And I want wrestling to thrive, because when wrestling’s thriving, every company’s making money. That’s what I don’t think people fully get or understand. When one place is making money, everybody’s making money,” Kingston said.
One of the most talked-about parts of the independent scene came around this past weekend as GCW presented The Collective, a series of shows originally scheduled to take place in Tampa during the week leading into WrestleMania 36. Unfortunately, the global pandemic changed those plans, and it was only now with a new location in Indiana and socially distanced fans at a limited capacity that the showcase was able to return.
It was a great weekend for independent wrestling, but carried a special importance as two shows, For The Culture and EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch, looked to spotlight talent that are often marginalized in the industry. When I spoke to Eddie Kingston, I asked him how important he felt those shows were for those talents that haven’t been given opportunities just because of who they are.
“Oh it gives them, without a shadow of a doubt, a platform. Now that’s a platform and it shows everyone that we’re together. That in pro wrestling, it doesn’t matter if you’re Black, white, straight, gay, whatever you are. There’s a place for you in pro wrestling, and I think having those two shows just proves to you there is a place for you,” he said.
“No matter who you are, if you love professional wrestling, if you love performing, it doesn’t matter what your business is. Just go out there and do it, and there’s places for you now,” Kingston said. “Honestly, I think it’s an incredible thing, and in my opinion it’s a historical type of thing and historical type of move for those two shows to take place. That’s all anybody really wants in life is a chance. Now when you get that chance, that’s on you now to show and prove or to perform.”
Eddie Kingston on sharing the ring with familiar faces and learning from legends
Since signing with AEW, Eddie Kingston has had the opportunity to share a locker room and a ring with some of the same faces he saw during his years on the independent scene. Having recently allied with The Butcher, The Blade, and The Lucha Brothers, I asked him what it was like to now be with them on a national stage.
“It’s amazing, and it’s a little bit surreal as well. Being on the road with The Butcher and The Blade and The Lucha Brothers for so many years, and seeing them ridiculous amounts of times on the independents and sharing a locker room with them, it’s surreal just being in the ring with them and to be on TNT on national television,” he said. “There’s certain points where I’ve gotta pinch myself to make sure this is real, because it’s definitely a different experience.”
Another man Eddie Kingston has seen since arriving in AEW is AEW World Champion Jon Moxley. While Moxley spent several years signed to WWE as Dean Ambrose before leaving last year and joining AEW, Kingston talked about how working with him now felt no different than it had all those years ago.
“It’s been the same. I worked with Moxley years ago on the independents, and it’s the same. Same attitude. Same go after it and get it. Same trying to be the best professional wrestler out there,” Kingston said. “He motivates me, because he is the bar. To see him not change lets me know that my path is the right path by not changing myself, by being myself.”
Getting to see familiar faces has no doubt helped, but Eddie Kingston has also taken time to speak to the many legends and veterans that work behind the scenes in AEW. When we spoke, I asked him who he’d taken the time to talk to and seek out for advice or guidance.
“Taz has definitely been a big help. Excalibur, because I’ve known him for years, and he’s also on commentary so he sees things that I can’t see when I’m in the ring. Of course Jim Ross, for all the years he was talent relations during the Attitude Era. That’s all I have to say is the Attitude Era,” he said. “Of course Arn Anderson. I haven’t been able to get to Tully yet and ask him for advice. I think he’s hiding from me. To be honest with you, I think I’m probably getting annoying to some of the veteran guys. Dustin too. Dean Malenko. You have so much knowledge there that to me it’s a waste of time, selfishly, if I don’t go to them and ask them ‘hey, what’d you think?’”
Fans of Eddie Kingston or followers of his on Twitter have no doubt seen the affinity he has for All Japan Pro Wrestling, but fellow AEW stars like Jon Moxley have had the opportunity to work for New Japan Pro Wrestling while being signed to AEW. With rumors of a potential partnership between the two promotions always swirling, I asked Kingston if there was anyone in NJPW he hoped to get to share the ring with, which he answered after emphasizing his love of AJPW.
“I’m definitely an All Japan guy, so my dream match for me on a personal level, if it ever happens it’d be great, it’d be me and Jun Akiyama,” he said. “When you look at New Japan Professional Wrestling, to me the only guy that I really personally would say is a dream for me would be Tanahashi. Because, to me, Tanahashi is the “Stone Cold” Steve Austin of that company. He saved that company just like “Stone Cold” saved the other company during that time period.”
“Of course there’s Tanahashi, Nagata, Suzuki, and with any company you always wanna wrestle their champion. Of course I would love to wrestle for the IWGP Championship, because my heroes like Masahiro Chono, Keiji Mutoh, Shinji Hashimoto, the Three Musketeers, have worn that title or have been champions before,” Kingston said.
“At this point in my career, and during the pandemic, the opportunity to wrestle anybody I take as a blessing and I wanna do,” he said. “So, of course if I can get the dream matches and get Akiyama or get someone from New Japan, it would be surreal for me even then because I would’ve never thought it would happen. So I would be happy with anybody, but if you’re puttin’ a gun to my head, it’s definitely Tanahashi’s the guy.”
Eddie Kingston: ‘AEW’s my last stop. I’m not goin’ anywhere else.’
At 38 years old with over half of his life spent in the physically demanding world of professional wrestling, Eddie Kingston also pulls from a new inspiration today than he has in the past. In January of 2019, he announced that would be his last year in professional wrestling and fully intended to retire when he made the announcement.
In interviews he’s done since then, Kingston has opened up and explained that it’s actually his desire to be an example to his niece and nephew that keep him going. I asked Kingston how it feels not being on this national stage knowing they’ll be able to see that.
“Before I go out there, I say a little prayer. Again, just my faith. Not knocking nobody if they have faith or not, or whatever they believe in. Believe in whatever you wanna believe in, folks. It’s not my business, but I say a little prayer and I thank God that my niece and nephew can watch me now on TNT,” he said. “And I’m not trying to be a shill, but there’s like a TNT app. I remember telling my brother to get it so the kids can see it. It’s a great feeling, but again, I’m happy about it, now I gotta move on and do better.”
“AEW’s my last stop. I’m not goin’ anywhere else. I’m 38 years old and been doing this, actually is today October 12? Yeah, I been doing it 19 years today. I’m not goin’ anywhere else, man. It’s sink or swim with this company. I’m not gonna sink, I’ll say that much. I won’t sink, and I won’t let the company sink,” Kingston said.
“Everyone can say ‘you’re bein’ a company man, you’re sellin’ out,’ this and that. Hey bro, like I said, I was broke. I was broke durin’ the pandemic. I paid off all my bills I could with the money I made in the UK before I came home, and after that I was sittin’ at home broke,” he said. “I’m hungry, and I’m not gonna let anything stop me or AEW or put me in that situation again where I’m sitting in my house going ‘I may have to sell this.’ I’m not gonna get myself in that situation again.”
With nearly two decades in the industry, there’s no doubt things have taken a physical toll on him. When we spoke, I asked Eddie Kingston how his body was feeling and how many more years of competition he believes he has left in the tank.
“In all honesty, this is gonna sound crazy. I think I have ten more years. Now I’m makin’ a good chunk of change, let’s just say that, and I’m able now to get massage therapy. I’m able now to go to the chiropractor. I’m able now to buy myself a sauna at home. I’m able now to, I just bought a thing for me to jump into ice,” he said. “Now I’m able to do all that stuff. Back in the day it was stretch and hope for the best. Now that, like I said, I got the good chunk of change, I can take care of myself better. So right now, I think I can go another ten.”
AEW Dynamite airs tonight on TNT at 8 pm ET/7 pm CT, and AEW Dark can be found on the official AEW YouTube every Tuesday. Tonight’s episode celebrates one year of AEW Dynamite, but this could be just the beginning for Eddie Kingston in All Elite Wrestling.