Kofi Kingston on 14 years in WWE: “I’ve become a lot more true to myself, it’s the most liberating thing”

via wwe.com
via wwe.com /

Kofi Kingston talks on his career and what’s next for him after 14 years in the WWE.

It’s virtually impossible to list off some of the greatest Royal Rumble moments from the last decade and for Kofi Kingston’s name to not come in that conversation.

No one has avoided elimination in the men’s Royal Rumble match over the years quite like Kingston. Not only is he looking to make more memories come Saturday night in St. Louis, this time he plans on winning the whole thing.

He’s had his hands full as of late on Friday Night SmackDown with Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss, the latter of whom he has traded wins with this month. The week on the blue brand, he’ll be reuniting with Big E to take on the dastardly duo in an attempt to score some revenge and build momentum ahead of the Rumble.

In speaking to Daily DDT, the former WWE champion had plenty to say about the upcoming pay-per-view, celebrating 14 years on the main roster and what he’s learned in that time, potentially his own entrance music again, and more.

Kofi Kingston reflects on missing last year’s Royal Rumble

Few current WWE Superstars are more synonymous with the Royal Rumble match than Kingston.

Since debuting on WWE TV in January 2008, he has missed only two Rumble matches: 2008 and 2021. He admitted to thinking he would be in the 2008 Rumble before it didn’t happen, and then he was hurt for last year’s installment.

With it being the only Rumble to ever occur without an audience in attendance due to the pandemic, his brief absence from action turned out to be a blessing in disguise in a way. The electric crowds are the backbone of what makes the Rumble so special.

“The Royal Rumble is always such a hot event,” Kingston said. “It’s going to be dope, especially from the fact we didn’t have any fans watching [in the building] last year and for me too since I was hurt last year, which I don’t think a lot of people realize. I wasn’t in the Rumble last year, so I’m itching to get back and I’m sure the people are itching to get back too and see it live.”

Kingston has avoided elimination in the Rumble time and time again, most notably doing a handstand on the outside of the ring in 2012 and jumping from the barricade back to the ring apron two years later.

Going forward, he isn’t too focused on being as innovative with that sort of stuff as he has in the past as much as he is on finally winning a Rumble and punching his ticket to the main event of WrestleMania.

“Obviously, when people talk about Royal Rumbles, they’re like, ‘Oh, what are you going to do? How are you going to survive elimination? What are going to do?’ And I’m like, ‘Uh, I’d like to win!'” he said. “It was definitely strange to not be a part of it last year, but if there was any one I’d choose to miss, it’d be last year. I know it was a unique experience for the people who got to perform in the ring at that point in time, but I don’t know it was unique in the right way.”

He emphasized that the success of a Rumble almost entirely hinges on the energy people bring to the arena and it’s the event people look forward to the most next to WrestleMania. It’s an interactive event that can be enjoyed by anyone.

Kingston has been around long enough to have taken part in two Royal Rumble matches that didn’t feature the traditional 30 men: the 2011 installment with 40 and 2018’s Greatest Royal Rumble with 50 in Saudi Arabia. He’s of the mindset that everyone should get a chance to compete in a Rumble at one point or another and thus is in favor of adding more spots to the January classic.

“From a fan standpoint, we want to see as many people in there as possible,” he said. “Having more people in there gives more people the opportunity to actually be in, so from a performer standpoint, everybody should get a chance to be in the Rumble at some point in time. You think that 30 spots is a lot. When you start counting down everybody that’s on the roster, it really isn’t that many spots, and then you start bringing in people who aren’t necessarily on the active roster and those spots start getting taken up pretty quickly. I like it when there’s more people in there.”

Kofi Kingston offers high praise for Big E’s WWE Championship reign

Kingston and King Woods were riding high in the tag team ranks on SmackDown up until Woods suffered a minor injury that will see him miss the Royal Rumble. Kingston flew solo for a week or two but has since reunited with Raw’s Big E with the two set to take on Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss this Friday on SmackDown.

Extreme Rules in July 2020 marked the last time Kingston and Big E teamed up without Woods. It was the night they lost the SmackDown Tag Team Championship to Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura, and from there, Big E went on to become a breakout singles star.

Kingston couldn’t be prouder of the progress Big E has made over the last two years, specifically his huge WWE Championship win last fall and the four-month reign that followed.

“It’s amazing to see how far he’s come in that two-year period because I feel like right before the pandemic, everybody was really pushing for Big E to be the one to get the push and get the chance to be the face of the company,” Kingston said. “He has all the tools to be the face in the company: his strength, his size, his persona, his infectiousness, his ability to move people when he pics up the microphone, and he’s also a very intimidating person when he wants to be.”

From the many media appearances Big E made and the way he represented the Raw brand, Kingston believes he proved he could be an incredible champion as well as the face of the company. He was happy to see him get his due, and now that both of them have “leveled up,” he looks forward to the challenge that lies ahead for them on SmackDown.

Kofi Kingston on his mindset now compared to when he debuted 14 years ago

January 22, 2008 marked Kingston’s WWE main roster debut on the ECW brand. This was back when he was being billed from Jamaica (accent and all) and had to pretend to be something he wasn’t.

Needless to say, the difference between the Kofi Kingston of then and the Kofi Kingston of today is night and day. In addition to everything he’s accomplished in the ring, he’s truly found himself as a performer and has never been more confident in his abilities.

“The main difference is that I’m more comfortable and confident in being able to deliver every time I step in the ring. Not to say that I wasn’t when I was young, but I was a lot more nervous. I didn’t really know who I was. Now, I just get to go out there and be myself without any sort of regret or timidness or really any care about whatever anybody thinks.

“If I want to go out there as a 40-year-old man and twerk, I will go out there and twerk,” he continued. “I’ll shake my hips and shake what my momma gave me and it’s all good. People will go online and say, ‘You’re not being serious, man. You should take things seriously!’ And I don’t really care. Back in the day, I might have taken into consideration what people are saying and try to appease a certain group of people here and there. Now, I’ve become a lot more true to myself and it is the most liberating thing.”

Being successful while being true to yourself to what New Day is all about. He believes that not worrying about conforming to a certain lifestyle and instead focusing on what makes one happy is the best way to live life.

That mindset has taken the entire group very far in WWE with all of them racking up countless accolades both individually and as a unit. Following Kingston’s six-month run as WWE champion in 2019, Big E went on to capture the Intercontinental Championship in 2020 and eventually the WWE Championship. Meanwhile, Xavier Woods won the 2021 King of the Ring tournament last October.

Big E and Woods have both gotten new singles entrance themes, but Kingston continues to come out to the New Day music. He confirmed there was talk of him debuting a new walkout song in the buildup to WrestleMania 35 but that it was scrapped soon after.

Having a good entrance theme can be crucial for a character, and as recognizable as the New Day music is, Kingston would want his own song provided that it made sense from a storyline standpoint.

“In order me to have a new theme, there’s got to be a reason,” he said. “For example, Woods becoming king, that warranted him having his own music outside of The New Day because he accomplished this incredible goal that he’s had since he was a youth… Woods has never really had a singles opportunity in WWE. When he first came out, he was R-Truth’s best fiend. Even in TNA, and I guess I can say TNA now because of the Forbidden Door, he was never able to have his own singles career and he was R-Truth’s best friend in his TNA debut, too.”

Kingston added that the WWE Universe now sees Woods for the ultra-talented competitor that he is and him getting his own entrance theme (courtesy of Mega Ran) was simply the icing on the cake.

“You have to have your own music that means something to you,” he said. “Obviously same thing with Big E with his singles career. For me, there would have to be some significance to it. For WrestleMania in 2019 when I won the WWE Championship, we were actually planning on having my own separate theme that we worked on with Mega Ran and Wale. We had an amazing beat, and then at the end of the day, it was killed and they opted to go with the New Day music. And by ‘they,’ I mean he who shall not be named and you know who I’m talking about. But it’s all good. Again, there has to be a reason for me to do that and it would have to fit. We’d have to see what the situation would bring.”

Catch Kofi Kingston at WWE Royal Rumble this Saturday, January 29 at 8/7c on Peacock