Something amazing is happening with Kofi Kingston right now. In lieu of what has to be the most monumental month of his career, #KofiMania is a thing and the prospect of him entering WrestleMania as WWE Champion is actually real.
Of course, we may not be having any of this if Mustafa Ali had not gone down with an injury (potential future feud?), but there is something deeper here that I do not want us to miss. Kofi’s rise to his first ever singles match for the WWE Championship on PPV primarily has to do with the power of personality. What do I mean by this?
As we all know, WWE is a fictional universe filled with fictional characters who have roles to play. Some are good guys, some are bad guys, some walk the fine line in between, and some are authority figures.
We all know what is happening is scripted and the outcome is pre-determined. Sometimes, we can accurately predict what we will see because it can get painfully telegraphed at certain points.
That is why we have to suspend our disbelief to enhance our viewing experience. If we understand what we are seeing isn’t real, we won’t be too emotional in how we see things transpire because it has no real bearing on real life. Yet, this Kofi Kingston Cinderella story looks kind of real. Why is that so?
Kofi Kingston has always been one of the roster’s most underrated performer. He’s proven to be a reliable performer as he has rarely missed time off. He has a better resume than most of the roster, as he is a 4-time Intercontinental Champion, a 3 time United States Champion, a 7 time Tag Team Champion (including being the longest reigning tag champ of all time with The New Day), and a litany of Royal Rumble appearances.
If you picked Kofi Kingston out in a lineup and looking for superstars to stand out, he may not be what you are looking for. One of the long-standing critiques of Kofi in his singles career is his bland personality as just a happy, go-lucky South African (or Jamaican if you ask Triple H), athletic performer who can put on a decent match but is one-dimensional in every other area. So why does this moment feel so special?
It’s because we are starting to relate to him, and his past has created this moment. Kofi has been pretty much overlooked and you could have never conceived of him getting this opportunity.
The moment is special because we are given a reason to care about Kofi. We know about his performance in the Gauntlet match, lasting about an hour and defeating Daniel Bryan, Jeff Hardy and Samoa Joe while giving AJ Styles some trouble.
However, the key moment for me in that match was when he was in the ring in AJ. He was battered and fatigued, but frustration and passion overcame him. All he could do was utter two words. “ELEVEN YEARS!” Sometimes, the satisfaction comes in the journey. We may appreciate people who get opportunities when we know how long they’ve been here and knowing that it may not happen again.
What I am basically saying is that Kofi being able to show increments of his true self has enhanced his character and has empowered an army of supporters to support 1/3rd of a comedy trio to hold the company’s most storied title. And there’s a good chance that it can happen.
This phenomenon isn’t just the case with Kofi Kingston. Daniel Bryan’s rise to fame and popularity before his retirement came as a result of WWE acknowledging Daniel Bryan as a small, scruffy underdog who went through the trenches to where he got today instead of simply raising his arms to the sky and saying one word to sell T-shirts.
Why did CM Punk’s stock rise tremendously in 2011? Because we were conditioned to believe that everything he was saying about WWE, corporate management and everything else in between was real. It was all a worked shoot, but when you were sitting in front of the TV and saw CM Punk name drop Colt Cabana, Ring of Honor and directly come for Vince McMahon’s throat, you surely thought Punk was going off script for the moment and saying what was always in his head. And maybe it was.
Characters are necessary for WWE programming to advance stories, build characters and build plot points. However, feuds and characters always take on a different dynamic when you inject a dose of realism.
Maybe I am making too much out of this and am a prisoner of the moment because one of the most unlikely candidates to be WWE Champion may do the unthinkable. Perhaps this is just for a season and that Kofi isn’t really meant for this moment.
To that, I say, “Yeah, but who cares?” That’s what makes this moment special! We never expected this, and Kofi probably didn’t expect this either. He was given a batch of lemons and he’s making some sweet lemonade.
It’s easy to give brutes like Braun Strowman rehearsed catchphrases to put on merchandise. It is easy to nickname superstars like Randy Orton, “The Viper” to make him look like a comic book character. However, sometimes, being who you are is all the character you need.
The power of personality has created a moment for Kofi Kingston that is 11 years in the making, and this power may eventually lead him to the WWE Championship.
Again, this may be just a temporary experiment and a result of WWE having to change plans. This certainly wasn’t the plan. But perhaps this was always meant to happen. Who knows? All I do know is that we will all tune in to Fastlane, and see someone who is known for just showing up and doing his job fight with 11 years worth of passion.
When he was inside that Elimination Chamber, and it was just down to him and Bryan, with every near fall, I never felt something so real in a fake environment.
Kofi Kingston is technically a character, but every time he comes close to becoming WWE Champion, we will be immersed in the moment. There’s nothing more real than that.
What do you think?