Kofi Kingston is the modern-day Ricky Steamboat.
No, I’m not saying that Kingston is or will ever be as good as “The Dragon” was. But their career parallels are certainly there, with both men almost always delivering great matches but not quite becoming the top guy in their respective companies.
Both Kingston and Steamboat have thrived in the upper-midcard role, where they’ve remained babyfaces for their entire careers and have had the support and love of the crowd almost from the get-go.
While Steamboat had a Hall of Fame career, he is known for being one of the best wrestlers to never win a World title in either WCW or the WWE. Many wrestling fans think that Kingston will follow a similar path for the remainder of his career.
Kingston will continue to perform well in the ring and be over with the crowd, but will he ever rise to the very top of the card and win a World title?
As we’ve always heard, you “never say never,” especially when it comes to the wrestling business.
But as Kingston approaches the five-year mark of his WWE career, many are wondering if he will remain in the very same role he’s spent his entire career in or if he will eventually become one of the WWE’s top-tier stars.
I can’t definitively say he’ll go one way or the other, but I will say this: His feud with The Miz seems to be helping him more than just about anything he’s done over the last couple of years.
Since around late 2010, Kingston has spent the vast majority of his time either wasting away in the midcard (without a notable feud) or competing in the WWE’s depleted tag team division. Although he’s had flashes of brilliance and, more importantly, major pushes here and there, it’s almost like he’s been stuck on autopilot for two straight years now.
But after Kingston split with R-Truth last month following their tag team run, the WWE appeared committed to reestablishing him as a singles star, even letting he and Ziggler absolutely steal the show on Raw a while back.
Still, Kingston was losing more often than he was winning. That was until he found himself going after The Miz and his Intercontinental Championship.
Obviously, The Miz isn’t at the same level he was in late 2010 or early 2011. But he is the most accomplished singles stars that Kingston has feuded with since Kofi and Randy Orton were embroiled in a bitter rivalry in late 2009.
It was Orton who helped catapult Kingston to new heights, bringing him to the very cusp of the main-event scene, where he was seemingly mere inches away from being a legitimate World title contender. Since then, however, Kingston hasn’t been given very many opportunities to have a feud that actually matters or has any real depth.
Kingston has remained in that role as a reliable upper-midcard babyface who almost always delivers the good but never really finds himself involved in must-see storylines. But his feud with the “most must-see WWE Champion in history” has breathed new life into the often overlooked superstar.
For the first time since that feud with Orton, Kingston has gotten a legitimate chance to grab the mic, to show some intensity and make us care about him more for reasons other than his abilities in the ring.
Clearly, the WWE hasn’t built up this Miz/Kingston rivalry perfectly, and with The Miz invoking his rematch clause at Hell in a Cell on Sunday, there’s a chance that their rivalry may already be coming to a conclusion.
But this feud has definitely paid dividends for Kingston.
He’s had two memorable matches with The Miz (on Raw and his fantastic title win on Main Event), he’s grabbed the mic for the first time in quite a while, and he’s actually had some depth to one of his feuds.
This might not go down as the greatest rivalry in WWE history, but it may ultimately prove to be the one that finally got Kingston over the hump and took him one step closer to the promised land.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!