Most professional wrestlers either turn heel or face at some point during their career as it's very rare for someone to stay on one side of the fence for an extended period of time. One superstar in particular who has yet to transition, though, is Kofi Kingston. If he is ever going to take that next step, however, it needs to happen sooner rather than later.
Since making his WWE debut back in 2007 on the ECW brand, Kingston has been a happy-go-lucky face. To say that it has worked out pretty well for him would be an understatement as he is almost always in possession of championship gold. Not only is he the current Intercontinental Champion, but he has held that title on three other occasions, as well as the Tag Team Championship three times and the United States Championship twice.
Kofi has established himself as a top mid-card face and perhaps that is all he ever wanted to be.
There are plenty of guys who have been mid-carders for the vast majority of their time in WWE, yet they are still considered among the best ever. Mr. Perfect, "Ravishing" Rick Rude and Jake "The Snake" Roberts come to mind. None of them ever won a world title in WWE, but all of them are remembered fondly.
With that said, things are different in wrestling now. The WWE's world title scene used to be dominated by elite babyfaces like Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior, so there wasn't much room for anyone else. Anyone with an ounce of talent or potential can usually at least contend for a world title in wrestling today, though, so I'm guessing that Kingston aspires to achieve more.
Maybe he could be a transitional challenger to a heel world champion with his current character, but there is absolutely no way that he could be a world champion in his current state. His in-ring work is always good and his athleticism is something to behold, however, he doesn't have a character. All he does his prance around with a big grin on his face, high five the fans and say "boom."
That's perfectly fine for a mid-card act, but a main-eventer needs far more substance than that. Kofi can't cut a promo to save his life right now as the extent of what he can come up with is unleashing the beast or unleashing the wildcat. It takes a special kind of guy to reach the main event without being able to speak, and Kingston just isn't that guy.
While Kofi can't just suddenly become great on the mic, a character change can at least freshen him up. Being a face limits what a wrestler can say on the mic, but turning heel would essentially remove Kofi's filter. I'm not sure if he has it in him to be a disrespectful, hateful person, but turning heel would give him the opportunity to try it.
It seemed like Kingston might have taken the first step toward a heel turn last week when he refused to shake The Miz's hand and delivered a dropkick instead. It can be assumed that Miz was simply setting up Kofi, but Miz has been leaning toward the face end of the spectrum lately and Kofi's refusal to reciprocate an act of sportsmanship could be the first step in his turn.
Kingston doesn't seem like a natural heel by any means, but it's time for a change. Kofi hit his ceiling long ago and it isn't possible to break through it by doing the same things that have been stagnant for the past couple years. A heel Kofi would be a shock to the system, but he has become such an established babyface character that the fans are bound to react if he strays from it at all.
As much as the WWE would be losing a reliable mid-card face by turning Kofi, it is a very easy change to make. Kingston can use the obligatory logic that smiling and pandering to the fans has never gotten him anywhere. He can say that he wants to achieve greatness and the only way to do that is by looking out for himself and nobody else.
Ideally the WWE would find a mouthpiece for Kofi, but there is a severe lack of managers in the company. Paul Heyman doesn't seem like a good fit and Vickie Guerrero is more worried about being the managing supervisor of RAW, so Kingston is pretty much on his own.
The WWE could always look outside the company and poach someone like Prince Nana from Ring of Honor, though. I'm not sure if ROH has a no-compete policy like some of the bigger promotions, but Prince Nana would be the perfect manager for Kingston due to the fact that both are from Ghana, so they share a common bond.
Although that would be ideal, it's fairly unlikely.
Even so, Kofi has to turn heel eventually and I believe it's only a matter of time. I still don't necessarily think that Kingston has the personality needed to be a world champion in the WWE, but we'll never find out unless he and the writers decide to take an alternate path.