Five years ago this week, Kofi Kingston competed in his first-ever match on WWE television. It's amazing to think that these past few years have just flown by since that point in time, as it feels like just yesterday Kingston was still seen as nothing more than an enhancement talent.
Although his career has stalled quite a bit in recent years, there's no denying that Kingston has proven numerous times over the last five years exactly why he's more than deserving of being in the main event..
With the new year finally upon us, I have hope that 2013 will finally be the year that Kingston breaks out of the mid-card and takes his rightful place in the World Championship picture, but time will only tell as far as that goes.
His rise to the top has been built perfectly, and his time will surely be coming sooner rather than later.
In light of this special anniversary, I'll highlight the top 15 moments in the WWE career of Kofi Kingston over the course of the last five years. One can only assume that these moments are only the beginning of Kingston's tenure going forward.
For nearly two months, various vignettes aired on WWE ECW hyping the pending of Kofi Kingston. The video packages didn't reveal much about Kingston, but they indicated that Kingston was clearly a fan favorite who apparently hailed from Jamaica.
On the January 22, 2008 edition of ECW, Kingston finally arrived in the Land of Extreme. He competed in his first-ever WWE match that night, defeating local athlete David Owen.
The pure athleticism and agility Kingston displayed during the course of this contest would become a trend in the rest of his matches. He quickly caught the attention of the WWE Universe, and this would only be the beginning of a captivating career for Kofi Kingston.
Shortly following his WWE debut, Kingston would embark on lengthy winning streak that saw him score numerous victories before finally losing to Shelton Benjamin in May. Once their feud culminated in late June, Kingston was sent packing to the Raw brand via the WWE Supplemental Draft on June 25th.
Since that Sunday was the Night of Champions pay-per-view and every champion was obligated to defend their title, then-Intercontinental Champion Chris Jericho was in need of a worthy opponent. In his first official match as a member of the Raw brand, Kingston accepted the open challenge and looked to experience his first taste of gold in WWE.
With some help from Shawn Michaels at ringside, Kingston blasted Jericho with a Trouble in Paradise to score the three count and his first Intercontinental Championship. Not only did Kingston emerge victorious in his first appearance on pay-per-view, but it was against a seasoned veteran in the form of Chris Jericho.
Kingston enjoyed a nice two month reign as Intercontinental Champion before dropping the strap to Santino Marella at that year's SummerSlam pay-per-view apart of a mixed tag team match. At Unforgiven, Kingston would come to the aid of CM Punk after the Straightedge Superstar was brutally ambushed by Legacy backstage.
This would lead to Kingston and Punk joining forces to rival Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase in subsequent months. On the October 27 edition of Raw, the dynamic duo defeated Legacy to win their first World Tag Team Championships in what was a great matchup.
The two former ECW newcomers became road buddies after that and have been good friends outside the ring ever since.
Once 2008 had concluded, Kofi Kingston was seen as a breakout star after all the success he obtained over the course of his initial year in WWE. However, his chaotic career was only getting started.
Shortly after dropping the World Tag Team Championships in December 2008, Kingston broke out as a single competitor who mostly floundered for the first few months of 2009. In March 2009, Kingston defeated Chris Jericho in a Money in the Bank qualifying match on Raw to advance to WrestleMania 25.
With this being Kingston's premiere televised appearance on the grandest stage of them all, he had a lot to prove to the WWE Universe. Nonetheless, the Jamaica native had a number of shining moments over the course of the contest that left fans in absolute awe.
At one point, Kingston escalated the ladder while Mark Henry still had it in hand, attempting to reach the opportunistic briefcase using just one side of the steel structure. It didn't end well for Kingston, though, as Henry would soon realize this and caught Kingston in mid-air to deliver a World Strongest Slam on top of the fallen ladder.
Even still, many saw this as the match that truly jump-started Kofi Kingston's career into super stardom.
Following WrestleMania 25, Kofi Kingston began to chase the newly-drafted MVP and his United States Championship, which had since been moved over to the Raw brand. Although the two respected one another, they both knew that they'd do whatever it took to be the United States Champion.
After securing number one contender-ship to the U.S. title by defeating Matt Hardy and William Regal in a Triple Threat match, Kingston went head-to-head with MVP for the first time ever on the June 1 edition of Raw with the strap on the line. Although the tide was never really is either man's favor, the Jamaican-born Superstar rolled-up MVP for the three count to win his very first star-spangled prize.
For the rest of that summer season, Kingston would successfully defend the title against the likes of Carlito, Jack Swagger, Big Show and others before dropping the strap to The Miz in early October. Without a doubt, Kingston was one of the best United States Champions in recent memory.
At the Bragging Rights event in October, Kofi Kingston helped John Cena fend off Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase during his main event match with Randy Orton, which essentially cost Orton the WWE Championship. This would trigger a feud that lives on in the minds of WWE fans to this very day.
After vandalizing Orton's sports car the next night on Raw, Kingston adopted an all-new serious side to his character that saw him drop the Jamaican accent and everything. Kingston was now seen as an equal to Orton in the eyes of most fans, which was the whole purpose of this ruthless rivalry to begin with.
On the final Raw before the Survivor Series pay-per-view, Kingston came to the aid of "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and exchanged blows with The Viper. Moments later, the former U.S. Champion shocked the world by delivering a devastating Boom Drop to Orton straight through one of the production tables at the opposite end of the arena.
The fact this specific show was held within Madison Square Garden is what made this moment all the more memorable and critical in skyrocketing Kingston's career.
By the point, the feud between Kofi Kingston and Randy Orton was reaching its climax and was one of the hottest rivalries heading into 2009's Survivor Series pay-per-view. The two were named captains of their respective Survivor Series teams, where the final Superstars left standing would be deemed the victors.
At the event, it came to Kingston having to take on CM Punk and Orton all by himself. He and Punk put on an absolute clinic before the Ghanian Superstar surprised Punk with a roll-up to eliminate him. No more than a minute later, Kingston blasted Orton with a swift Trouble in Paradise to become the sole survivor of his team.
Within mere moments, Kingston had defeated two former World Champions and scored arguable the biggest victory of his career up to that point. It was a major milestone for Kingston to say the least, but it'd sadly be one of his final highlights before losing to Orton countless times in subsequent months.
Unfortunately, Kingston fell off the radar following his feud with Randy Orton heading in 2010. He was still being featured on Raw on a weekly basis, but no longer were his appearances of any importance.
It was widely rumored at one point that Kingston was originally scheduled to win the Money in the Bank Ladder match at WrestleMania 26, but due to his backstage heat with Orton, plans obviously changed. Although Kingston still had a nice showing at the event, it was nowhere near as impressive as the year prior.
Eight days later at the 2010 WWE Draft, Kingston shipped over to the SmackDown brand and made an immediate impact that same night by connecting with a Trouble in Paradise onto Chris Jericho. This move would allow Kingston to finally break into the World title picture on the blue brand, or so we thought.
Upon his anticipated arrival on SmackDown, Kofi Kingston was placed in a tournament to crown a new Intercontinental Champion after the former champ Drew McIntyre was fired by Teddy Long. Although Kingston defeated Christian in the finals, his title win was deemed invalid due to McIntyre's return to the blue brand shortly thereafter.
However, the two fought for the Intercontinental Championship at the inaugural Over the Limit event with Teddy Long as the acting special guest referee. Despite McIntyre's best attempts to retain the gold, Kingston was able to score the victory as well as his second Intercontinental Championship.
After losing his Intercontinental Championship to Dolph Ziggler in August 2010, Kofi Kingston remained in the hunt to reclaim the gold he once held. Despite losses at the Night of Champions and WWE TLC pay-per-views, Kingston was determined on once again being the Intercontinental Champion.
On the premiere SmackDown episode of 2011, Kingston was given one last shot at Ziggler's title, and the Ghanian Superstar certainly made the most out of his final opportunity. The two battled in an extremely exciting contest that saw Kingston emerge victorious following a crossbody from the top rope, which made Ziggler absolutely livid.
Before Kingston could even celebrate his third Intercontinental Championship win, the bleached-blonde Superstar involved his rematch clause for the title. Within mere moments, Kingston scored the quick victory over Ziggler and carried on with his championship celebration.
Despite the major momentum Kofi Kingston garnered upon winning the Intercontinental Championship for the third time in January 2011, his reign was ultimately a flop. He hardly won any matches while holding the title, so it was only a matter of time before he dropped the strap to Wade Barrett in March.
He barely made it onto the WrestleMania 27 card, where he, Santino Marella, Big Show and Kane defeated The Corre in a minute matchup. With things going sour for Kingston on SmackDown, a change in scenery was certainly necessary for the Ghana native.
At the 2011 WWE Draft, Kingston defeated then-United States Champion Sheamus to score a draft pick for the SmackDown brand. The following day, Kingston was sent back to the Raw brand apart of the online Supplemental Draft.
That Sunday at Extreme Rules, Kingston was placed in an impromptu Tables title match with Sheamus as made by SmackDown General Manager Teddy Long. On that night, Kingston landed a barbaric Boom Drop on the Celtic Warrior through a table a ringside, which led to Kingston capturing his second United States Championship in the process.
Of course, Kofi Kingston's second run with the United States Championship was not nearly as good as his first, so it came as no surprise when he dropped the title to Dolph Ziggler a month later at Capitol Punishment. Kingston's loss of the star-spangled prize left him once again floundering on the Raw roster, mostly being utilized as enhancement talent to main event stars such as CM Punk and Alberto Del Rio.
Following the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, Kingston joined forces with Evan Bourne, who was also hardly being used on the flagship show. One night removed from SummerSlam, the two defeated David Otunga and Michael McGillicutty and again the next week to win their first WWE Tag Team Championships together.
The dynamic duo was credited for resurrecting the tag team division in late 2011, but Air Boom quickly disbanded shortly thereafter due to Bourne's numerous violations of the WWE Wellness Policy and their subsequent loss of the titles.
After dropping the WWE Tag Team Championships in mid-January, Kofi Kingston was once again relegated to the under-card as a result of Evan Bourne's second suspension. However, Kingston undoubtedly caught the attention of the WWE Universe a few weeks later in the 2012 Royal Rumble match.
During the course of the match, Kingston was on the verge of being eliminated by The Miz when he saved himself by doing a handstand and making it back inside the ring. Per the rules of the Rumble, Kingston's feet never touched the ground, therefore he wasn't eliminated from the bout just yet.
It was an awe-inspiring moment that was certainly one of the few highlights of what was rather a disappointing Rumble. It would later earn the Slammy Award for "Tell Me I Did Not Just See That Moment of the Year" that December.
Following his stellar performance in the 2012 Royal Rumble match, Kofi Kingston would receive a minor push from that point forward. Although he competed at both Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania 28, he came up short at each event despite a strong showing.
However, it was also during this time that Kingston found a tag team partner, who was also floundering in the mid-card since returning to Raw. The two joined forces that spring season and chased then-WWE Tag Team Champions Primo and Epico before finally winning the straps one night removed from the Extreme Rules pay-per-view on Raw.
The dynamic duo would embark on a lengthy reign of five months as champions before dropping the titles to Team Hell No at Night of Champions in September.
After dropping the WWE Tag Team Championship at Night of Champions, Kofi Kingston once again left the tag division and broke out as a single competitor. He made an immediate impact by entering a feud with then-Intercontinental Champion The Miz in early October, challenging him to a championship match on the October 10 edition of WWE Main Event.
On that night, Kingston and Miz provided an extremely entertaining contest that ended with the Ghana native connecting with the Trouble in Paradise and securing his fourth Intercontinental Championship. Kingston would hold the prestigious prize until the final Raw of the year, dropping the strap to arch-rival to Wade Barrett.
At the young age of 31, Kingston still has a lot left to accomplish in WWE, but has surely made a name for himself only five years into his WWE career. While things may not be going his way at the moment, I've got a feeling they will be sooner rather than later.
Thanks for reading, Bleachers, and make sure to drop a comment with your thoughts on the illustrious career of Kofi Kingston so far, as well as predictions for the future of the former Intercontinental Champion. As always, your overall feedback and criticism is greatly appreciated.
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