After a groundswell of support behind him for his performance at Elimination Chamber on Sunday, there are reportedly plans in place for Kofi Kingston to face Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship at the Fastlane PPV on March 10.
Kingston is currently the "front-runner" to face Bryan, reports Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio.
Previously on Tuesday, Meltzer (h/t Robert Gunier of WrestlingInc.com) reported WWE was instead looking to bring back a "recognizable star" to feud with Bryan over the title. Meltzer cited the fan response to Kingston's performances in last Tuesday's gauntlet match and then again at Elimination Chamber on Sunday as the reasoning for the change of heart.
Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Bray Wyatt, Kurt Angle, John Cena, Batista and The Undertaker were mentioned by Meltzer as potential opponents for Bryan at WrestleMania 35, and that decision is still unknown.
After lasting over an hour in a gauntlet match on the go-home episode of SmackDown Live ahead of the pay-per-view, Kingston was the final challenger remaining in Sunday's Elimination Chamber match for the WWE title. Kofi went toe-to-toe with Bryan and nearly beat him on several occasions, but Bryan finally made the New Day member tap out.
Kingston initially was not supposed to be part of either match, as he was a late injury replacement for Mustafa Ali.
That would suggest the original plan was never for Kingston to feud with Bryan, but seeing how WWE has captured lightning in a bottle with the popular veteran, it could be beneficial to reverse course and put Kingston in a prime spot heading toward WrestleMania.
The 37-year-old Kingston is one of the most accomplished Superstars in WWE history, as he is an eight-time tag team champion, four-time intercontinental champion and three-time United States champion. The one major accolade that has eluded him is a world title reign.
Based on the commercials that have run in advance of Tuesday's SmackDown, Bryan's opponent for Fastlane may be determined on Tuesday's SmackDown Live.
Even if WWE doesn't intend to go all the way to WrestleMania with Kingston as the challenger, having him face Bryan at Fastlane could be a nice consolation. Perhaps no babyface on SmackDown is more widely supported than Kingston currently, and giving him a one-on-one shot at the title at Fastlane would drum up interest in a pay-per-view fans typically look past in anticipation of WrestleMania.
There is a lot of potential mileage to be had out of a Bryan vs. Kingston feud since Bryan is backed by Rowan, while Kofi has the support of fellow New Day members Big E and Xavier Woods. If Harper returns and aligns himself with Bryan and Rowan, the two sides could be on equal footing as well.
Since there is no clear opponent for Bryan heading toward WrestleMania, bringing someone back into the fold is a strong possibility. It isn't often that fans unite behind one person organically, though, and it could be argued that WWE should reward Kingston for making that happen.
Listen to Ring Rust Radio for all of the hot wrestling topics. Catch the latest episode in the player below (warning: some language NSFW).