WWE Hot Take: Kofi Kingston Must Lose Title to Dolph Ziggler at Stomping Grounds

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJune 22, 2019


WWE's Stomping Grounds pay-per-view Sunday is arguably one of the least hyped events in modern wrestling history.

As such, creating a memorable moment or two is a must for WWE—which means it is probably time for Kofi Kingston to drop the WWE Championship.

Think in broad strokes about where WWE is at. Stomping Grounds tickets haven't exactly been flying off the shelf, according to H Jenkins of Ringside News. It comes right after the botch-filled Super ShowDown in Saudi Arabia, where WWE fans went in knowing it was an almost non-canon event, which meant no title changes or anything meaningful happened.

That Undertaker and Goldberg could barely finish the main event was a highlight, which says it all.

Stomping Grounds doesn't look much better, at least from the sense a title change or two could happen. Bayley isn't likely to drop her title yet. Becky Lynch isn't going to lose her belt to a newcomer like Lacey Evans. Ricochet still isn't believable enough to get past Samoa Joe for the United States title.

There is Seth Rollins' dance with Baron Corbin and, to a much greater extent, Brock Lesnar and his Money in the Bank briefcase, not to mention the allure of the mystery guest referee. But let's be blunt: WWE isn't going to stop using this Lesnar cash cow for a long time, it isn't going to throw a title on Corbin and it isn't going to have the universal title stop appearing on shows again.

Oh, and Lesnar isn't winning a belt on a program called Stomping Grounds.

That leaves Kingston.

And at very the least, there are some interesting things to consider here. This is a cage match, so some creative Kofi spots and fun offense within a story being told are always possible. Dolph Ziggler isn't a slouch, either, so having him pull off some shenanigans to steal a win is always an option on the table.

But thinking through a longer lens, there is the New Day angle. No, they are not breaking up or anything like that, but maybe Ziggler finds a way to prove his point by having one of the New Day accidentally cost Kofi the title. WWE, after all, has been pushing this "would Kofi be champ without help?" angle online.

There is something else to consider here: Shane McMahon. WWE seems intent on shoving the Shane heel thing down viewers' throats for as long as possible, especially after he just picked up a win over Roman Reigns. It feels like Shane is headed for a program's top title—and while it would get a massive reaction, even WWE isn't silly enough to risk alienating fans by having Shane beat Kofi.

The hypothetical solution? Throw the belt on a transitional player like Ziggler and have Shane beat him. That loops Reigns into the title scene for the summer before SmackDown's move to Fox, and Kofi is left to his own devices in the aftermath, sorting things out with New Day and beyond.

Nobody said this would be popular. But in the grand scheme of things, Kingston can only remain in the "overcome every challenge" phase for so long before he needs to get back into chase mode. That he serves as a vehicle for reviving a silly pay-per-view and setting longer-term plans in motion is a nice catch-all situation.

WWE needs to restore that "anything can happen" feel to its events. The shows don't feel meaningful at all and are having ratings problems. Supposed pay-per-view events can't afford to start suffering the same fate. In an era of exciting upstarts like All Elite Wrestling and an ever-present online fanbase, WWE can't have clear-cut "B" pay-per-views. Not everything can be WrestleMania, either, but things have to start happening.

And fans can handle it. They wouldn't be here if they weren't passionate about the product. If some choose to take an understandable pass on Stomping Grounds and something major happens, they will get it and make a point to always tune in. It won't save the cable programming, but it's a starter. After all, weekly programming has been plagued with fake cash-ins and title matches since 'Mania.

It would be a bit of a shame if this correction to the product sacrificed Kingston's title run. But it would be a bit poetic too, as his ascension was an organic uprising spurred on by the fans. And unlike unexpected recent champs such as, say, Jinder Mahal, Kingston isn't going anywhere and should remain a major player from here on out.

Kingston, having finally reached the mountaintop, won't always need a title to stay there. He's a prime loss candidate Sunday to further the WWE machine, but the good news is it also could lend to some superb storytelling and make it so that no big WWE event is considered skippable.