Kofi Kingston Talks Elimination Chamber, WWE Title Run, KofiMania 2, Ali, More
It is two years since KofiMania kicked off at Elimination Chamber, and following his win on Monday's Raw, Kofi Kingston is hoping history will repeat itself when he competes for the WWE Championship once more inside Satan's Structure.
Sunday's Raw Elimination Chamber match was initially billed as featuring only former WWE champions, yet Kingston's name was left off the list of contenders. He brought the oversight to the attention of WWE official Adam Pearce on Monday and earned himself a spot in the bout by beating The Miz later in the show.
The 2019 Elimination Chamber was where Kingston got his long-awaited shot at the WWE title and fell short. However, his incredible performance paved the way for him to fight for the prestigious prize again at WrestleMania 35 and ultimately win it.
The Ghana native's time in WWE since debuting in 2008 has been nothing short of remarkable, having won virtually everything the company has had to offer multiple times over. He's a history-maker and one of the most beloved Superstars to ever grace the squared circle.
Ahead of Elimination Chamber, Kingston spoke to Bleacher Report about a potential sequel to KofiMania, who he wants to see get their just due, his ongoing rivalry with Mustafa Ali, and more. Check out the complete audio of the interview on the next slide and stick around for the highlights.
Qualifying for Elimination Chamber at the Last Minute
One week ago, Kingston wasn't scheduled to compete at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. By virtue of his victory over The Miz on Monday's Raw, however, he is set to compete for the WWE Championship on Sunday.
"It's just a testament to how quickly things can turn around, and I have been fortunate enough to experience that on several occasions over the past decade-plus," Kingston said. "That's just the way that it goes.
"Mr. Pearce had all former WWE champions in the pods, and I was wondering what was going on, but fate has a funny way of making it right. Hopefully, we come out on top and run it back and get a second WWE Championship title run on my record.”
Kingston's absence from the star-studded Chamber match confused fans as he had more of a reason to be there than The A-Lister, who is already in possession of the Money in the Bank briefcase.
The New Day member was also never given his rightful rematch for the title after losing it in quick and decisive fashion to Brock Lesnar on the Oct. 4, 2019 episode of SmackDown.
The power of positivity isn't just an on-air gimmick for Kingston, though. He's maintained an optimistic outlook on everything throughout his career and hasn't hearkened too much on what he can't control.
For him, it's all about what's next, and his sights are set on becoming a two-time WWE champ this weekend.
"I've been around long enough to know that things can change at the drop of a hat," he said. "You just keep on grinding, that's always been my philosophy. Even when I lost to Brock, the next day it was back to work and we ended up winning the tag team championship two more times.
"You just keep on grinding, and when all is said and done at the end of my career, then I think I'll look back. Right now, I'm still doing this, so I don't really take time to look back at things and reminisce and all of that. It's all about pushing forward."
His History Inside Elimination Chamber and Why This Year Will Be Different
Thankfully for Kingston, he's no stranger to the Elimination Chamber concept. Before he could make his debut in the steel structure at No Way Out in 2009, he was ambushed beforehand by Edge and had his spot stolen by him.
Since then, he's competed in five Chamber matches, one of which he won with The New Day. This Sunday will mark his sixth, but even he admits that stepping inside the cage never gets easier knowing the level of pain he's about to endure.
"I kind of take it as 'It is what it is,'" he said. "You know you're going in there and you know what's going to happen. When you make contact with the steel, it's a bit different than a cage because I feel like a cage has a bit of give. The Elimination Chamber, there's no give whatsoever. It's a brutal match, but it's one where you really have to earn it."
Although he's never won a Chamber on his own, the former WWE champion has been a part of many memorable moments in the match, including having his head stuck between the chain links on the outside. He also came close to winning in 2019 before being thwarted by Daniel Bryan.
Without anyone in attendance to feed off of, this year's Elimination Chamber will be a bit different. Having a crowd present gives the Superstars adrenaline and helps them push through the pain, but it's a whole other atmosphere when the stadium seating consists of nothing but video screens.
"We feed off the crowd," Kingston said about The New Day. "A lot of times, we'll pay more attention to the crowd than we will our opponents in the ring. It's been a bit of a transition for us having to go out and manufacture our own energy as opposed to feeding off energy.
"It's different being in the ThunderDome now. The environment is a lot more exciting, just to be able to know and see that people are actually watching."
Kingston isn't satisfied with just one WWE title reign to his name, though. He wants to do it all over again two years on from his first taste of that glory.
"Especially with this Elimination Chamber being all former WWE champions, you would think you would win one and be satisfied and it's not like that at all," he said. "You just want more. You want more reigns and be the face of the company.
"I think that energy in itself, being in there with so many guys who have the same mentality, that's a different type of energy, too. It's almost like an All-Star game: You're fighting against the best of the best."
Is KofiMania 2 Even Possible Without Fans in Attendance?
The genesis of KofiMania was that the WWE Universe desperately wanted to see Kingston succeed at the main event level. He had been afforded some world title opportunities before but rarely in singles competition.
After running the gauntlet on SmackDown before Elimination Chamber 2019, fans rallied behind the idea of him winning the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber match. He just fell short on that night, but his performance was so strong that the crowd clamored for him to get another opportunity at WrestleMania 35.
It's been 16 months since he last held the gold, but Kingston was still super-popular with crowds before the coronavirus pandemic. Without anyone in attendance to cheer him on now, he doesn't know if KofiMania 2 is even possible.
"The crazy thing is that I feel like if the Elimination Chamber two years ago happened without fans in the crowd, I don't know if I would have gotten the drive and the push that I got," Kingston said. "It was 99 percent fan-driven. You got into the arena, and everyone would be chanting my name. You felt a certain kind of energy."
Fans or no fans, he doesn't know if the momentum he had in those first few months of 2019 can be matched in the remainder of his career.
"Honestly, I don't think that anything will ever have the same level of energy as that first championship title run that I had," he said. "Just the whole story going into it was something really special, really unique. Daniel Bryan [was] the perfect opponent, being in the same shoes a year or two earlier. You really couldn't have written it any better than it happened, and the fact is that it was organic.
"The unfortunate thing is that it came at [Mustafa] Ali's expense because he ended up getting injured and if he doesn't get injured, I'm not even in that spot at all. I'm still thankful that it all happened the way it did because, again, it was organic."
Why He Wants to See Cesaro Get His Own KofiMania Moment
From The Miz to Randy Orton, Kingston has had a handful of incredible opponents over the course of his career, but none have truly brought the best out of him both in singles and tag team competition the way Cesaro has time and time again.
The two first waged war over the United States Championship in 2012. They continued to clash in the years that followed over the Raw and SmackDown Team Championships, most notably when The New Day beat Cesaro and Tyson Kidd for their first set of tag titles at Extreme Rules in 2015.
Kingston agrees with many fans that if anyone on the WWE roster deserves their own KofiMania moment, it's The Swiss Superman.
"There's so many people who are so good and so deserving and so capable of being the face of WWE, but I can't think of anyone else but Cesaro," he said. "I know there was a lot of talk of NakaMania with Shinsuke as well, and not to say he's not deserving of it, but Cesaro and I have had a lot of history."
Interestingly enough, Cesaro was one of the roadblocks Kingston had to overcome to earn himself a WWE Championship opportunity at WrestleMania 35.
However, The Swiss Cyborg has generated some momentum with recent wins over Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler and could reign supreme in Sunday's SmackDown Elimination Chamber match for a shot at the Universal Championship later in the evening.
"He's just awesome," Kingston said. "He's so amazing in so many ways, in ways we can't even express from a performance aspect, from an entertainment aspect, from a knowledge aspect, from a technical aspect. He can high-fly if he wants to. He's smooth in there.
"He's probably, pound-for-pound, the strongest person in WWE. He just checks off so many different boxes, and I feel like he deserves it. It would be amazing to see Cesaro as the WWE or universal champion."
Will Fans Ever Hear His Old Entrance Music on WWE TV Again?
Long before becoming a tag team legend with Big E and Xavier Woods in The New Day, Kingston was the leader of The Boom Squad and sported Jamaican colors for his ring gear. That was because he was initially introduced to the WWE Universe as being from Jamaica in 2008, accent and all.
Even after dropping the accent in October 2009, Kingston continued his thunder-clapping hand gestures and came out to the same song for years. It wasn't until he joined forces with The New Day that he completely reinvented himself and moved on from every aspect of that character.
A small contingent of fans hoped he would either bring back "S.O.S." as his entrance theme or debut a new song entirely when he won the WWE Championship in 2019. That obviously never happened, with the Ghana native now explaining he only sees himself moving forward, not backward.
"I'm always thinking about pushing forward," Kingston said. "'S.O.S.' is an amazing song. Collie Buddz on the track, he's an amazing artist. I can't even believe I got him to do that music, it was all by chance.
"It'll be weird for me to come out to that because then it's like, 'Woah, why don't you put on the Jamaican accent? Why don't you have your short dreadlocks again? Why don't you wear those Jamaican colors again?'"
As much as Kingston appreciates the fans' support of who he once was, he insists that the only way for them to hear him come out to that theme again is if they watch his old matches on WWE Network.
"It's awesome that my character back then resonated with so many people," he said. "We actually touched on it when we went in the time machine on an episode of SmackDown to 2009, but that's probably the last time you'll hear it on WWE television unless we get that time machine again.
"I don't know, maybe if I end up doing something with Bray [Wyatt] and he ends up bringing me into that Firefly FunHouse and he dresses up like old Kofi Kingston. He puts on a dreadlock wig and starts Boom Dropping and thunder-clapping. I wouldn't mind seeing that, so we'll see."
His Thoughts on Being the Longest-Reigning Black World Champion in WWE History
B/R's own Philip Lindsey shared 10 fascinating Black historical moments in WWE history this past week, one which involved Kingston. He noted that, at 180 days, The New Day man is the longest-reigning Black world champion the company has ever had.
Although The Rock held the WWE Championship on eight occasions, none of his reigns exceeded the four-month mark. Even Booker T and Mark Henry, who won the World Heavyweight Championship in 2006 and 2011 respectively, didn't hold the gold for more than five months.
Additionally, Kingston was booked dominantly throughout his tenure with the title and rarely lost. It was a dream come true for not only him but also for many fans watching worldwide who thought something like that could never happen, let alone at WrestleMania.
Upon learning about the stat, the former WWE titleholder expressed his delight at the fact.
"I take a lot of pride in that, that's really, really cool, especially being the first African-born WWE champion," Kingston said. "I always tell people, and I sound like a broken record, but it's awesome because when you tell a kid that anything is possible, they believe because you say it but when they see it, it makes a huge difference.
"When African American kids look at their WWE television screens and watch the product and they see there has been an African-born WWE champion and I was the one, it's a reality. It's not hypothetical.”
If it can happen once, Kingston is confident it can happen again, and Elimination Chamber is the perfect place for that dream to become a reality for a second time.
Why Mustafa Ali Leads His List of Desired Opponents Right Now
Kingston has had the chance to mix it up with pretty much everyone over the last 13 years in WWE, and he feels the wrestling world has more talent now than ever before.
When asked about his top desired opponents, the former WWE champion specifically named Mustafa Ali, whom he has been at odds with for the last two months.
Kingston and Xavier Woods have traded victories with members of Ali's Retribution faction in tag team action, but the former WWE champ has yet to square off with him one-on-one.
Given their history from two years ago, the story for that match essentially writes itself.
"Honestly, I would like to face Ali at some point because as I mentioned before, we all know that I was the one who took his spot in the Elimination Chamber, sparking the greatest moment in my career," Kingston said.
"He's been pretty bitter about that, and I think there's some potential there. I feel bad sometimes that I had to be the one to take his spot because nobody wants to get injured. No one wants to see that happen to anybody, and I know how he's feeling. I would like to close that chapter."
Ali's injury being the catalyst behind KofiMania was hardly acknowledged upon his return to the ring a few months later. WWE never bothered to have him challenge Kingston while he was WWE champion, even though it would have made perfect sense.
"I'm a big fan of things that seem like ancient history and bringing them back," Kingston said. "For example, the rivalry between myself and Randy Orton. We all know what happened in 2009 or in 2010 when my trajectory was pretty good and I was doing all right. Randy and I had a match, some things happened in that match, he got very upset, and I had to grind for the next decade-plus to bring that storyline back after I finally became WWE champion.
"People remember that kind of stuff, so I think it'd be cool to touch back on that with Ali. He's doing his thing with Retribution right now, but that'd be something I would love."
Needless to say, Kingston capturing his second WWE Championship at Elimination Chamber and putting it on the line against Ali at WrestleMania 37 would be a brilliant way for the storyline to come full circle.
Catch Kofi Kingston in action at WWE Elimination Chamber on Sunday, February 21 at 7/6c on WWE Network.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.