AEW's Eddie Kingston Shoots on Teaming with Jon Moxley, MJF, His Promo and More
For 18 years, Eddie Kingston ground his way through the independent scene of professional wrestling. He did some work with a few bigger promotions, but the majority of his career was spent with smaller companies.
Many fans had long considered him to be one of the best talents not signed to a major promotion before All Elite Wrestling snapped him up in 2020. Now, The Mad King is on primetime television almost every week.
His career has included stints with Chikara, Evolve, the NWA, AAW, IWA, Combat Zone Wrestling, Ring of Honor and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. He even spent some time with Impact, but that only lasted a year.
One thing that has helped him stand apart from his peers is his promo ability. Whenever Kingston picks up a microphone, you can't help but stay glued to the TV to find out what he says and does.
We had a chance to speak with him this week ahead of Night 2 of Fyter Fest to talk about getting into pro wrestling, having the fans back, his recent promo after Dynamite, the future of pro wrestling and more.
Getting into Pro Wrestling as a Child
For anyone who grew up in the 1980s and '90s before the days of on-demand programming and streaming services, the only way to watch a pro wrestling event after it had aired was to rent a VHS tape from your local store.
Kingston was one of those kids. When he was a hyperactive youth, the only thing his mother could do to calm him down was put on one of those tapes.
"When I was a kid, it was the only thing that would keep me calm and relaxed," he said. "I was a hyper kid and I would run around like a maniac. My mother would put on wrestling tapes, any wrestling tapes she could get her hands on. She would sit me down on the couch, and I wouldn't move for however long the tape was."
Being in the New York area, the then-named World Wrestling Federation was the dominant promotion running regular shows out of Madison Square Garden.
"Growing up in New York, all we had was WWF at the time because my family didn't have cable yet," Kingston said. "Everyone loved Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, Macho Man and Ted DiBiase. When we got cable, I was able to see guys like Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes.
"'Hot Stuff' Eddie Gilbert was really the first guy to inspire me. My mom got a Memphis wrestling tape from the Bronx and I saw Gilbert and that was it. He was definitely the first guy who made me think I wanted to do this. He doesn't get enough credit."
When someone really gets into a sport or athletic activity as a child, it can often develop into something they hope can be a career. The vast majority of people who pursue sports find out the hard way how competitive it can be, but that didn't stop Kingston from changing career paths early and focusing on his in-ring destiny.
"When I got out of high school, I got involved with the union, the Local 580 in New York, Ironworking," he said. "It was a great job, but I looked over at the older guys in their 60s and they didn't look like they were in their 60s after all of the hard work they put in. They were coughing blood up and drinking on the job site. I wanted something more than this."
The Importance of Fans
Kingston is now a 19-year veteran of the business, but most of his career was spent working in the independent scene. While he had appeared on TV before, AEW was his first full-time gig on national television.
What is the biggest difference between performing in the indies and on TV?
"On TV, you have commercial breaks and you are on strict time," Kingston said. "You need to stick to your time because you don't want to ruin anybody else's match. Time is the biggest difference."
Whether it's on the indies or a national program, the fans are one of the most important components of pro wrestling. The performers live on those reactions and tailor their matches around what is working for the crowd and what isn't.
The coronavirus pandemic took that aspect of the business away from AEW for almost a year, but the company has recently begun touring again. Kingston found himself a little surprised at how vital the crowd truly is.
"I didn't think it would be that important because when I am in the ring, I just focus on my opponent and what I need to do," he said. "But, man, the energy the people bring was sorely missed. To have the energy in Miami and Texas is insane. I can't wait for next week. Of course, I can't wait for New Jersey."
Favorite Opponents and Staying Busy Outside the Ring
When it comes to getting in the ring and getting down to business, just about every wrestler has certain people they enjoy working with.
We asked Kingston who some of his favorite opponents are in and out of AEW.
"Jon Moxley. Teaming up with him and fighting him has been fun," he said. "Fighting The Young Bucks is great because you get to see that little bit of fear in their eyes as you're hitting them. That's a lot of fun. Honestly, everyone I have been in the ring with at AEW has been fun because I'm on national television, baby. I'm having fun.
"On the independents, it was guys like Josh Alexander and Samoa Joe, teaming with Homicide, who is my mentor. Overseas, you have guys like Trent Seven and Cara Noir, who I think the world of in the ring. I was in the ring with WALTER. There are so many guys and I know I am missing a lot from this list and I apologize to all of them, but there were so many guys in the independents who I enjoyed working with. Some of them are with the competition now. Kevin Owens is one of my favorites."
Being on the road as a full-time wrestler is more time-consuming than most professions. When you live that kind of lifestyle, it's important to find the right activities for your downtime that will both keep you busy and allow you to relax.
"Cleaning my clothes from the road. That's what keeps me busy," Kingston said. "I do muay thai at American Top Team in East Orlando. I'm doing more grappling. I should do more jiu-jitsu but it's very intimidating. I play a lot of sports video games. I am that guy in the video gaming community who only plays sports games. I go to the gym and stuff like that."
His Promo Style and Recent Post-Show Speech
While the physical side of wrestling is the hard part, being able to cut a good promo is almost as important as knowing how to lock up with an opponent.
The New York native is known for his candor and passion in his promos, and that has allowed him to stand out from the pack.
"I speak from my heart and it's genuine," Kingston said. "Everything I say is either what I mean or what my character would say. Eddie Kingston is basically me at 17 years old turned up a thousand notches. I'm just trying to be a teenage me who is getting away with things I shouldn't be able to get away with."
One promo that recently got a lot of attention wasn't even shown on TV. It was a post-show speech Kingston gave to the live crowd (above, NSFW) that garnered reactions from Bully Ray, Jim Cornette and others in and out of the business.
"To be honest, I don't care what happened," he said. "I said what I said and that's it. That was my opinion. Everyone else who said something about it, that was their opinion.
"Like my beautiful Puerto Rican mother would say, opinions are like assh--es: Everyone's got one and they all stink."
Giving Advice and the Future of the Business
As a wrestling veteran, the 39-year old is somebody others see as a source of experience and wisdom.
So what does Kingston tell younger performers who ask him for advice?
"A lot of the young guys who come to me for advice, I tell them to go to Arn Anderson or Tully Blanchard or Jake Roberts or Billy Gunn," he said. "I give them my opinion, but I also tell them to go to these guys who know a lot more than me."
One of the things you develop as a veteran in pro wrestling is the ability to spot a future star. Kingston has worked all over the world with people who have ended up in AEW, WWE, New Japan Pro-Wrestling and Impact, but who does he see as the future of pro wrestling.
"Everybody knows Jungle Boy is the future of the business," he said. "[Wheeler] Yuta just came in. I've known him for a minute. Bryan Pillman Jr. of course, and his partner, Griff [Garrison]. A lot of guys in the Dark Order are the future, especially of AEW.
"I don't like the kid. What's his name? MJF? He's an assh--e. He hasn't messed with me yet. I have known him for a very long time and he knows how I am. I'll give the devil his due. He is definitely the future of AEW.
"You have a bunch of young, hungry guys there and in all of wrestling. Every promotion has a bunch of guys who are ready to go. I think the pandemic made these guys hungrier because they saw that everything can be taken away in a heartbeat. Wrestling is in good hands.
"My man Curt Stallion, who just got let go. When he gets his shot, he will knock it out of the park. There are so many good dudes. Joshua Bishop in AIW up in Cleveland. He's an animal. I don't want to keep naming people because I know I'm going to leave somebody out and I am going to feel bad. Charli Evans out in Australia, Marti Belle, Allysin Kay, they're great."
The Sign Eddie Kingston Movement
For years, Kingston was cited by many in wrestling journalism as one of the greatest talents not signed to a major promotion. His promo skills were considered among the best in the industry and his in-ring work was violent and realistic.
Ryan Dilbert wrote a piece for Voices of Wrestling last year looking at what makes him so special, but how did Kingston feel when he realized he had developed a cult following?
"Surprising is the first word that comes into my head. The second word is humbling," he said. "I just love doing this, and I didn't want to do anything else. I didn't want to pitch in Yankee Stadium. I didn't want to throw the game-winning pass at the Super Bowl. All I wanted to do was be a pro wrestler. It's humbling because I'm just me. I don't think I'm special or anything like that. My friends in New York would make fun of me if I get recognized by a fan."
The New Yorker became so popular that an online movement began in order to urge one of the major companies to sign him to a contract. Kingston is grateful for the love he has gotten from the fans but also has enough self-awareness to concede he has been his own worst enemy at times.
"To the people who said I never got a fair shake, I want to say thank you," he said. "But I messed up a lot. For instance, telling a certain promoter to f--k off or telling one of those boys who has stroke that he's an assh--e.
"A close friend of mine once said: 'We were all just waiting for you to get out of your own way.' So it wasn't me not getting a fair shake, it was me not letting myself get a fair shake. I don't like blaming other people for anything. I know me and I know how I am."
Almost Retiring Before AEW
Kingston is having the time of his life in AEW, but before signing with the company in July 2020, he was seriously thinking about hanging up his boots for good.
"I thought I was going to hang it up right before the pandemic," he said. "I was going to do another year or two so my nephew could see me wrestle and then walk away. I've got my welders' license. I was looking up places in Alaska. I was going to get a cheap phone, give my family the number and just disappear.
"This is the way I look at pro wrestling: We can all have this big celebration of somebody leaving, but they will forget you next week. The show goes on. We're all cogs and when we get old and rusted, you replace us with a new cog. It's not nasty, it's just part of the business."
Since signing with AEW, Kingston has been a major player. He has been in the hunt for the world and tag titles, worked several main events and led a small stable of close friends. It's bizarre to think the mainstream wrestling audience almost didn't get to see him reach this level of success.
Reviewing 'Black Widow'
The pandemic changed a lot for pro wrestlers. For many, this was the first time they had been able to sit at home for more than two days in a row in many years. This led to a lot of them having more free time to enjoy other forms of entertainment.
To close out the interview, we thought it would be fun to ask Kingston to review a recent movie he has seen, Marvel's Black Widow.
"It was a little late for it," he said. "If this movie came out after Civil War, it would have blown the roof off the place. It was a great movie, the action scenes were nuts, but they should have done this movie before, spoiler alert, her death in Endgame."