It’s been a year since Kofimania happened, and what an interesting year it has been.
Setting his sights on the WWE championship, Kofi Kingston made Wrestlemania 35 his event. With the entire WWE Universe behind him, his lifelong dream finally became a historic reality.
Kofi’s journey to Wrestlemania and becoming champion is one we will never forget. While his title reign may have ended in frustrating fashion, there was a lot to be learned from Kofimania, and what 2019 brought was one of the most beloved WWE superstars of this generation finally reaching the top of the mountain.
Kofimania truly was years in the making.
A veteran, Kingston has, over the years, accomplished so much – from tag team success to iconic Royal Rumble and Money in the Bank performances. During his eleven years with the company, Kingston has been appreciated as one of the most patient, hard-working superstars in the industry, earning a great deal of respect from fans and fellow peers. The career-long build to Kofimania played a huge role in his journey to becoming WWE champion. The story focused on the lifelong battle of being not only the underdog but the forgotten one.
This is a man with championship success in the past, but one who never quite made it to the top, which is something so many watching could relate to. Something rang so true to fans watching this unfold and created a unique involvement from the WWE Universe who had also been following Kingston on his journey for many years. While, of course, it was frustrating to see Kingston go underutilised for so many years, his history played a vital role and made this so much more memorable and special. When we look at talent today, we can see that the WWE can take inspiration from Kingston’s past year.
Take Drew McIntyre as a prime example. This is a man who has had a very similar journey to Kofi. From coming in strong and full of potential, to going unnoticed and fired, to eventually coming back years later as a stronger and better version of himself. What we can take away from Kofimania is the importance of telling that story. It’s great to focus on new talent and up-and-comers, but looking back at history is vital!
For Kofi’s history, the long and tough journey to becoming champion was the driving force behind one of the most passionate Wrestlemania angles and reign as champion. Taking inspiration from Kofi’s journey and how his story could be equally, if not more effective, for our 2020 Royal Rumble winner.
Fans genuinely wanted to see Kingston succeed, and that meant there was a greater draw to the match. Fans were emotionally invested and, as a result, everyone was on the edge of their seats tuning into the action. Being at a viewing party, I can honestly say there was no bigger reaction that night than when Kingston picked up that win. That kind of investment in an angle can be so rare, but is so important. Making the audience care is a big deal, and fans were truly involved and invested.
Taking a look at Kofi’s WWE Championship reign I have to admit that I was surprised to see it was as long as it was. I, like many other fans, worried the WWE wouldn’t give him a strong reign. But he had exactly that and it was more than well deserved. He was actually booked incredibly well and very smartly. Each rivalry had meaning and purpose, and that’s something we don’t really see these days. It reminded fans of the importance of a full-time champion and the effects a fighting titleholder like Kingston can have on the brand, the title and the champion.
During his 180-day reign, he went toe-to-toe with fellow champion Seth Rollins, long-time roster member Dolph Ziggler, powerhouse Samoa Joe and former rival Randy Orton. Each opponent tested Kingston differently and gave his reign deeper meaning and story than any titleholder in a long time.
The key rivalry, however, in Kingston’s championship reign was of course, Randy Orton. Their history played such a role, not only in the storyline but in Kofi’s championship reign. It truly showcased how far Kingston had come – it was personal, and the backstory meant fans were completely invested. This is something that can so rarely be seen, but one thing the WWE must remember and use more is that simple storylines always appear to be the most successful and effective. Remembering history between superstars is vital in giving fans a genuinely exciting angle and getting the best out of storylines today.
We so often see champions pushed into angles that don’t make sense or don’t do the champion’s reign any justice, but for Kingston, what we really had was a meaningful storyline to every single rivalry that meant something on his journey.
When it comes to how he lost the title, it remains one of the most controversial decisions of 2019. After 180 days as champion, Kofi dropped the title on the first FOX-bought episode of Smackdown LIVE, to Brock Lesnar. . .in a matter of seconds.
Of course, this was another excellent display of Lesnar’s power, however, it took a great deal away from Kofi’s reign as champion and his journey.
The booking subtly told Kofi and fans that he may have come a long way and achieved so much but he is nowhere near the star quality of the Beast.
It was, of course, frustrating to see months and years of hardworking gone in a matter of seconds. It would have been so much more effective if the WWE had allowed him to lose the title in a different manner that showed the world how far he had come.
Since losing the WWE Championship, Kingston has remained a fan favourite. He has touched on his historic reign many times since and it’s something fans will never forget. His loss to Lesnar didn’t massively affect Kingston, thankfully. While we haven’t seen him back in the championship picture since, he remains a key figure in the tag team picture and the New Day continue to play vital roles on the blue brand; however, is only mentioning Kofimania and that journey enough?
It would be great to see Kofi involved in more solo angles and for him to revisit that main event scene. We haven’t seen him fade into the background or head in the direction a talent like Jinder Mahal did.
However, following big pushes like this it’s so important that we continue to see talents booked in the right way.
What has been so great since Kofi’s reign as champion ended is the clear role he plays on the roster. His history as champion, and the story of Kofimania, sets up fantastic storylines for the future, including the split of the New Day that can touch on the jealousy Big E or Xavier Woods feel towards Kofi.
Kofimania really did teach the WWE Universe that it’s never too late. It was a learning experience, a journey and an iconic story of this generation, one that will go down in history.
What the WWE must also take away from this is the importance of timing in the ring.
Kofi was given a chance to show what he is truly capable of. He had time in the ring, and he used every single second of it, and that’s what we need to see more of. Give talent time to compete and time to tell their story and you will have an audience griped!
There was also a slow build during those months leading to Wrestlemania, and a simple storyline that was so incredibly well told.
What the WWE management also need to realise is that those simple storylines really are the most effective, and that taking their time to really tell a story and build a connection is so important.
We have seen Kofi Kingston go on an incredible journey and inspire other superstars but just who will follow in his footsteps?
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @TezangiVictoria. Thanks for reading!