Today marks Kofi’s 39th birthday. Being part of one of the greatest tag teams in recent times, a former WWE Champion, ten-time WWE tag champion, four-time Intercontinental Champion, and three-time US Champion, Kofi has had many fantastic matches. Here we will look at five that helped shape one of the most popular and lasting stars on WWE’s roster.
First Match For WWE
Kofi had his first match for WWE at an episode of Heat in 2006. In it, he and Tommaso Whitney would end up losing to Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch. The match wasn’t televised, and it would be another two years before his recognised debut, Jan 22, 2008, ECW. Following the Heat match, Kofi would start working with Deep South Wrestling, Florida Championship Wrestling, and Ohio Valley Wrestling, all feeder organisations for WWE. At that time it really didn’t matter where Kofi was performing in terms of talent he was working with, the developmental promotions were stacked with some of today’s biggest names, including Ceasaro, MVP, and Brian Cage. On an episode of EbrointheMorning, Kofi discussed how he got his character. Apparently, before he signed, Kofi was driving to a promo class listening to Damien Marley, turned up to the wrestling school, delivered the promo in a new Jamaican character, and it just stuck. When he was scouted to WWE he was doing the Jamaican Sensation-Kofi Kingston character. The Jamaican side of the persona stuck until an interview with the BBC. After the BBC article exposed his real heritage it didn’t take long for Kofi to drop that part, WWE didn’t miss the mark, with Triple H’s classic “aren’t you supposed to be Jamaican?” in the run-up to Bragging Rights 2009.
WrestleMania 35, Kofi vs. Daniel Bryan
Fully riding the Kofi-Mania wave, the match went back and forth for almost 24 minutes. WWE does moments very well, and this was no exception, with the title on the line WWE had spent time building the programme beforehand. The match constantly toyed with the emotions of all those in attendance, Bryan and Kofi worked really well together. Bryan used the LeBell lock repeatedly to build suspense through the match. When Kofi came back after the Yes kicks the audience started to realise that the end was near, and finishing with Trouble in Paradise saw an outpouring of happiness WWE crowds aren’t allowed enough of. Having Big E and Xavier Wood on hand added to the emotional impact of the ending, both friends looked ecstatic for their stablemate. Kofi had been with the company for 11 years solidly at that point, the match itself was positively received, thought of by many as the match of the night. Kofi went on to hold the title for 180 days successfully defended the title ten times before losing it to Brock Lesnar on an episode of SmackDown. No one thinks Kofi deserved to lose the title that way, but focusing on that blurs what was otherwise a good run. Kofi had fantastic matches with Rollins, Bryan, and Orton, as well as being part of some great multi-man matches, including a triple threat with AJ Styles and Sami Zayn and will go down as a good champion.
The New Day’s First Match
One of the most important modern tag teams, Kofi, alongside Big E and Xavier Woods formed The New Day in mid-2014. Before, all three had been singles competitors. Kofi was already a four-time Intercontinental Champion, three-time US Champion, and three-time tag champion. Big E had held the NXT title for 168 days and had just finished a 167-day stint with the Intercontinental title before The New Day formed. Xavier had the fewest title reigns before joining The New Day having only made it to the main roster a few months before. Xavier had held the TNA Tag Titles though and was formerly one half of the FCW Tag Champions. Their first televised match took place on November 28 2014, the trio took on and defeated Curtis Axel, Heath Slater, and Titus O’Neil. The match only lasted 3:40, watching it back much of what we now expect to see was evident in their debut. Xavier and Kofi worked well athletically, Big E’s power moves were on point, and the team worked so smoothly you’d be forgiven for thinking they’d worked together for years. Before the match had started, a video package played, the three men were in front of a gospel choir and cut the following promo:
Big E: Together we can achieve greatness.
Xavier: Together we can have a new beginning.
Kofi: Together we can overcome all the obstacles that stand in our way.
Big E: Alone I was strong
Xavier: Alone I was smart
Kofi: Alone I could fly
Big E: Together we are stronger
Xavier: Together we are smarter
Kofi: Together we can fly higher
Big E: Together we can create a New Day
The trio would only have to wait until April 2015 for their first belts, winning the titles from Cesaro and Tyson Kidd at the Extreme Rules pay per view, they’d go on to break records for title reigns.
Money In The Bank
Kofi has quite a history with ladder matches, specifically Money In The Bank ladder matches. To date, he has been in seven different Money In The Bank matches, though he is still to capture the briefcase. Money In The Bank 2010 is the pick of the bunch. With Big Show, Kane (who went on to win), Drew McIntyre, Dolph Ziggler, Christian, Cody Rhodes, Matt Hardy, and Kofi. Much of the match focused around Big Show and if he could climb the ladder without breaking it. Kofi had several good spots, from delivering a baseball slide to Kane over a ladder, and DDT’ing Big Show after The Giant grabbed Kofi from half-way up a ladder. The pick of the bunch has to be the Boom drop onto Drew through the announce table. Kofi’s high flying antics have never been in question, but he happily displays them all in this match. No person has been in more MITB matches, only Kane has also been in seven. Kofi spoke to ComicBook.com earlier this year to discuss ladder matches:
“I would say, in order to make a Ladder Match great, I think you have to have diversity in the contenders,” Kingston said. “The story is obviously hugely important. Whatever’s at stake, whatever’s at the top of the ladder. If it’s a championship title, you’re obviously trying to get to that. If it’s a Money in the Bank Ladder Match though, this is particularly what I was talking about as far as having diversity in the competitors. You want to have some guys who are big giant behemoths. You want to have some guys who are speed guys, some guys who are high flyers. You want to have hybrid guys. You want to have guys who use wrestling technique, so they can use the ladder to execute their techniques.
“So I think that to me is where the most exciting Ladder Matches come from because you have a whole bunch of people and you want to see exactly how they’re going to be able to climb the ladder,” Kingston said. “How’s Big Show going to be able to climb the regular ladder? Oh, he’s got his own reinforced ladder up in the ring, you know what I mean? Those are the little things that add so much to a match. Evan Bourne doing a Shooting Star Press off of the ladder, Shelton Benjamin jumping off the top of a ladder doing his thing. You just got to have a lot of people in there that can do different things, and use the Ladder Match and be innovative while they do them.”
If Kofi were to be linked to anyone match type, it would probably be the Royal Rumble. Kofi is tied for second-most entries, with Dolph Ziggler (both who’s first Rumble was 2009) and Goldust, all three have entered 13 times. Only Kane has entered more with 19 appearances. For his 13 appearances, Kofi has never won, nor survived to the final few (closest he got was the final nine in 2001). He hasn’t been helped much with his draw, averaging entering at 14, but also hasn’t made much of that, also averaging being the 14 to leave the match. But this isn’t important when talking about what Kofi brings to the match, what Kofi does have is charisma and plenty of it. He has managed to thrive in a match with as many as 40 other stars all competing for attention. Kofi’s antics are well known at the Rumble by now, WWE has even put together a compilation video of him avoiding disqualification. The best so far was the Rumble in 2013, for the use of both Albert, and JBL’s announce chair to stay in the match. This was also one of his better years, joining the fray number four, and lasting for more than 20 minutes.