WWE is known for making questionable decisions involving their talents, especially on the creative side. This series analyzes where WWE, or, in some cases, the talents themselves dropped the ball and failed in the eyes of us fans. This week I take a look at a person who has been stuck in mid-card purgatory for far too long, Kofi Kingston.
Kofi, like one of my favorite stars, Dutch Mantell, was a self-taught professional wrestler. He worked very briefly in the Indies before being signed by the WWE to a developmental contract, because they were impressed with how well he taught himself. He would stay in WWE’s developmental territories for little over a year. Kofi would begin having vignettes air on ECW in December of 2007, hyping his upcoming debut to the main roster. He was playing the role of a Jamaican wrestler who is always stopping trouble on the beaches of Jamaica. Kofi would make his in ring debut on the January 22, 2008, edition of ECW, defeating local jobber David Owen in the process. This would kick off a large winning streak for Kofi, one that would lead to a feud with “The Gold Standard” Shelton Benjamin. It would be Benjamin who would defeat Kofi in a grudge match on the May 20th edition of ECW. Shortly after, Kofi would be drafted to the Raw brand during the supplemental draft.
After being drafted to Raw, Kofi would pull what was deemed to be a major upset, winning the Intercontinental Championship from Chris Jericho just four nights after being drafted at Night of Champions, thanks to a little help from Shawn Michaels. Kofi would hold the title for about two months before he would drop the title to Santino at SummerSlam in a Winner Takes All match pitting him and Mickie James against Santino and Beth Phoenix. Kofi would then join CM Punk after Unforgiven and help him go after Legacy, which had cost Punk his World Heavyweight Championship. The newly formed team would capture the tag team titles from legacy on the October 27, 2008, Raw. They would hold the titles for a little under two months before losing them to The Miz and John Morrison. Punk and Kingston would continue feuding with the Miz and John Morrison for the rest of the year.
2009 would see Kofi start the year with what looked to be a main event push, as he qualified for the Raw Elimination Chamber. However, luck would not be on his side as Edge would attack him while he was on his way to his pod. Kofi would then qualify the Money in the Bank Ladder match at WrestleMania 25. He would continue to team with Punk until WrestleMania, where Punk would win Money in the Bank. Kofi would flounder for a bit after WrestleMania but would enter the feud of Matt Hardy and MVP, winning the United States championship off of MVP in a fatal four way match at extreme rules on June 7, 2009. This reign would be marked with lots of matches that would see Kofi at impossible odds to come out of the match as the winner, frequently being involved in triple threats, fatal four ways, and even a sixpack challenge match for his title. He would also have a small feud with Big Show during this time, which would see him go over frequently by disqualification. Kofi would soon draw the ire of the Miz and Jack Swagger, with both of them stealing United States Title from Kofi at various points. On the October 5th edition of Raw, The Miz would demand another United States Title shot against Kofi Kingston, even though he had lost in the Triple Threat just the night before at Hell in a Cell. The Miz would capture the title from Kofi, ending his longest title reign at the time.
Soon after his loss to The Miz, Kofi would drop the Jamaican accent and start being billed from Ghana, West Africa. Kofi would become part of Team Raw at Bragging Rights, where he would end up losing the match for his team. He and Cody Rhodes would argue backstage over the loss, and when Legacy would try to interfere into Randy Orton’s WWE championship match, Kofi would come down with a steel chair to fight them off. This would set off Kofi’s new feud with Randy Orton, in which Orton would derail Kofi’s main event push by stating that he was too dangerous to work with and that Kofi didn’t deserve it. Kingston would then become involved in the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber match and in the Money in the Bank Ladder match at WrestleMania 26 but would fall short each time. Kingston would be drafted back to Smackdown after WrestleMania, and would be involved in the Intercontinental Title tournament, which he would win, but would be forced to relinquish the title when Drew McIntyre would become reinstated to Smackdown and his title reinstated to him by orders from Mr. McMahon. This would spark a feud between the two of them that would see Kingston win the Intercontinental Title from McIntyre. Kingston would then mentor Michael McGillicuddy on season two of NXT and enter a feud with Dolph Ziggler over the Intercontinental Title. Kofi would participate in the Money in the Bank match at the first dedicated PPV, but the match would be won by Kane. Kingston would keep battling with Ziggler over the IC Title until Night of Champions, where Ziggler would finally be victorious. Kofi would once again be aimless until December, when he would renew his feud with Ziggler over the Intercontinental Title. Kofi would win the IC Title on the January 7th, 2011, Smackdown. He would hold the Title with a quite unremarkable reign until the March 25th episode of Smackdown, where he would lose it to Wade Barrett. He would then be drafted back to Raw yet again.
Upon being drafted to Raw, Sheamus, who had just been drafted to Smackdown, would attack the leaving Kingston. This would set up a match between the two of them at Extreme Rules for Sheamus’ US Title, which Kingston would win. This would make the US Title exclusive to Raw. Kofi would yet again be embroiled in a feud with Ziggler, and Kofi would lose the US Title at Capitol Punishment to Ziggler. Kofi would continue the feud, which at this time had been going off and on for about a year, but would not be able to recapture the Title. He would then team with Evan Bourne and “Air Boom” would quickly win the Tag Team Championship from Michael McGillicutty and David Otunga. Air Boom would hold the titles for 5 months before losing them at a house show to Primo and Epico on January 15th, 2012. They would get a rematch at Raw the following night, but would come up short. This was due to the fact that Evan Bourne had been suspended under the Wellness Policy. Kofi would briefly return to singles action and participate in the Royal Rumble match, where he would walk on his hands at one point to avoid being eliminated. Kofi would also participate in the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber match, although he would lose.
Kofi would then start teaming with R-Truth to try and win back the Tag Team Titles from Primo and Epico. They fell short on a number of occasions, but would finally achieve their goal on the April 30th episode of Raw. Kofi Kingston and R-Truth would hold the titles for 4 ½ forgettable months before losing them to Team Hell No at Night of Champions. “Boom Truth” would then amicably split, and Kofi would start a feud with The Miz over the IC Title. Kingston would defeat The Miz for the title on the October 18th edition of Main Event. The Miz would continue to try to reclaim his title, but would just come up short. Kofi’s next challenger would be Wade Barrett, and he would be one that Kofi just could not overcome, as Barrett would win the IC Title on the New Year’s Eve edition of Raw. But 2013 has not been a very kind year to Kofi, as he has become nothing more than a glorified jobber, but the true question here is where did he go wrong?
Kofi’s issues are complicated, as there are different issues for each stage of his career. In his early days, WWE was understandably gun-shy with Kofi, as he had very little experience. He only was in developmental for a year, and before that he had only been in 5 matches. While I will say it was impressive that he got signed as quickly as he did, but that also means he did not have the time to truly develop his craft, and it shows in his ring work. Just look at how close he gets with his strikes. It almost seems as if he doesn’t have any depth perception. One of his biggest recent examples was when he nearly concussed Miz with the Trouble in Paradise. He should have never performed the move that close to both the ropes and his opponent. And that brings me to another issue that was raised backstage with Kofi and that is how dangerous he is in the ring. Just take a look at the recent interview with Dr. Amann in WWE Magazine. Kofi was the butt of a running joke that if you had a match with him, then you were going to be seeing the doctors backstage. And if the doctors are saying about him, can you imagine how the other superstars feel or, even worse, The Powers That Be? I imagine his peers don’t have a good opinion of his work. And while this explains how he’s not getting a push from the backstage, that doesn’t explain why he can’t push past a certain level of the crowd reactions. He gains a reaction every time he comes out, which is a good thing, but it’s not the overwhelming reaction that a lot of other superstars receive. And I think it is because of how hot and cold WWE gets on him. Fans do not want to invest into a superstar that they don’t know from one week to the next whether or not they will suddenly be dropped back off WWE’s radar. After looking back on his career, I realized that Kofi has held some sort of mid-card title or been in contention for it for the majority of his main roster career. Maybe Kofi will be one of those guys that will be a perennial mid-card wrestler, never really breaking through to that next level, even though he has the talent to do so. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as many great stars never pushed through the mid-card scene. And while I have no explanation as to why he has jobbed so much this year, other than he has to have some sort heat backstage, I do know that Kofi seems to be the one person that can survive any amount of pressure put on him and come out just as good as he once was.
I want to thank everyone for reading this week’s edition of Where They Go Wrong. Next week’s edition will be one that hits close to my heart, as I will be taking look at the career Drew McIntyre. As always, if you have any suggestions or comments, please leave them below.