Facts About Eddie Kingston Only Hardcore Fans Know

Eddie Kingston is an everyman, and yet there's nobody quite like him. He's certainly not the most athletic wrestler in AEW, and while he is a veteran with a variety of experience and expertise, few would name him their favorite in-ring technician either. By nature, Eddie's a brawler, and one of the best talkers in pro wrestling today. Every promo out of Eddie Kingston's mouth is pure poetry in a New York dialect. His style and vibe has been compared to everything from a Waffle House line cook to Teddy from "Bob's Burgers," to the Thing from Marvel Comics. None of that quite captures what's magical about the guy.

Since his arrival in 2020, he's emerged as one of the most beloved stars in All Elite Wrestling. It's a well-deserved emergence for Kingston, who's been wrestling for two decades, mostly in independent promotions. Eddie didn't believe he'd make it to where he is, but his fans would find it hard to imagine the current wrestling landscape without him. So let's take a look at the life and career of Eddie Kingston, and try and gain some perspective on how he got to where he is, and why it took so long.

He really is that tough New York guy from Yonkers

As you probably know if you've listened to him talk for at least a couple of minutes, Eddie Kingston is from New York. He was born to an Irish dad and Puerto Rican mom in the Bronx, and the family later moved out to Yonkers. According to Kingston himself, his mixed ethnicity made him a target from an early age, which led him down the path to violence. "I learned about racism in like second grade," Kingston told the New York Post. "By sixth, seventh grade I was like well, next person who makes fun of me I'm gonna start swinging. As I got older as a teenager and even early 20s ... I was so angry and I was just known as the fighter of the neighborhood."

Kingston also suffered from what he now understands are treatable mental health conditions such as depression, but he recalled to The Players' Tribune that back then, "I was trying to be such a hard-a** that I didn't want to hear about no mental health, no therapists, no feelings." All he understood about himself as a youth is that he always seemed to be either sad or angry, and fighting felt like a release for those feelings, even though it got him in trouble constantly. In fact, he was expelled from high school for fighting and became an ironworker, like his father and other men in his family.

An unapologetic mama's boy

It's clear that one bright spot in Eddie's childhood was his mother, with whom he remains close. He frequently talks about her in promos and interviews, and it's not just an effort to play into stereotypes of the good Catholic boy from New York. He trusts her advice above all others, such as when she told him to sign with AEW as a wrestler, rather than taking a coaching job at WWE. "My mother made the call," he told Sports Illustrated. "She said I would be happier in AEW than WWE, so I said, 'OK, that's where I'll go.' You have to be good to your mother; she gave you life. No one will ever know me better than my mother, so I listened to her."

Stereotype or not, he genuinely loves and respects his mother, and when he talks about winning a championship, he's doing it for her. As he said to the New York Post, "when I win the world title it's gonna mean more, too, because I can go to my mother and tell her, 'I'm sorry I never gave you a grandkid, Mom. Mom, I'm sorry I never got married, I'm sorry I put you through all this stuff, but look I did it for this.' And that's gonna mean so much to me that I can explain to her, this is why I did all the stuff I did. It was for this."

He credits pro-wrestling tape trading with saving his life

Eddie recalled in The Players' Tribune that back when he was still a troubled, violent kid in the Bronx, "On Fridays, if I made it through the week without trying to choke anybody out in my elementary school, my reward was Chinese food and a wrestling tape." Back then, before Blockbuster had driven out mom and pop video stores (only to eventually be driven out by streaming), there was no telling what kind of unique inventory a little shop like the Bronx's VideoVision might have, so there was no predicting what Eddie's mom might bring home.

Kingston says his life was changed by a tape called "Memphis' Bloodiest Brawls," which stretched his understanding of wrestling to include extensive blood, concession stand fights, and even Jerry Lawler getting run over by a car. It was the first time Eddie Kingston realized that the violence and chaos he felt swirling inside of him could be put to a better use than petty fights that got him in trouble at school. It could be channeled into storytelling, into entertainment, into something that might even be considered ... art?

Eddie got deep into tape trading, which back in the 1990s was the only way to see a lot of obscure and international wrestling. Trading VHS tapes with strangers with a risky endeavor, but it led to getting his hands on unforgettable gems, like the legendary match between Mitsuharu Misawa and Toshiaki Kawada of All Japan Pro Wrestling in June of 1994, a match that stays with him to this day. "It was so violent, so real. I'm watching this match in our little apartment in Yonkers, and I can't even sit down. I watch it now, to this day, and I can't sit down. I've probably seen June '94 more than 1,000 times — hand to God."

He trained and debuted with Chikara Pro Wrestling

After getting kicked out of high school and being a full-time ironworker for just long enough to realize he didn't want that to be the rest of his life, Eddie Kingston decided to go to wrestling school. He initially trained at Kevin Knight's school in New Jersey. However, Kingston and Knight didn't get along, and Eddie's skills at smoothing over conflicts hadn't increased all that much since school. Kingston claimed in a shoot interview Knight was dismissive of Japanese wrestling, which didn't sit well with the kid so inspired by that Misawa/Kawada tape.

Kingston and his friend BlackJack Marciano were kicked out of Knight's school, and went to the Chikara Wrestle Factory, owned and run by Mike Quackenbush, an indie wrestler who Eddie respected. Quackenbush was just in the process of building Chikara into a full-blown wrestling promotion in addition to the school, and after his training was complete, Eddie Kingston made his in-ring debut at Chikara Pro Wrestling's seventh event on October 12, 2002. He and BlackJack Marciano debuted as a tag team, the Wild Cards. Although Eddie would work for countless indie promotions over the next eighteen years, the now-defunct Chikara would remain something of a home promotion for him.

Chikara made its name running all-ages shows with cartoon-like characters. The roster was full of guys like Hallowicked (a Jack-o-lantern-masked goth luchador), Ultra-Mantis Black (a Tokusatsu-inspired insectoid supervillain), and the Colony (an ant-themed trio). But Eddie was just Eddie. Just a working class guy from the Bronx who loves two things: his mother and kicking butt.

A short reign at IWA Mid-South

In addition to their work in Chikara, the Wild Cards debuted for Independent Wrestling Association Mid-South in 2003. Kingston and Marciano soon became the Indiana-based promotion's tag team champs, successfully defending the IWA Mid-South Tag Team Titles several times before an injury forced BlackJack to retire in 2004. Eddie Kingston became a singles wrestler, feuding with guys like Ian Rotten and Chris Hero. Kingston's no-nonsense style was a good fit for the promotion, and he began to make a name for himself as part of a promising new class of indie wrestlers, alongside guys like Hero, Jon Moxley, and Claudio Castagnoli. Kingston defeated Hero in a particularly memorable Last Man Standing match on Night Two of the 2007 Ted Petty Invitational, which is still remembered as an indie wrestling classic.

Kingston became IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Champion on December 7, 2007, by winning a four-way elimination match against Chris Hero, Mike Quackenbush, and Chuck Taylor. Unfortunately, Eddie's reign would be short-lived. Kingston no-showed an IWA Mid-South event on April 11, 2008, leading promoter Ian Rotten to strip him of the championship. Eddie would nevertheless return to IWA Mid-South to make it to the quarter-finals of the 2008 Ted Petty Invitational tournament, but he never again came close to the Heavyweight Championship.

Causing Trouble in Combat Zone Wrestling

Eddie Kingston debuted for the famously violent Combat Zone Wrestling in 2004, and soon became an enforcer and mouthpiece for the BLKOUT faction. In 2006 he and another BLKOUT member, Joker, won the CZW World Tag Team Championship, defeating Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli, aka the Kings of Wrestling. Seven months later, after a lengthy feud, Kingston defeated Hero in singles competition to win the CZW World Heavyweight Championship. Having won the top belt, BLKOUT vacated the Tag Team Titles, leading to the Kings of Wrestling regaining them in a tournament, only to be attacked by BLKOUT afterwards. Eddie successfully defended the World Heavyweight Title against Justice Pain, although Chris Hero interfered and accidentally hit Pain. That led to a three-way elimination match between Kingston, Pain, and Hero, in which Pain won the title after Kingston legitimately broke his ankle.

Chris Hero challenged Eddie Kingston to a Loser Leaves Town Match upon his return. Strangely, Kingston won the match, but was publicly fired in the ring immediately afterward by CZW owner John Zandig, who cited "ongoing misconduct." Kingston would return to CZW almost a year later to fight for the CZW World Heavyweight Championship in a six-way match with Nick Gage, Danny Havoc, Devon Moore, Drake Younger, Eddie Kingston and Ruckus. In 2009, he came back to CZW again to face Younger one-on-one for the title in a No Rope Barbed Wire Deathmatch. Younger won, but he and Eddie became allies, going on to win the CZW World Tag Team Championship in 2010. Later that year, they were stripped of the belts after Eddie threw his down and quit the company.

Why Eddie hates Claudio

Across all of these indie wrestling promotions in the early 2000s, Eddie Kingston kept encountering Claudio Castagnoli. The Swiss wrestler who would later be known in WWE as Cesaro was something of an opposite number to Kingston: Whereas Eddie was a no-frills blue-collar brawler from New York, Claudio was a highly educated technical wrestler from continental Europe.

Their epic and still-unresolved feud happened primarily in Chikara, and really got going in 2009. They fought three times, trading wins and then meeting up for the rubber match at Chikara's 2009 season finale. It was an "I Respect You" match, with the loser obligated to make a public statement of respect for the winner. Claudio won, but Eddie refused to give him any respect, maintaining that only he knew Claudio's true nature. Later that same night, Eddie was vindicated when Claudio turned heel to form a villainous new faction known as the Bruderschaft des Kreuzes, or BDK for short.

A newly heroic Kingston pursued Castagnoli throughout 2010, as the BDK ran roughshod over Chikara. Finally, after an intense brawl broke out between them, the match was made: Eddie and Claudio would face off in March 2011. Claudio clearly had no intention of playing fair, with the BDK's own pet referee Derek Sabato officiating the match. Other members of the BDK interfered as well, but Eddie refused to stay down. After Sabato slow-counted a pin attempt, Eddie head-butted the corrupt ref, who was then replaced by the incorruptible Bryce Remsburg. Eddie came close to winning, but further cheating from the BDK led to a dirty victory for Castagnoli.

Obviously this was all set up for Eddie Kingston to have his revenge, but Claudio Castagnoli signed with WWE before that could happen. Now, more than a decade later, both men are signed to AEW and it's probably just a matter of time before until — a world-class grudge-holder — finds his moment to go after Claudio.

He was Chikara Grand Champion in the company's darkest timeline

Eddie Kingston was the first Chikara Grand Champion, winning the promotion's top title in a round robin tournament called the 12 Large Summit in 2011. Over the next year and a half, Kingston successfully defended the title 13 times, against challengers including Brodie Lee, Kevin Steen, and Tadasuke. On June 2, 2013, at Aniversario: Never Compromise, Eddie was defending his championship against another Chikara veteran, Icarus, and it wasn't going well for the champ. Just as Icarus had a submission hold locked in and it looked like Eddie was about to lose, a heel group called Condor Security rushed in, stopped the match, and shut the show down. At least according to storyline, Chikara was no more. The new owners had shut it down.

After a year of online clues, scavenger hunts, and appearances in other promotions, Chikara was officially resurrected on May 25, 2014, for the event "You Only Live Twice." Once again, Icarus faced Eddie Kingston for the Grand Championship in the main event. After losing the belt to Icarus, Eddie was so distraught that he turned his back on the Chikara roster and joined the Flood, the heel faction connected to those forces that had shut the company down for a year. That September, however, at King of Trios (Chikara's biggest annual event), Kingston turned on the Flood and helped the heroes of Chikara drive the villains out.

Kingston's indie work over the years

Like the other top indie wrestlers of his generation, Eddie Kingston also made appearances at Ring of Honor, although he was never really a top guy there. In his early appearances he was representing his BLKOUT faction from CZW, and he also showed up with his Chikara Grand Championship in 2012 to set up a match with Kevin Steen. In 2013, Kingston and his friend Homicide became a tag team and proved themselves a force to be reckoned with, eventually challenging reDragon for the ROH World Tag Team Championship at Final Battle 2013 in December, but reDragon retained.

From 2007 to 2010, Eddie Kingston was a regular in Jersey All Pro Wrestling. In February 2009, he defeated Bandido Jr. to win the JAPW New Jersey State Heavyweight Title, which he would hold for just over two months before dropping it to Archadia. 

Kingston debuted at Pro Wrestling Guerrilla in 2007, as Human Tornado's surprise tag team partner. It turns out that Tornado's opponent Chris Hero had also chosen Eddie as his partner, but Eddie picked Human Tornado. The pair lost a handicap match to Hero after Claudio Castagnoli interfered, but then Kingston, Tornado, and Castagnoli all beat up Hero together, becoming a faction in the process. Ironically two fierce enemies in other promotions would be close allied in PWG, with Kingston and Castagnoli even pursuing the PWG Tag Team Titles for a bit, although the title match never happened.

Eddie Kingston also made appearances in Westside Xtreme Wrestling over the years, beginning in 2004 when the Wild Cards were part of a Chikara exhibition match. Although he wasn't part of many ongoing storylines in wXw, he made memorable appearances at various events, notably wrestling WALTER (the Austrian wrestler who would one day be called Gunther) at a 2010 show.

To be clear, we're still only beginning to scratch the surface of all the indie wrestling promotions Eddie Kingston worked with in his long career, but at least you've got a sense of where he made the most impact.

A purveyor of violence in Impact Wrestling

In 2016, Eddie Kingston debuted in Impact Wrestling as a member of the Death Crew Council, alongside Bram and James Storm. Kingston and Bram primarily worked as a tag team during this run, which fizzled out in the spring of 2017 after Bram and Eddie kicked Storm out of the faction. Storm responded by laying out both men with superkicks, which was apparently enough put an end to the DCC.

Eddie returned in 2018 under the shortened named King, taking over the Latin American Exchange faction after its original leader Konnan had been mysteriously attacked. King led Santana and Ortiz to renewed glory and the Impact Tag Team Championship, but his behavior was more than a little suspicious. Sure enough, it turned out that King was behind the attack on Konnan himself, and he turned on Santana and Ortiz as well, teaming up with former LAX members Hernandez and Homicide as the OGz. After a long feud in which the OGz ran over a child in LAX's neighborhood, LAX got a decisive win at Bound for Glory 2018, after which King and OGz disappeared.

How Eddie got AEW's attention

In 2019, around the same time AEW was getting started, Eddie Kingston was working for Billy Corgan's National Wrestling Alliance, which launched a YouTube show called NWA Powerrr. Kingston was once again teaming with Homicide as Outlaw Inc. and reminding everyone how good he'd always been on the mic.

Then 2020 came, and the COVID-19 pandemic. NWA shut down production. All the indie promotions Eddie was still wrestling for cancelled their shows. Like most indie wrestlers in that moment, Eddie seemed to be pretty much out of luck. As he claimed in The Players' Tribune, he was selling off his gear and in danger of losing his house. Then he got invited to wrestle for the New Jersey promotion ICW No Holds Barred, who managed to put together a relatively COVID-safe show by setting up a ring in a parking lot and letting people sit in or on their cars. Eddie says he genuinely expected it to be the last match he'd ever work.

So after defeating Brett Ison, Eddie grabbed a mic and went for broke. Staring down the camera that was streaming the event on IWTV, Eddie cut an improvised promo calling out NWA's Nick Aldis, New Japan Pro Wrestling's Zack Sabre Jr., and AEW's Cody Rhodes. NWA and NJPW weren't running shows at the time, of course, but AEW was. They shot live TV throughout the pandemic at Daily's Place in Jacksonville, FL. And that's where Eddie Kingston ended up, just a short time after his ICW appearance, when AEW invited him to wrestle Cody Rhodes after seeing his promo.

Finally becoming a star

Eddie Kingston was originally just a guest star in AEW — one of many challengers to go up against Cody Rhodes for the TNT Championship during his reign as the ultimate fighting champion. But once the AEW audience had seen Eddie work, and hear him talk, they refused to let him go. Kingston himself was surprised to learn that "#SIGNEDDIEKINGSTON" was trending on Twitter. Never one to deny the fans, AEW owner Tony Khan quickly signed Eddie to a full-time contract.

Since arriving in AEW back in 2020, Kingston has gone from heel to babyface. He's drawn on his real friendships with Jon Moxley, Santana, and Ortiz, as well as his possibly-just-as-real dislike of CM Punk and Bryan Danielson. He's had a nearly interminable feud with Chris Jericho, and only just begun to hint at his continued antipathy toward Claudio Castagnoli.

But whatever he's doing from week to week, Eddie Kingston continues to establish himself as one of AEW's major stars, and one of the best promos in pro wrestling today. He fought for a long, long time to get to where he is — a mainstream star of a nationwide wrestling promotion — and it feels like a victory to everyone who's been following his career for the past two decades.

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