Eleven years in WWE. 15 Championship wins. Kofi Kingston is one of the greatest WWE Superstars of all time and after his performances this past week at Elimination Chamber and the gauntlet match on SmackDown, #KofiMania has gripped the WWE Universe.
WWE has decided to ride the wave of enthusiasm by announcing Kofi will get his first-ever one on one World Championship match at FastLane against Daniel Bryan. Kofi's body of work includes 4 Intercontinental Championship reigns, 3 US Title reigns, and 8 tag team titles as a part of various tag teams. This is a perfect week to dive into Kofi's career so far and re-visit Kofi's top ten greatest moments in WWE.
Included in this post are some exclusive videos WWE posted on their YouTube channel with Kofi watching some of his matches back and commenting on the moments. Enjoy!
10. Kofi Kingston vs. Brock Lesnar
Beast in the East 2015
Although this match is a squash, it's significant as the first international WWE broadcast on the WWE Network. This was Brock Lesnar's first match after losing the WWE Title at WrestleMania 31 and his first match in Japan since 2007. Lesnar is a former IWGP champion and well-known in Japan. In this short squash match, the Japanese fans were firmly behind Kofi Kingston instead of their former champion, Lesnar. They chanted Kofi's name and clapped along to "New Day Rocks", showing that fans around the globe believe and support Kofi against all odds.
9. Kofi's First Intercontinental Title Win
Night of Champions 2008
Kofi Kingston was initially introduced on the WWECW brand in 2008, having great matches with Shelton Benjamin. After being drafted to RAW, Kofi's first match was at Night of Champions 2008, Kofi got his first championship win over Chris Jericho with the help of some interference from Shawn Michaels. Kofi hit Trouble in Paradise on Jericho, establishing the finishing move as having true knockout potential on any Superstar at any time. Kofi has been Intercontinental Champion 4 times for a combined 276 days, but this first win over the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time is the most significant.
8. The New Day wins the tag team championships for the first time
Extreme Rules 2015
Entering to the raucous Chicago crowd chanting "New Day Sucks" against the beloved tag team of Tyson Kidd & Cesaro, The New Day was unbowed. Kofi & Big E competed while Woods stood outside cheering on. Kofi worked a different style of offense against Tyson Kidd early, employing more wrestling holds and working body parts. Big E plowed through Kidd & Cesaro to gain momentum. Kidd kicked out of the Big Ending but Kofi was able to finally win the match by rolling up Cesaro in a school boy pin. The crowd wasn't happy with this result, but this match was the start of one of the most dominant runs of any tag team ever.
7. Kofi Boom Drops Randy Orton through a table at Madison Square Garden
RAW November 16th, 2009
After being attacked by Randy Orton for weeks, Orton and Kofi were named captains of their respective Survivor Series teams. Kofi was attacked by Legacy after a great match with Chris Jericho on RAW a few weeks before this MSG show. Kofi got some revenge on the group by damaging the brand new customized NASCAR stock car that Ted DiBiase Jr. & Cody bought for Orton as a gift. It should be noted that Kofi dropped his Jamaican accent during this feud and his character became more true to Kofi's real-life personality. Kingston also added more flashes of aggression in his offense. The go-home RAW before Survivor Series took place at Madison Square Garden with Rowdy Roddy Piper as guest host. Piper was set to wrestle Vince in a match made earlier in the evening, but Randy Orton came out and attacked Piper instead. Kofi Kingston came in for the save and couldn't hold back from beating down Randy Orton. In a triumphant moment, Kofi performed the Boom Drop on Randy Orton through a table in the crowd. Madison Square Garden went crazy for it in one of the best segments of RAW in 2009.
The New Day were still somewhat heels going into this match, but the crowd was starting to warm up to them here. Woods was still the man on the outside for the team carrying his trombone, Francesca. Woods was on commentary for this match while Kofi & Big E defended The New Day's tag team titles. This match was incredibly exciting and violent for the PG era. Kofi took some serious punishment in this match, but climbed the ladder and grabbed the tag titles to win the match for The New Day. The New Day would continue to hold on to the tag team championships for 483 days, setting a new record for the longest tag team championship reign ever.
5. Kofi (c) vs. Cesaro for the US Title
WWE Main Event May 1st, 2013
Kofi defeated Cesaro on RAW for the United States Championship 3 weeks prior to this match in another great contest. This rematch started technical with Cesaro in control eliciting loud "Kofi" chants 2 minutes into the match. Kingston has shined best as a pure babyface character who can take a beating, recover and deliver exhilarating offense. This match is a great example of his work. The crowd is completely invested throughout the match on a show that was regarded as third or fourth-tier show at the time. Kofi's hit the SOS & the Boom Drop on Cesaro only drawing two-counts on the Swiss Superman. Cesaro then focussed his offense on taking away Trouble in Paradise by working Kofi's right leg in creative ways. When Cesaro transitioned away from his focus on Kofi's leg, Kofi was able to recover enough to deliver Trouble In Paradise and win his most brilliant singles match. After the match, Kofi delivered a heartfelt promo about newborn son and his wife to a cheering audience.
4. Kofi pins Orton & CM Punk within seconds of one another
Survivor Series 2009
Kofi seemed like he was in line for a huge push after this match where we saw him work smoothly with William Regal early only to witness the rest of his team get eliminated. As the captain and sole survivor of his team, Kofi had to defeat Randy Orton & CM Punk in succession. Orton tagged in Punk to avoid Kingston, giving us a mini-match between the former tag team champions and real-life road buddies. After hitting a high-flying body splash on Punk, Kofi finished him with the SOS. Randy Orton ran in to attack Kingston, but was met with the knockout power of Trouble in Paradise to the roar of the crowd. Kofi looked like a legitimate main event star.
3. Kofi Walks on his hands to avoid elimination
Royal Rumble 2012
Kofi Kingston has created so many memorable moments in the Royal Rumble that there's a spot in battle royal matches now known as "The Kofi Spot", where a wrestler creatively saves themself from elimination. Kofi's greatest save is this creative use of the "two feet must touch the floor simultaneously" rule of the Royal Rumble. Kofi was tossed out of the ring by the Miz and landed on his hands in a hand-stand. He then hand-walked his way to the steps and re-entered the ring to continue in the Rumble match in the most impressive Rumble save of all time.
2. The Gauntlet Match
SmackDown February 13th, 2019
Mustafa Ali had to pull out of this match due to injury and Kofi Kingston stepped in as his replacement. Kofi began the match against WWE Champion Daniel Bryan. Delivering his best in-ring performance yet, Kingston defeated Daniel Bryan in just over 20 minutes with Trouble In Paradise. Kingston defeated Jeff Hardy with the SOS before facing Samoa Joe. Joe physically dominated Kofi until Kingston used his agility to walk up the turnbuckles and flip over Samoa Joes head, reversing a sleeperhold into a pinning combination. Former WWE Champion, AJ Styles entered the match and waited for Kingston to recover before starting the match. Kingston called out loudly to Styles "I've been waiting 11 years for this!" and the WWE Universe erupted in-person and on social media. Kofi Kingston became a global trending topic on Twitter and a made man in this loss. He competed for over an hour and exited to cheers and the people chanting his name once again after a long break from singles action.
1. Kofi almost wins the WWE Championship
Elimination Chamber February 17th, 2019
After going over an hour in the gauntlet match just 5 days prior on SmackDown, fans didn't know what to expect from Kofi Kingston in this match. Judging by the cheers he received during his entrance: everyone had high hopes. Kofi entered the match third, having to take on Samoa Joe while Daniel Bryan hid on top of his pod. After exchanging blows with Joe, Kofi leapt to the top of Bryan's pod to bring the fight to the champion. The Elimination Chamber was a fantastic showcase for all of Kofi's skills and it didn't hurt that every other man in the match is a future WWE Hall of Famer. After Samoa Joe, Jeff Hardy, & AJ Styles were eliminated, the only man standing between Kofi Kingston and the WWE Champion was Randy Orton. Kofi's late 2009 push ended famously in January 2010 in a match with Randy Orton on RAW where after a botched finish with Legacy running in resulted in Randy Orton screaming "STUPID! STUPID! STUPID!" at Kingston after RKOing him for the win. When faced with his title dreams being ended once again by an RKO, Kofi shoved Orton away and surprised him with Trouble In Paradise to the exploding delight of the Houston crowd. Kofi finally had his title shot and for the second time in 5 days was trending on Twitter. Kofi kicked out of Daniel Bryan's Busaiku Knee Strike, popping the crowd even more. After Kofi lost the match to Bryan, The New Day ran to comfort Kofi. Big E told Kofi "I'm proud of you." while Xavier Woods could be heard saying "I love you." The three friends exited the Chamber in tears while the entire arena chanted "Thank you, Kofi" punctuating the greatest performance of Kofi Kingston's long career.
Some key moments that didn't make the list were in his singles feuds with The Miz, Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus, and his Money In The Bank Matches. In the comments below share some of your favorite Kofi moments that we should revisit.