WWE Champion Kofi Kingston recently spoke with talkSPORT about WWE Hall of Famers like Jim Ross and "Superstar" Billy Graham being so critical. Kofi was asked about JR recently suggesting that Kofi can't come to the ring "hopping and dancing" and that he needs a more "serious demeanor" to be WWE Champion, as well as Graham's recent comments on Kofi needing to take steroids because he's too small to be the top champion in the company.
"The New Day has been the New Day because what we have done. We can be entertaining but then we can get serious, too. I think it's awesome that after all these years, guys like JR, guys like Superstar Billy Graham can still be fans," Kofi said. "Superstar Billy Graham is almost like Superfan Billy Graham right now! Everyone has the right to have their opinion, you know what I'm saying? And that's great. They're not talking to me, they're talking about me – as they should be because I'm the champ – so I welcome all criticism and opinions, I think it's great. For me personally, I'm going to continue to do what I do in the ring. I didn't need their help or advice getting to this point and I certainly don't need it now, to tell me how to be a champion.
"What I'm trying to do is reinvent what the face of a champion looks like. I'm out there trying to represent for the people who question whether they can become a champion or not. I want guys like Ali, guys like Gentlemen Jack [Gallagher] or guys like Buddy Murphy; just guys who are looking at the screen and they're wondering if they can become champion because they're too small, or too this or too that, or not serious enough – I want to be living proof for everybody out there, number one in the locker-room, and then also for fans and people who have been told that they can't do something in life. I want to be the guy that they can look to and believe that they can. So that's what I'm focused on and that's what I'm doing this for.
"As far as the other guys that are critical go, their opinions don't affect me at all in the slightest. I have a bigger mission, it's a bigger picture type of thing for me. So, again, I welcome all their criticism and feedback and again, I'm glad that guys like JR and other people are still fans of the product after all these years."
Kofi worked with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon in the build to his WrestleMania 35 win over Daniel Bryan with Vince being one of the main antagonist in the storyline. Kofi said Vince was all smiles when he returned backstage to the Gorilla Position after the big win at the biggest show of the year.
"The whole thing was amazing, man," Kofi said. "It was almost a blur. So when we came back through the curtain, we got to walk almost down the side of the ramp and there was a whole bunch of fans there and just seeing the happiness in peoples faces and my family was just in the ring, my kids – my son jumped up to the second rope and he got the t-shirt out and he's throwing it into the crowd! – like, it was just surreal. It was a dream. And then walking through the curtain and back up to gorilla, everybody in gorilla was on their feet clapping. Vince had a huge smile on his face. Big, big hugs in there, you know?
"I'm just so proud to be champion and to have the support of my peers and my fans. This whole eleven-year journey has been, not just an eleven-year journey for me, but for all the people that have followed me throughout these years. After Elimination Chamber, I realized that the WWE Universe wanted this as much as I did and I'm getting kind of choked up even talking about it right now! It is awesome to have that support and adulation of the people that I do this for. I'll have to watch the tapes back, but there was just so many people right there when I came back. I remember [Tyler] Breeze being right there. Rusev was right there. God, everybody was right there and just so happy for me. That means the world to me. It was just an amazing experience, I'll never forget it."
Kofi will defend his title against Kevin Owens at WWE Money In the Bank on May 19 but he said he will be watching the men's MITB Ladder Match closely as he's interested to see what Ricochet does. The match will also feature Randy Orton, Ali, Andrade, WWE Intercontinental Champion Finn Balor, Drew McIntyre, Baron Corbin and Braun Strowman.
"I think the most interesting and, for me, the most exciting person that I want to see [win] and what they're going to do in the Money in the Bank ladder match is Ricochet," Kofi said. "The things that he does in the ring, it's just incredible to watch. He makes it look so easy, he's such an athlete and he's been doing this for a very long time. You never want to blink when he is out there. So when he gets a ladder in there with all those people in there, it's going to be something really special to watch. I feel like everybody in the match deserves to be there and whoever wins will give me an even bigger target on my back!
"But that's what it's all about and I want to face off against the best this industry has to offer. I've been waiting a long time to become champion and I need this reign to be as memorable as it can possibly be. When Money in the Bank rolls around everybody seems to bring their A-game to the table and I'm excited to see what all those guys can do in the ring and any of them would be a worthy opponent."