Many people expected Kofi Kingston to just be a transitional WWE Champion but he’s going on four months with the title around his waist. However, that time frame is nothing compared to the 11 years it took Kingston to reach that position.
He talked about not getting discouraged with his previous gimmicks before joining New Day when he was a guest on Lilian Garcia’s podcast.
“There’s a lot of people who think that I am happy all the time. I go through it just like anyone else. I’ve had a lot of starts and stops as far as my career is concerned, but I think what I am able to do is to put things into perspective. Number one, having this job to me is this is everything that I have ever wanted to do,” said Kingston.
He then talked about working at Staples right out of college which is a job he hated. Kingston couldn’t believe that this was going to be the rest of his life but that experience helps him put things in perspective.
“I’ve been on the other side where I know that a bad day at WWE beats the best day at Staples. It works for some people about having that office lifestyle and having a cubicle and having that predictability knowing what you are going to do, awesome, but to me I needed to be outdoors,” said Kingston. “I always had that in the back of my mind, and like I said before, I learned a long time ago I cannot control everything.
“When you [Lilian Garcia] talk about the starts and the stops, I was in the Money in the Bank match on the 25th anniversary at WrestleMania and was able to do some incredible things that had never been done before, especially when you think about The Hardys, Edge & Christian and The Dudleys, who set the bar so high to be able to do things that had never been seen before was awesome. I came through Gorilla and received a standing ovation talking about how amazing it was and I was on Cloud Nine going through the after-WrestleMania party with everybody shaking hands and then Monday Night Raw the very next night I wasn’t booked. I thought I had done a good job so I was curious if I had done something wrong.”
Kingston then brought up his feud with Randy Orton which included a match at Madison Square Garden. Kingston thought the rivalry was going to elevate him, but over time his push slowly went away and he realized that he can only control what he can control.
“I have always told myself that once this no longer becomes fun then I will walk away. I’ve seen it a lot of times where people would come to work and be discouraged and rightfully so. You put your life into this and it becomes your dream, but all of a sudden you are asked to do something you know you are above and you know you can do more, and you are not getting the opportunities you think you deserve. But like I said I think it really helps to realize that you don’t have any control where sometimes things don’t make any sense, but it’s not for you to make sense out of them, it’s up to us to go out and do the best that we can with what we are given and that is all we can do,” stated Kingston.
“You literally can’t do any more than your best so that was always my attitude and that is still my attitude, which is to go out there and give it my best every single night. I always said that if I ended up being released or fired it wasn’t going to be because of something I did, it wasn’t going to be because of a choice I make, or that I didn’t work hard enough or do a good enough job, that wasn’t going to be the reason so that I wouldn’t have any regrets being here and doing this. That is the attitude that I have. I am definitely happy to be there and go out and try to steal the show every night.”
Kingston’s frustration reached an all-time high before The New Day was formed. He talked about just how bad things had gotten and how monotonous of a job wrestling had become.
“When they [Xavier Woods/Big E] approached me about being in this three-man group I was kind of at the point in my career, I don’t want to say that I was ready to call it quits, but I was definitely on the verge of not having fun. I was the guy that was coming out and be happy, go-lucky, put on a great match and do some cool moves and then probably lose. Wash, rinse and repeat for two years and I was kind of at the end of my ropes,” revealed Kingston. “I was trying everything that I could right now but where does it go from here? Do I want to keep doing this or do I want to maybe do something else? I don’t know, but Woods and E had approached me about doing this and it was the perfect time. It was going to be a group of three guys who were not pleased with where they were with the company, which was a shoot for all of us.”
The New Day started coming up with gimmicks for their group but they were constantly being rejected by Vince McMahon who eventually came up with the positivity-preacher idea. Kingston says that they all knew the gimmick wouldn’t go over with the fans but they went along with it any ways.
“Sure enough, the first couple of weeks people were with us and then the third week people were gone and told us that we sucked. It was awesome to invoke emotion from people but at the same time we took it personally because we did work so hard to get to that point and to have someone tell you that you suck, wow! People are supposed to come and react, that is what you are supposed to do but that definitely did light a spark in us because people have no idea what we had gone through to get to that spot,” stated Kingston. “And if Vince McMahon hears it and he may think that people are rejecting us and can cut the cord on us and be gone and people would have no idea how hard it took for us to get there and to have your career live and die with the people is a very real thing. We wanted to be bad guys anyway so we embraced it so it worked in our favor. We were very different kind of bad guys where we were able to be hypocrites so it was fun.”
Now a sage veteran in WWE, Kingston talked about now serving as a mentor to other Superstars who could be in similar positions to what he was in.
“I am always down to give advice because I was always lucky to have had people pull me aside and give me advice. You [Lilian Garcia] said that times are different now, compared to before I got there, but nowadays people are all open and willing to help. No one ever really messed with me. Everyone was cool and took me under their wing, but there were some people who went out of their way to give people a hard time and I never understood that because we are all in this together and we are all going through the same struggles,” said Kingston.
“We are all away from our families and are away from our homes and on the road and on long European tours together so in a way we are all family. So to not help each other never made sense to me, so the attitude now is to go out and to help people because sometimes you need to hear from someone who has been in that situation and we provide senses of hope for people who watch the product. But also, that I feel like even with my story, especially that it took so long to get to this point people look at it like, oh my gosh, okay, it can be done as long as you grind and do the best that you can it can still happen even if it took 11 years to get there.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Chasing Glory with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.