Since answering Cody's TNT Title Open Challenge in July, Eddie Kingston has been a mainstay of AEW programming. Kingston grasped fans' attention by cutting smooth and ruthless promos, masterfully blurring the lines of reality and fiction with every word he speaks. Speaking on Busted Open w/ Bully Ray, Kingston says the pride he infuses his promos with are what make them memorable.
"It feels good, but the ego in me goes, 'Yeah, I know I've been the best'. When people hear that, they think I'm an egomaniac," Kingston said. "You need a little bit of an ego to be in this business. I'm not going to sit here and tell you Jon [Moxley], Kenny [Omega], Hangman [Adam Page] are better than me. No one is better than me - that's the attitude I have to have. If I'm going to survive and survive as long as I have in wrestling, I have to believe I'm the best.
"I have to believe I'm the best promo guy and I'm the best in the ring. The day that I wake up and I believe I can't kick somebody's a-- is the day I don't get up. My father taught me that as a young man. Every man bleeds, every man can get beat up. So if I wake up one day and I say to myself, 'Well I can't kick nobody's a--', then I'm just not going to get up on my bed."
As an 18-year wrestling veteran, Kingston knows how hard work can transition to opportunity. Growing up, Kingston says seeing his father work long hours to provide for his family molded him into the man he is today.
"I saw my father bust his a-- in the union his whole life," Kingston said. "I've seen my father go hungry, but my brother and mom never went hungry. I saw my father do overtime after overtime just to make sure we were good and the family was safe. I come from that background, so if you love something-- my dad didn't love his job. He loved his family, so he did what he had to do.
"I love pro wrestling, so I'm going to do what I have to do. If people enjoy it and want to get behind me, cool, that's great. If they don't, then move out the way. I don't have time or energy for people trying to bring me down. People go, 'Where have you been for the past 18 years?' I let other people bring me down and I let myself bring me down, so I'm going to keep doing my thing. If you want to join the bandwagon and be an Eddie Kingston stan, awesome, good for you. Welcome. If you don't, move, move or I move you, because for 18 years, I've stopped myself and I wasted my energy and I let other people bring me down. No more. Especially during this pandemic. I need to eat."
Kingston incorporates a lot of personal anecdotes in his promos. Due to the nature of wrestling, many have written off Kingston's stories as just being apart of his character, but for 'The Mad King,' those struggles are actually his reality.
"People don't understand," Kingston said. "They think it was a gimmick. I was broke; I was going to sell my house in Orlando and go back to live with my mother in New York at 38 years old. Do you think that feels good? Do you think any woman is going to want to talk to me after that? Absolutely not. I stayed there and I sold my gear. I sold all the 8x10's and I sold shirts. I never sell shirts. I did anything to stay in wrestling because I love this. Again, I'm going to do this regardless. Whether you are with me or you're not, I'm going to do this regardless."
One of the best things AEW has going is it's roster of great wrestling minds. From retired legends like Arn Anderson to tenured veterans like Billy Gunn, there is no shortage of pro wrestling wisdom in the AEW locker room. Kingston revealed that there's a few people he goes to for advice.
"First person is Taz," Kingston said. "For those who don't know, I was a huge ECW mark. If it wasn't for ECW, I wouldn't be in pro wrestling right now. As I was over it at the time, Bret Hart was a legit shooter. How can he lose to Shawn Michaels? I'm done.
"I was also becoming a teenager, so I don't [like] any of the cartoon stuff. Here comes ECW with half-naked women, guys bleeding everywhere beating each other up. I said, 'Well, I'm into this. I'm loving the characters I can relate to.' So yeah, Taz is definitely one of the first people I go to, and of course you got Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard there. You have Jake Roberts. How do you not try to pick his brain for psychology reasons, and how to tap into people and really get people by the throat? There's so many veterans. It's ridiculous how many fans there are. I'm unbelievably blessed."
Though he main evented AEW's Full Gear pay-per-view last weekend, the journey to the top of the card was far from easy. Kingston said he has all the confidence he needs now, but it wasn't always like that.
"There were moments where I just went, 'Welp, I'm just not good enough. It is what it is'. Now, as we get closer and the minutes go by, my confidence builds up and I go, 'I knew I was going to be here. I knew at some point someone would take a chance on me' - I used to say that earlier in my career. All I need is a chance, just give me a chance and let me go. If you like it, great. If you don't, it is what it is. At least you gave me a chance."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Busted Open w/ Bully Ray with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Mehdy Labriny contributed to this article.