After 18 long and grueling years in the industry, Eddie Kingston is finally getting his national spotlight.

Kingston challenges Jon Moxley for the AEW World Championship tonight at AEW Full Gear. For Kingston, this opportunity has been a long time coming. Speaking on Busted Open w/ Bully Ray, Kingston reiterated that this match was a result of nearly two decades of hard work.

“People say you deserve this and that, but no one deserves anything in life,” Kingston said. “Everything you do in life, you got to work for. Nothing is handed to you. I worked for this. I prepared for this. This is not surprising to me. This is not making me nervous going into the ring, because I’m prepared for this. We get into this business to be World Champion. To me, it runs 18 years and it doesn’t matter how long it takes. This is the point why we are in this. We’re in this to be champions and not to be the opening act. Not to be a mid-carder. We’re here to be World Champions.”

Around this time last year, Cody Rhodes cut a promo where he referred to AEW as “Ellis Island for a pro wrestler.” In the year since, Tony Khan and company have proved AEW to be just that, bringing in indie sensations that might have never gotten a second look by other promotions. For Kingston, many AEW talent and staff are people he grinded on the indie scene with, and seeing them succeed in AEW puts a smile on his face.

“I just smile, because I never would have thought this for any of them. When we were out there wrestling 30 people in Toronto, Canada, and we had to drive hours to get there, I didn’t think that was going to happen for any of us.

“Seeing everybody there, I just smile. I look at Orange Cassidy and I smile. Chuck Taylor, I smile. Bryce Remsburg, the referee, I was with him from day one where he used to train to be a wrestler too. There’s so many guys. I’ve been on the road with a lot of that roster and to see them make it and do well, it’s a nice little thing. It puts a smile on your face.”

Just last week, the world lost a wrestling legend in Tracy Smothers. Smothers competed in over a dozen promotions, with his wrestling tenure spanning about four decades. Kingston has professed many times how influential Smothers was to his career, and for that reason he said he’s dedicating this match with Moxley to his late friend.

“Tracy Smothers was the first guy to believe in me and my old partner Blackjack. He was the first veteran that we met at the time who actually went out of his way and was so open, honest, and wanted to help us. He just loved pro wrestling. It was insane to me how much Tracy loved pro wrestling and he loved you if you were a wrestler.

“In the beginning, Tracy loved you just because you were a pro wrestler. That was it and he helped so many people. That’s why it hurt so many people to hear about his passing. There are so many guys that I don’t talk to anymore that were texting me, asking me if I was okay about Tracy and that’s how much he meant to people. That’s why I dedicated this match to him. People can like that or hate, that’s not for them. It’s for me and it’s for the people who knew Tracy and loved Tracy. It just adds another layer of me going to kill myself to make this match what it is.”

Being AEW Champion means being one of the faces of the company. The first two AEW Champions have been bonafide superstars that already had name recognition before signing with All Elite Wrestling. While Kingston is just now getting to perform on national stage, he says his ‘my way’ mentality is parallel to what AEW is about.

“Why not? That’s the real question. Why can’t I? I’ve been an outlaw since birth. I’ve never done anything that anyone else was wearing. I’ve done everything my way. For good or bad, I did things my way and that’s what I think AEW was built on.”

“You look at The Bucks, Kenny, and Cody, they did things their way. There was no ‘Oh, we’re going to bend and concede’. No, they did things their way just like I do. So, to me, I’m a prime example of what AEW is about.”

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.

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