Kofi Kingston is a future inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame and a legend in the making. The first African-born world champion in WWE history, the 30th Triple Crown Champion and 20th Grand Slam Champion overall. He also holds the record for most days as a Tag Team Champion and has spent the majority of his career as a Face, rather than a heel.
He’s also a genuine, down-to-earth and friendly guy.
When he was in Australia recently, we had the chance to speak to him. We learned about his love for Australia and Melbourne, his thoughts on winning and losing in the WWE, his relationship with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and, of course, video games.
I ask Kingston how he’s finding Melbourne and right away he lights up and excitedly talks about his time here. “I’ve been here several times over the years,” he tells me. “It’s one of my favourite places to come. The people are so friendly and welcoming and the weather is amazing.”
I explain how lucky he is, thanks to Melbourne’s predictably unpredictable weather but he just smiles, shrugs and says, “I’m sitting here with a view of the entire city of Melbourne. Life is good.”
Even when we turn to the topic of his recent performances in the WWE and his loss to Brock Lesnar, Kingston is still upbeat.
“They [his performances] have been great for the most part. The only exception is the debut of SmackDown on Fox where I lasted about 8.5 seconds against Brock Lesnar, where I lost the WWE Championship” he explains. His shock loss to Lesnar ended his 180-day reign as champion but saw him return to Tag Team matches.
Him and his partner, Big E, are now four-time champions and defended their title in a Ladder Match against The Revival.
At Royal Rumble 2020, Kingston entered the Royal Rumble match but was again defeated by Lesnar.
That’s just the way it goes in WWE according to Kingston and he said that even though he lost the championship and it was over in less than 10-seconds, it was riveting. Kingston also says that the return to Fox is a great move for WWE and Smackdown.
We have pyrotechnics back and it makes us all feel a lot bigger. SmackDown, in general, is the biggest it’s ever been and that’s huge because Smackdown was started by The Rock.
Kingston calls Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson a sensation and believes that being a part of his legacy is a true honour.
After leaving the WWE, Johnson became a megastar in his own right, starring in films and TV and soon to be starring in the DCEU film, Black Adam. I asked Kingston about his relationship with Johnson and although he hasn’t spent a great deal of time with him, he remembers some inspiring words Johnson gave him early in his career.
“He’s just one of the coolest guys. The first time I met him was WrestleMania in 2012 at a press conference. He offered some words of advice that helped me early in my career.”
Before Kingston had even joined the WWE he was idolising The Rock.
I used to have a poster of The Rock my wall and every single night I’d run and jump like an antelope then pull myself under the covers, practising wrestling. So, The Rock has definitely had a big impact on my life as a wrestler.
Poster-aside, Kingston told me that once he was filming a promo with The Rock and he said it was “just awesome.” “It’s just great to be able to go toe-to-toe with the greatest microphone performer of all time,” he said.
Moving onto video games, I asked Kingston how involved he was with the WWE 2K franchise and he explained how 2K captures each wrestler in incredible detail.
2K will come through with a truck filled with a million cameras. We’ll sit in a room and they’ll take a video of our faces, mannerisms and micro-expressions. They film our outfits and they really concentrate on the details of our gear which we appreciate because we put so much effort into the details of our gear and our moves.
Seeing that translated into the game makes us feel like it’s all worth it. I think gamers and wrestling fans appreciate it too because you get an accurate portrayal of what they see on television.
Kingston explains that because he’s a gamer, seeing himself in a game never gets old. “We used to spend hours and hours in create-a-character making ourselves and they wouldn’t even look like us.
“Now that we’re actually in the game and getting scanned is so exciting especially as a gamer cause it doesn’t take too much to hype us up. I mean, how cool is it to be able to say you’re actually in a video game.”
Finally, I asked Kingston if he plays as himself when he plays 2K20 and he very quickly assured me that “that’s the only person I use.” He told me “I never pick anybody else. 10 or 11 years in this game business, being put in the game, it never gets old.
“One day I might not be in the game anymore, so as much as I can play as myself, I’ll always do that.” Kingston also plays with other WWE superstars on Xavier Woods’ UpUpDownDown YouTube channel where fans can “see your favourite WWE Superstars playing all types of games, especially 2K.”
You can play as Kofi Kingston in WWE 2K20, watch him on SmackDown or catch him on UpUpDownDown on YouTube.
Thanks to Kofi Kingston for his time.