WWE SMACKDOWN ON FOX: Kofi Kingston loves the Souths energy and passion as WWE 'SmackDown returns to Alabama

Posted on 11/29/119 by Mike Informer

Kofi Kingston loves the Souths energy and passion as
WWE 'SmackDown returns to Alabama



Posted Nov 28, 2019
By Ben Flanagan | bflanagan@al.com

Who had a bigger year in pro wrestling than Kofi Kingston?

After debuting in World Wrestling Entertainment in 2008 and
grinding for 10 straight years as one of the industrys most
electrifying in-ring performers, he rode a wave of fan
support to a WWE championship match and win at WrestleMania
35.

Born in Ghana, Kingstons remains a fixture in the company
where he is currently in his record fifth reign as SmackDown
Tag Team Champion as a member of the popular group The New
Day (with partners Big E and Xavier Woods).WWEs Friday Night SmackDown returns to Birmingham this
Friday night, where Fox will broadcast live from Legacy
Arena. Currently on the bill, which is subject to change,
are matches between Daniel Bryant and Universal Champion
The Fiend Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns and King Corbin, plus
appearances from SmacDown Womens Champion Bayley,
Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura, Braun Strowman,
The Miz and SmackDown Tag Team Champions The New Day.

Tickets are on sale via Ticketmaster and the Legacy Arena
box office, and cost $15, $25, $35, $50, $70, $95 and $100.

We spoke to Kingston via phone about when he knew New Day
caught on for good, why Big E would be great as a singles
competitor and which young WWE superstar will take the next
step in 2020.

Listen to the entire conversation, or read below.

What do you think was the turning point that really told you
New Day had caught on with people?

Kofi Kingston: Its hard to pinpoint it. I think when we
first came out, no one really knew what to expect from us or
what we were supposed to be, but it wasnt long before they
decided they didnt like us. We always point to Detroit and
Philadelphia when the crowd was chanting how bad we were so
loudly that we decided that we could actually be bad guys.

It was really when people started to feel for us -- we
always say in the wrestling business it doesnt matter if
you cheer or boo, as long as you do something, you always
want to have some emotion attached to whats happening in
the ring. People were definitely emotional when we were in
the ring. I think that was the turning point when we knew we
were a solid group, and then over time we became so good at
being bad guys that people started to cheer for us, and here
we are. We always knew we had a strong connection, and
regardless of what we were given, we were going to be able
to turn it and do something special with it. We didnt know
that it would end up being pancakes, unicorn horns, Booty-Os
and ice cream and the other ridiculous things that we do,
but here are entertaining people, and people like it.

You guys are masters of the meta moment. There was obviously
the country music moment where you said This is not my
character, this is me. The rap battle in 2017. How do you
pick your spots to use that? And how does it get the OK from
the top?

KK: A lot of times, it doesnt get the OK. But weve earned
our long leash. Vince [McMahon] knows that when were out
there, people are entertained. When were talking about what
were going to do and Vince has to approve it, hell say I
dont get it, but if they want to do it, then let them do
it, because he has the faith that were going to be
entertaining with our delivery. We just kind of do whatever
is entertaining to us and what we think might be funny, and
most of the time it is. Weve earned a long leash, sold a
lot of merchandise and weve got a lot of support from
people, so more or less, we kind of do whatever we want.

You guys have to be up there with the funniest people in
wrestling history. Whom do you personally consider the
funniest WWE superstars, commentators, managers? Who made
you laugh or makes you laugh the most from WWE?

KK: I think before I got signed, I would definitely say
Booker T, specifically King Booker was hilarious to me. It
was such a departure from anything he had done at that
point. Him portraying this elegant character and being the
opposite of elegant, rugged in the ring and on the mic, it
was one of the more entertaining thing. Since being on the
roster, Santino Marella, without a shadow of a doubt, he is
the funniest in-ring competitor...Anytime he was in the
ring, people gathered around the monitor and wanted to see
what he would do, whether he was going to the top rope and
being afraid of heights and then jumping off the bottom rope
and missing. It was really just a joy to see him out there
and do his thing.

SmackDown comes to Birmingham on Friday. You were a part of
Deep South Wrestling early in your career. What did that
experience in the South teach you about that part of the
country, and what do you like about performing in the South
today?

KK: I love wrestling in the South because everyone does what
theyre supposed to do. I feel like when you go to the
North, people want to be cool and cheer for the bad guys,
you know what I mean? Not that it makes it difficult, its
just a different environment. But the people the South are
passionate, and youre going to let people know when you
dont like them. When someones going out there and doing
the right thing, you guys cheer for them with all your
hearts, so I always love going down South. The energy is
awesome. Theres been a lot of wrestling history in the
South. Its something thats been passed down through
generations, and we definitely feel that. Were looking
forward to coming to Birmingham. Its one of my favorite
places to perform for those reasons I mentioned. Everyones
always been very welcoming to me. Over the years, Ive
always felt the love in Birmingham. We love being there and
cant wait to come back.

A couple of weeks ago on his podcast After the Bell, Corey
Graves made the case for a Big E singles breakout run right
now. Youve obviously had an incredible run of your own,
including that incredible WrestleMania moment, and each of
the men in New Day clearly has the talent to break out as a
singles competitor. What do you think Big E could bring with
that opportunity?

KK: He could bring the world. Big E is a phenomenal
competitor and just a really, really funny dude on so many
different levels, easily the funniest one out of all three
of us. Me and Woods say all the time, its not fair. He can
just kind of look at you and have people dying laughing. He
has his finger on the pulse of what is good in wrestling. He
knows how to make things unique. I agree 100 percent that he
would have an amazing singles run. I think a lot of people
think a lot of people think that would mean the New Day
would have to break up, and thats not the case. Weve
always looked at ourselves as a faction. Weve never looked
at ourselves as just a tag team. Weve never put ourselves
in a box as far as being one thing. One of the possibilities
that weve discussed is all of us having singles titles and
still being a group and doing it because we are brothers.
Its a very real friendship and bond. We push each other and
want everyone to achieve the most they can achieve.

I say it all the time, with me being the WWE champion, I was
the one wearing the title, but it was all three of us that
were the champions because without Woods and E, I would not
have been in that situation. We all support each other to
the fullest. We push for the best for all of us. Hopefully
that does come to fruition in some way, shape or form, but I
guess well all kind of just wait and see what happens. We
show up to work and try to work with the scraps that were
given and make the best of the opportunities we have.
Everybody knows Big E would be an amazing singles
competitor. If that were to happen, it would be with the New
Day behind him 100 percent. We push each other to the
fullest and want to achieve the most they can possibly
achieve in this business and in life.

The athleticism on display right now is at an all-time high
thanks to guys like you, Seth Rollins, Ricochet, AJ Styles
and so on. You can see an evolution of athleticism
throughout pro wrestling history, but what kind of pressure
do you feel to keep upping the ante and coming up with new
ways to entertain using that athleticism? Where else can it
go?

KK: I mean, you just kind of do what you can. You put
different twists on things. It gets harder and harder to
stand out. For myself in particular, Ive always been akin
to standing out in the Royal Rumble, and its even hard to
do that now because you have people like...Ricochet and
Ember Moon last year doing incredible things in the Royal
Rumble as well. I think everyone can do their own thing.

The thing about WWE is you have different athletes and
styles, and theres always something to grasp on to. All of
us want to be the best, and what that provides is the best
product possible for the people. I wouldnt call it a
pressure or anything. Im not trying to outdo anybody
because no one holds me to a higher standard than I hold
myself to, so Im always trying to stay two steps ahead of
myself. In doing that, were able to put the best product
out. Well see. You take it one day at a time.

Whats the best WWE match youve seen in 2019?

KK: Oh wow, jeez. Uh...Theres a lot. Its hard to put a
finger on that one. I mean, Seth and Bray had an interesting
one recently. Even Rey Mysterio and Brock just had a really
good one, too. I dont know, dude, theres way too many good
matches, especially with NXT. Theres so many guys out there
capable of having amazing matches. Its a cop-out answer,
but I just cant put a finger on one.

Who is someone in WWE you think will take a big step in
2020?

KK: So Adam Cole has already taken a huge step this year
being on Raw, SmackDown, NXT, even this past weekend with
Survivor Series. Tommaso Ciampa, a guy who I trained with on
the come-up whos been kinda held down by injuries. He has
the heart of a lion, so I think its only a matter of time.
Hes been knocking at the door of doing something special,
had an amazing performance at Survivor Series this year.
Keith Lee killed it this year, being in there with Roman
Reigns and going toe-to-toe with Braun Strowman. He has a
bright future. The list could go on and on and on, man.
Theres so much amazing talent out there right now, and its
a really, really special time in wrestling right now, and I
guess well all find out together.





























































































































































































































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