Lately I’ve seen a lot of buzz from members o the IWC grumbling (once again) that it is time for Kofi Kingston to ascend to the main event title scene of the WWE, and even become world champion. I’m here to tell you that they are wrong. Kofi Kingston is destined to linger in the midcard for the duration of his wrestling career, unless he makes some drastic changes.
Kofi just does not have what it takes. His attitude is too lackadaisical, his move-set has become repetitive, his style is not hard hitting and too flashy, he’s not that good on the mic and his character is fairly bland.
This smiling faux Jamaican once had a glimmer of main event potential when he briefly stepped up his game against former heavyweight champion Randy Orton back in late 2009. This attack from Raw was probably Kofi’s greatest moment.
He and Randy had a nice back and forth feud where Kofi showed some flashes of brilliance, but it pretty much fizzled out with Kofi looking not much better then when it started. It also became somewhat overshadowed by Randy Orton screaming “Stupid! Stupid!” at Kofi in a pretty high profile Raw match in late 2010 after Kofi apparently botched the ending of the match. Many have pointed to that as a reason why Kofi was pushed back down the card.
Is that true? I don’t know. I don’t work behind the scenes at WWE, so that is only pure speculations. There have been fans regularly calling for Kofi’s rise to the top since his debut on the ECW brand in 2007. For me, he was exciting and innovative when he first came around, and I thought he had all the potential in the world. But then he hit a plateau that I don’t think he’s really overcome.
For a guy who is billed as innovative, it feels like I haven’t seen a new move from him in years. He reminds me a lot of Rob Van Dam. Van Dam is a guy who is really athletic and has a unique high flying offensive style, much like Kofi Kingston, but also like Kofi he is a guy that does not speak well on the mic, has a happy go lucky persona that does not translate well to the intense world of wresting, and became extremely repetitive in matches because he just hit the same spots every match without adding much new.
Also like Kofi, Van Dam is a guy who is basically an upper midcarder for life. Yeah, Van Dam had his brief WWE/ECW title reign, but really it was very lackluster and never felt earned and thus failed to actually elevate RVD to the main event. Oh, and I know he was the TNA world champion, but that doesn’t really mean much. TNA is a joke and their main event scene means nothing. R-Truth is a two time TNA World Champion.
And I like RVD! He just should have stopped wrestling a long time ago. But we’re talking about Kofi. Kingston is nowhere near the level of stale RVD has become, probably because he hasn’t been around nearly as long. That may be Kofi’s saving grace. He’s relatively young at 31, and has some time to improve.
Let’s look at his recent work battling against the Miz and Wade Barrett for the Intercontinental Title. It was all pretty typical Kofi. They had a series of strong matches, but the promos and surrounding stories are where Kofi’s limitations are more telling.
When Kofi started with this recent program with the Miz he claimed that something had awakened in him and he was now more intense, and even had a new nickname – the Wildcat. He said this, but didn’t really change anything about himself. He spoke the same way, acted the same way and wrestled the same way.
Kofi is not a solid storyteller, which is why his character and matches feel stuck in limbo. He is a guy you can always count on to get a decent reaction from the crowd and almost never has a bad match, which is why he has achieved the success he has. It is not an easy thing to become an upper midcarder, and it takes a certain degree of talent to not only achieve that status, but to retain it for years. But being decent or “not bad” does not make you a main event caliber wrestler.
Kofi has had about 6 years to prove himself, and has not done so. His good friend CM Punk debuted at about the same time in ECW and you can compare their careers pretty easily. CM Punk had undeniable charisma and in ring talent and was able to rise to the top despite all the politics against him.
Also consider this, CM Punk has been the WWE Heavyweight Champion for well over a year, he seems to have some backstage pull at this point, and in that time he has not done any work with his buddy Kofi. If Kingston was going to have a real main event shot this would have probably been his chance.
At best I think Kofi could aspire to be like Rey Mysterio or Jeff Hardy, guys who very briefly held the top titles but were never really taken too seriously as main event talents and fell back down the midcard. While flashy high flying moves get the crowd excited they don’t seem to be enough to create that aura of a top guy. They just don’t have the impact of a a more matt based grappler.
Currently I see Kofi staying as a modern RVD or slightly more successful Shelton Benjamin, hovering around the midcard, winning lower titles and tagging with other midcard talents, and occasionally flirting with a main event talent or match. Unless a lot of things change, I just don’t see him having the range to ever grab the brass ring and truly reaching the upper echelon.