Kofi Kingston was today’s guest on the E&C Pod of Awesomeness. The WWE Superstar opened up about his recent WWE push, the SmackDown Live Gauntlet Match, Elimination Chamber, and his upcoming WWE Championship match against Daniel Bryan at Fastlane. Highlights appear below.
(Transcription Credit: Michael McClead, WrestleZone)
On Being ‘One Match Away From Doing Something Great’:
There’s been a lot of craziness in the past 8 days, or 9 days, or whatever it’s been. Things have, as they say, ‘Heated up.’ It’s wild, man. I always tell people, ‘You are always only one match away from doing something great.’
How He Found Out About His SmackDown Live Gauntlet Match & Elimination Chamber Opportunity:
As far as cardio is concerned, I don’t really do cardio. Once in a blue moon, I might get on the treadmill and walk briskly for like 20 minutes. Even saying that makes my skin crawl because I have to be on there for that long. For whatever reason, last Monday we were about to go to the house show and I said, ‘You know what? Let me jump on this elliptical,’ and I stayed on for an astounding 45 minutes. This is probably the longest cardio I’ve done in probably like 8 years, so that very night I get the text from Road Dogg saying, ‘Mustafa Ali is gonna be out. We’re gonna put you in this Gauntlet Match and we’re gonna put you in this [Elimination] Chamber, but first we’re gonna put you in this Gauntlet Match and you’re gonna be in there for over an hour. Are you OK with that?’ I obviously respond back, ‘Oh yeah, of course, it’s gonna be fine.’ As soon as I get off I’m like, ‘Oh my God, this is gonna be a long time.’
What Prepared Him For The Gauntlet Match
Honestly, I remembered about 12 years ago, Dr. Tom [Prichard] was a trainer down in FCW with us. He made all of us do one hour broadways. I laughed about the fact that I don’t do cardio and I’d be in the ring for 45 minutes to an hour, but I wasn’t scared, by any means whatsoever because I know I’ve done it before. Granted it was 12 years ago, but the reason that Dr. Tom had us was in the event that we were to have an hour broadway on RAW or SmackDown, you would be prepared. We were like, ‘No, this is never gonna happen.’ Sure enough 12 years down the line it happened.
On The Mustafa Ali Injury:
It sucks with the situation, the way it came about, especially with Mustafa Ali. I feel like he’s been doing such an amazing job kind of being thrust into the limelight and he’s just so talented. You like to see when young talent are doing things and they’re being put into a prominent role on television and the fact that he ended up getting hurt is the worst, but by the same token, you don’t know when you’re going to be asked to step up and fill that role. For me, obviously, I wanted to kill it and knock it out of the park regardless, but by the same token….I almost didn’t want to let him down because I know how it feels to have a huge potential moment and have it taken away….I knew Mustafa would have killed it in this position, so now I have to kill it. I can’t allow for it to be a let down that I was put in this position, so I have to seize the moment and that’s what I was really trying to do, still trying to do, at this point – it’s not over yet. I’m still trying to capitalize on what’s happening.
On ‘Feeling The Crowd’ During The Gauntlet Match:
I didn’t feel it until I was in there with AJ [Styles] because I think that is the point where it just really got real. I told them I’d literally been waiting 11 years for this moment and that was all real. That wasn’t character based stuff. It was just real and I think as soon as he told me to stay down something like that just got to me because I feel like I’ve worked very very hard over the past 11 years. Everytime I go out there I try as hard as I can to do as best as I can. I can’t say I haven’t gotten a lot of opportunities because I’ve been real fortunate to experience a lot of cool things; the feud with Randy [Orton], the Money in the Bank matches, Royal Rumbles, and even the past 4 or 5 years with New Day has been amazing. At the same time, I haven’t had a chance at all to have a singles match for a main event. I try not to complain about it and I do believe that everything happens for a reason and that hard work pays off, but at a certain point you start to question: I’m working so hard, what is it that I don’t have? Why am I the one that’s being passed up while everyone else is getting opportunities?
In the Gauntlet Match, when AJ comes over and tells me to stay down, how could I ever walk away from that? It wasn’t an option. Regardless of how long I’d been in there, it was such a rare opportunity. I know it firsthand. I know some people get more chances than others. I can literally count the amount of major title opportunities that I’ve had. It just wasn’t an option, but I think that was the point where I got up and started getting in his face and I could really feel the crowd just getting into it and they start feeling it too because a lot of the people that have been watching have been on this journey with me too. I think it was just a visceral and emotional moment. I don’t know how much longer I have doing this. It can all end tomorrow and I’ve been doing it for a pretty long time, longer than most. To sit down, I would never do that. There is nothing on this planet that would make me walk away at a point like that. I think that was the point where I started to feel that people were really getting emotionally invested into the match, but I didn’t know how big it was gonna be. It wasn’t until after the match when I started going through all my social media feeds where I literally can’t scroll to the bottom because things keep popping off. It will only allow you to go through a certain amount and I’m scrolling through literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of messages and tweets. I literally pride myself on being able to read all the message that come to me, but I can not do it because people are so behind me. It’s a really really great feeling and it just helps with that momentum because I do feel it’s not just me. It’s me, it’s the people, it’s [Xavier] Woods, it’s [Big] E, it’s the people that make our gear. A lot of people have been with us on this journey. I’m just trying my hardest to capitalize and knock it out of the park every single time I step in there.
Kingston On What’s Next:
I wish I had information for you. It’s been legit 8 days and so many scenarios have been thrown around, and I have no idea what’s gonna happen, but I think a lot of people are in the same boat as you. I can’t complain about a title shot because, for me, this has not happened for me before. If you were to tell me I was gonna have a WWE title match on Sunday Night Heat, I would be equally ecstatic as I am now, so I can’t wait for Fastlane. Regardless, we’re gonna tear it up and who knows what’s gonna happen? I have no idea. Every day it’s always changing and I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see. We’ll probably all find out together. Honestly, you guys will probably find out before I do. I’m always the last guy to find things out. We’ll see.
Kingston On How He Feels About This Push:
It feels real good. It does. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be in this position and kind of be given the ball to try and make something special happen. I’ve had something organically, like you said, happen that’s special, but at the same time I still have a lot of those memories in the back of my mind. I’ve been around long enough to know that something can be great one day and just as quick as it comes, it can go just as quickly. I’m just trying not to look too far ahead. I’m taking things one day at a time and hit the ball out of the park as soon as the pitch is thrown. I’m very happy for all that’s happened so far, but we definitely still have a very long way to go. It’s not that I don’t want to get excited. I know better than to anticipate things around here.
Kofi Kingston Talks Gauntlet Match, Elimination Chamber, & Fastlane