On Sunday night, Kofi Kingston will make his return to the Elimination Chamber.
Although he was part of a tag match at Elimination Chamber in 2020, Kingston last performed in the match as a singles competitor two years ago, when he was in the early stages of a run that culminated in one of WWE’s best stories of all-time, defeating Daniel Bryan to win the WWE Championship in the match of the night at WrestleMania 35. He went on to have a phenomenal six-month run with the belt, but was suddenly removed from the title picture once he dropped the belt that October to Brock Lesnar. Sixteen months later, Kingston finally receives the chance to reinsert himself in the world title picture as part of the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber match, featuring reigning champ Drew McIntyre, AJ Styles, Sheamus, Jeff Hardy and Randy Orton.
“This gives me the chance to show I can last, endure, and compete against the best,” said Kingston. “Everyone in our Elimination Chamber match is a multiple time WWE Champion, and that’s a club I want to join.”
Kingston has been a WWE fixture for over a decade. His in-ring style has continued to evolve, and he delivers an unrivaled blend of storytelling and athleticism in his work. A hallmark that has defined his entire career is maximizing opportunities, which he did during his pursuit of the belt, throughout his world title run, and as part of The New Day, which formed in 2014 and is the most successful tag team in WWE history.
“I think I’m one of the best at making the most of what I’m given,” said Kingston. “I take a lot of pride in being able to make the most of my opportunity, whether it’s tag matches or singles competition. The Elimination Chamber won’t be KofiMania II. This is going to be new, it’s going to be special, and I’m going to keep on pushing. This is our chance to become a two-time WWE Champion.”
If you’re wondering why Kingston occasionally speaks in the plural, it is because he, Big E and Xavier Woods view success as a collective effort. The New Day has surpassed every expectation, and the three members of the group take immense pride in climbing seemingly unattainable heights together.
“My proudest two moments in WWE are winning the WWE Championship and accomplishing what we’ve achieved with Woods and E in the New Day,” said Kingston. “The prototypical, formulaic scenario for any group in WWE is that they’re eventually going to turn on each other. We just saw that in NXT with Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly. I’m not saying it’s a bad formula. Clearly it works and they’re going to have some amazing matches, but for us, we want to do the inverse, something that’s never been done.
“We take so much pride in being a family. I’m so fortunate to have them in my life and call them my brothers, and I never take that for granted. We have this unit where my brothers are by my side, we’re still a group, and no one’s turned on each other. I can’t have a serious match against them. We’ve never even had a fight in real life. Our bond is too strong, and it supersedes anything else. Fighting each other wouldn’t make sense, and I take so much pride in keeping this bond strong. I never want us to break up.”
Kingston’s run as WWE Champion was built on a genuine connection with the crowd, one that continued to reach new heights after he replaced Mustafa Ali in a gauntlet match two years ago on SmackDown. That moment ignited Kingston’s title run, and he went on to become the first-ever African-born WWE Champion, adding much-needed representation to the company’s most prestigious title.
“I was so humbled that people wanted so much success for me,” said Kingston. “I tried as hard as I could to make people feel they could accomplish their dreams, and representation played an important role. A lot of people could identify with who I was, like African American people, especially because I am African American, as well as people that were struggling, ones that worked hard but hadn’t received their due. I kept grinding and grinding and grinding, and I found myself in that moment. People were so behind that movement, and I’m eternally grateful for that.”
Even in the often-times manufactured world of professional wrestling, Kingston’s work resonates because of his authenticity. That was on display at the Royal Rumble, when he, Big E and Woods wore gear that paid tribute to the late Jon Huber, who starred in AEW as Mr. Brodie Lee and in WWE as The Wyatt Family’s Luke Harper.
“Jon was a guy you always wanted to be around,” said Kingston. “He was such a goodhearted person with such an amazing wife and family. His kids and my kids were pretty tight when they were around one another. Losing him was such a tragedy. He was a brother to us, so we wanted to pay tribute to him.”
The gear is being auctioned off, with the proceeds being donated to Foodlink New York in Rochester, New York, Huber’s hometown.
“We want the world to know how special he was,” said Kingston. “He touched a lot of people in a positive way, and we want to help make sure he’s remembered. We had the honor of knowing him, and we’ll continue to honor his memory.”
Already one of the industry’s brightest stars, Kingston now looks to write a sequel to his original hit. A second run with the WWE Championship would further elevate him in the company, adding even further meaning to his first reign—and opening the possibility for all sorts of new matchups and programs in his second run with the belt.
“Not to steal from Billie Kay, but adding multi-time WWE Champion to my resume would be special,” said Kingston. “That’s my goal, and I will continue to put in the work to get there.”
Kingston’s past now connects directly to his present, back at Elimination Chamber, seeking a second run atop the company and looking to show, once again, why he is among the best in the world.
“The whole pay per view is going to be tight, but this Elimination Chamber is going to be unique,” said Kingston. “We’re all different, but the common thread between each of us is that every single one of us wants to be at the top. These are the best in the world, and it’s a chance for me to see where I stand.”