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Wrestling / Kofi Kingston

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I Can Fly.

"Ya destiny is mine."

Kofi Nahaje Kingston (real last name Sarkodie-Mensah, born August 14, 1981) is a Ghanian-American professional wrestler currently signed to WWE, where he performs under the Raw brand.

Kofi started his career in WWE as a member of its iteration of ECW, with the gimmick of a laid-back Jamaican wrestler who could nevertheless put a serious hurting on the other guy when the chips were down. He became popular enough to join the main rosters of Raw and SmackDown, where he had a pretty successful run as a midcard face for years, racking up title wins and feuds with Chris Jericho and Randy Orton.

He joined The New Day in 2014, turning heel for the first time ever but quickly switching back to being a good guy as the group exploded in popularity. For years, he was the impressive, athletic Lightning Bruiser of the group, and the one that both Big E and Xavier Woods openly campaigned for in order to get an opportunity at the WWE title. Unfortunately, it never quite came...

...until 2019, wherein after an absolutely show-stealing performance at that year's Elimination Chamber, it became the New Day's mission to get Kofi a title shot, believing that after 11 years in the 'E, he had more than earned his chance to go for it in one-on-one competition.

Over the next two months, Kofi fought and clawed his way up to a WWE Championship match at WrestleMania 35, with fans rallying behind him every step of the way; both the storyline and the fan campaign surrounding him were dubbed "KofiMania". Naturally, Kofi encountered plenty of resistance from then-champ Daniel Bryan (who believed he didn't have the moral fortitude to be a champion worth praising) and Vince McMahon (who believed he didn't have what it took after years as a tag team wrestler). However, even through being underestimated and screwed over time and time again, Kofi defeated Bryan on the Grandest Stage of Them All and won the WWE Championship for the first time, to the adulation of the entire wrestling world. In doing so, he became the first (and currently only) African-born WWE world champion in history.

Kofi is a one-time WWE Champion, four-time WWE Intercontinental Champion, a three-time WWE United States Champion, a 15-time WWE Tag Team Champion (winning every variation of the titles: once with CM Punk, once with Evan Bourne, once with R-Truth and 11 times as part of The New Day), the 30th WWE Triple Crown Champion, and 20th WWE Grand Slam Champion.

Not in any way related to Eddie Kingston.

"Looks like there's Tropes in Paradise":

  • The Ace: Of the New Day, being the trio's unofficial leader and its all around most versatile wrestler. Kofi's title record backs it up, as he's held a breathtaking 22 championships over his career as of February 2021. As of that time, only four people in WWE history have had more championship reigns than him.note 
  • Alliterative Name: Kofi Kingston.
  • Arch-Enemy: Two main rivals in Dolph Ziggler and Randy Orton, with other and feuds with other people as individuals and as part of The New Day.
    • He and Dolph Ziggler once feuded almost nonstop for the Intercontinental,US titles and when Kofi was the WWE Champion in 2019, a jealous Ziggler challenged him for that title as well. As a result of their 10 year rivalry, they and the announcers jokingly refer to their rivalry as a "Best of 500 series", and as it stands as of current writing, the score is Kofi: 16 wins, Ziggler: 14 wins, and 1 draw, in singles matches. Prior to Super Showdown 2019, one redditor chronicled their history here, while WWE recapped matches here. Due to the respect forged from this rivalry, Ziggler lists Kofi's finisher as one of the 5 greatest of all time.
    • Randy Orton and Kofi Kingston developed a rivalry both on stage and backstage between 2009 to 2019. This feud included some of Kofi's earliest standout moments in the ring, such as being Sole Survivor at Survivor Series 2009, Boom Dropping Orton through a table at Madison Square Garden, and demolishing Orton's car. During a feud that seemed to be leading to Kofi getting a shot at the WWE title, Kofi was booked to lose a match to Randy via punt kick. Because of a forgotten finish, Kofi got up at the wrong time, and Orton instead delivered a stiff RKO, and repeatedly called Kofi stupid ("stoopid") in the ring. Following this, Orton used his considerable backstage influence to have Kofi's push cancelled, and Kofi wouldn't be booked in a WWE title feud for another ten years. However, due to Orton accidentally breaking the nose of Mustafa Ali, Kofi was entered in Ali's place into a gauntlet match that would lead to his winning the WWE title at Wrestlemania 35. Along the way, Orton and Kingston fought several times, and then feuded again for the WWE title at Summerslam 2019, with repeated references to their past history and calling each other "stupid" during their matches, while Orton admitted to using his clout to hinder Kofi. Kofi would eventually get his revenge, defeating Orton in a gauntlet match, at Elimination Chamber 2019, and again at Summerslam 2019, winning that feud.
    • Kofi also had feuded with The Miz on many occasions, usually with either the Intercontinental or US title on the line. In fact, Kofi knew Miz so well that not only Kofi rejected a handshake from the Miz, he also outright refused to believe that the Miz had fully turned face near the end of 2012.
  • The Artifact: The reggae theme music and color scheme of his wrestling gear are artifacts of his Fake Nationality... as is his name. note  Ever since joining The New Day, only the "Kingston" name remains.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The S.O.S. (an arm trap somersault STO), which involves flipping himself and his opponent over rather awkwardly. It looks cool, but it's hard as all hell to execute, which is probably the reason it's never become his primary finishing move. In fact, the Japanese wrestler who created the move, Madoka (no, not that Madoka), performs it at high-speed to minimize the time of its intricate motion.
  • Ass Kicking Pose: It caused Shelton Benjamin to initially dismiss him and Chris Jericho had no idea how to approach it.
  • Berserk Button: Don't mention his relative lack of success during his singles run. Not if you know what's good for your health.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: This is why Shelton Benjamin had such a losing streak against Kofi Kingston, because he kept pushing his buttons or trying to intimidate him. Then in one of the WWE's most triumphant examples, he came after Legacy after they beat him up and blamed him for team Raw losing bragging at the bragging rights pay per view. Randy Orton would blame Kofi for his loss to John Cena later that night, since Legacy were supposed to help him win but the subsequent feud Randy sparked brought out levels of mischief and anger we had never seen in Kofi before.
  • The Chew Toy:
    • This poor guy can not seem to catch a break as far as tag team partners go.
      • First, his reign with Evan Bourne was ended abruptly when the latter had a second Wellness Violation. He would later suffer a career-threatening injury to his foot, and hasn't been seen since.
      • And just when it seemed like WWE had done him a solid by teaming him with R-Truth (who also served a suspension stemming from the same incident), Truth has also been written off television again due to a broken foot.
      • Not to mention every time he lost the tag titles, it was on a house show.
      • Subverted in the R-Truth case. Truth got better and he and Kofi became Tag Champions. Even when they dropped the belts, it was at Night of Champions.
      • And then The New Day happened. Curse? Broken.
    • Not to mention his individual career...
      • Other people get handed championship opportunities, but Kofi has to get beaten up by the Bar, yanked from his promised match with Daniel Bryan, watch Kevin Owens and Mustafa Ali compete in the match he should have had, withstand a second five-man gauntlet match (this time beating the Bar, Rowan, Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton) and just when he believes he's won, here comes Vince McMahon to sic Daniel Bryan on an exhausted Kofi and crush his hopes again.
      • Even after the biggest push of his career takes him to becoming WWE Champion at WrestleMania and then have a championship reign of relatively modest length, he ends up losing the title in a matter of SECONDS at the hands of Brock Lesnar.
  • Continuity Nod: After losing the Tag Team Titles to Team Hell No, Kofi and Truth split amicably as a tag team. They're still depicted as very good friends, though, to the point where their respective midcard singles feuds (Kofi as the IC Champion defending against Wade Barrett, and Truth as the challenger to Antonio Cesaro's US Title) have almost overlapped at points.
    • Any time Kofi faces Randy Orton (as mentioned in Beware the Nice Ones); they just really hate each other.
  • Dance Battler: with The New Day.
  • Determinator: On the February 12th 2019 episode of SmackDown Kofi wrestled for over an hour in a gauntlet match to determine who would enter last in the upcoming Elimination Chamber WWE Championship match, defeating Daniel Bryan (the reigning champion), Jeff Hardy and Samoa Joe before finally being forced to tap out to AJ Styles' Calf Crusher. He got a standing ovation from the crowd for his efforts.
  • Discontinuity Nod: Kofi came up with his wrestling persona of being from Jamaica, and it was carried into the WWE for a time before being phased out, with him being retroactively established as being from Ghana from 2009 onward. The switch was made rather suddenly, but was still acknowledged a few weeks afterwards by Triple H during a promo, who asked in the ring "Hey, aren't you supposed to be Jamaican? What happened to your accent?" (Shawn Michaels immediately changed the subject before Kofi could give any kind of response).
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: On Feb. 12, 2019 episode of SmackDown, Kofi entered a gauntlet match against the other five competitors for the upcoming Elimination Chamber match. He had just defeated three other superstars and the last one continue to attack him until AJ Styles saved him. Already tired from fighting for over an hour, Kofi can barely even stand on his feet. Styles tried to tell Kofi to forfeit as he had already proven himself but Kofi refused, as he had been waiting for 11 years to earn an opportunity for the WWE Championship, and demanded AJ to fight him.
  • Downer Ending: The end of Kofimania when Kofi lost his championship. Every champion has to lose some time, but most don't get ordered to simply leap onto Brock Lesnar's shoulders so he can beat you with one F5 in less than 10 seconds because the boss has decided that he's done humoring the crowd and needs the belt on a real champion now. Kofi was made to look like a weakling and an idiot and it gave his entire championship reign a bitter aftertaste.
  • Dreadlock Rasta: But not anymore.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After eleven years of blood, sweat and tears, Kofi finally wins the WWE Championship from Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 35, becoming a Grand Slam Champion.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: After turning heel with New Day, his hairstyle changed to... dreadlocked pigtails.
  • Expy:
    • As the solid in-ring worker bouncing between very successful tag team runs and midcard championships but never quite able to bust the glass ceiling, Kofi's WWE career path somewhat resembles that of Christian - right down to finally receiving a late-career shot at the big time in part due to an injury that altered WWE's original plans.note  If one substracts the "getting a title shot due to another wrestler's injury" factor, that same description could also apply to Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit, who both got a late-career world title run around the same time as each other.
    • As of the start of his main event push in 2019, he's become one to Daniel Bryan in 2013-14 (ironically, with Bryan himself now playing the part of Randy Orton). It's fairly obvious - perhaps even too obvious - that WWE is using an abbreviated version of how that angle turned out as a template for Kofi's storyline. This is even acknowledged full-tilt in Kofi's final promo before the match:
      Kofi: [to Daniel] You know what all of this (points to crowd) feels like...And you're scared as hell - and you should be, because you know what comes next!
  • Face: Pretty much hasn't been anything but in WWE.
    • Face–Heel Turn: Turned heel along with Big E and Xavier Woods with New Day in 2015, but soon returned to being faces.
  • Finishing Move: Two of them: a Ranhei DDT called the SOS and a spinning roundhouse kick called the Trouble in Paradise.
  • Five Moves of Doom: He tends to finish tag team matches off with a sequence of four signature moves followed by Trouble in Paradise.
  • Flipping the Bird: In June 2019, Samoa Joe ambushed and attacked Kofi several times in order to set up a title match between them at Extreme Rules 2019. At one point, Joe promised to leave Kofi alone until the title match if Kofi would shake his hand. Instead, Kofi flipped him the bird and then knocked him out.
  • Foreign Wrestling Heel: During The New Day's heel run. Kofi was born in and billed from Ghana, and as a heel, he can become quite the troll in his promos against other faces.
  • Genre Savvy: Might have had a moment like this after a recent rematch with The Miz. Miz tried to shake Kofi's hand after the match. Kofi responded by dropkicking Miz in the face.
    • His 2013 Championship win against Antonio Caesaro. During a championship match, it is very rare that someone will be able to measure up their opponent and then pull off their while he was getting up after a failed pinning attempt, Kofi pulled out Antonio's leg and then used Trouble in Paradise to knock him out.
  • The Hero: As of WrestleMania 35, Kofi is the WWE Champion and thus plays the role of hero of the entire company alongside Universal Champion Seth Rollins and unified Women's Champion Becky Lynch. At WrestleMania 35 Kofi's win was THE big feel-good babyface win of the day, even eclipsing Becky's winning of both Women's Championship belts in the main event, and he was by then the single most-over wrestler in the entire company.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Kofi is often stated to be CM Punk's "road wife." The two even won the tag team titles together in the past.
    • Even after Punk's acrimonious exit from the company, he said in interviews that Kofi is one of the few guys in wrestling he still keeps in regular contact with.
  • History Repeats: Duting his 2009 feud with Randy Orton, Kofi performed a Boom Drop on Orton on a table from an upper level inside Madison Square Garden. Ten years, when he feuded with Orton, Kofi did that again inside MSG.
  • Ignored Enemy: Sometimes he's taken for granted by opponents with seemingly bigger fish to fry. Some people - like Chris Jericho and Randy Orton, for instance - have found out that this only makes him angrier, and isn't a good idea.
    • Aesop Amnesia on Orton's part occurring when he faced off with Kofi on the January, 13 2014 episode, thinking he could take out his anger at The Authority on Kingston. Instead, Kofi counters Orton's trademark DDT into an SOS for a shocking three count!
  • I Have Many Names: His finishing move, which was named "Cool Runnings" in Deep South Wrestling, "Jamaican Buzzsaw" in Florida Championship Wrestling, and finally "Trouble in Paradise" in WWE.
  • Jobber Entrance: Continued to get them after his last little push with Ted Dibiase went nowhere. It was subverted on the last Smackdown of 2014, where despite getting jobber treatment, Kingston actually beat Damien Sandow.
  • Kayfabe: He got worried when his relatives still living in Ghana started getting interviews regarding his wrestling career, for fear it would give away he really was not Jamaican.
  • Keet: Part of the reason commentary refers to his offense as a "controlled frenzy", and how else would anyone buy the Boom Drop or the frequent thunder clapping he does?
  • Kid-Appeal Character: He even wears yellow (usually).
  • Le Parkour: Busts it out annually (and to everyone's great delight) at the Royal Rumble.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Pushed as this during his brief upper-card feuds.
  • "London, England" Syndrome: Billed from "Ghana, West Africa".
  • Longhaired Pretty Boy: Despite his beard, Kofi fits this quite well, especially as a babyface.
  • Loophole Abuse/Exact Words:
    • Once saved himself from elimination in the Royal Rumble by walking on his hands outside the ring, all the way to the steps. The rules state that a competitor is eliminated if he (or she) goes over the top rope and both feet touch the floor.
    • For this, he won the Slammy Award for the "Tell Me I Did Not Just See That" Moment.
    • He pulled another such stunt at the 2013 Rumble, by jumping onto the recently eliminated Tensai's back, climbing onto the Spanish Announcers' Table, then borrowing JBL's rolling chair and hopping back to the ring on it.
    • And again in the 2014 Rumble, where, after having been caught and placed on the barricadenote  by a recently eliminated contender, Kofi made a running jump from the security barricade to the ring apron, a distance of more than seven feet.
      • In the same match, he survived by the tip of his toes.
    • WrestleMania XXX. In the inaugural André the Giant Battle Royal, Kofi is launched over the top turnbuckle by Cesaro, drops about ten feet, and lands on his back outside the ring. Eliminated, right? Oh no! - Kofi somehow managed to control his fall to land with his heels on the bottom ring step, and pulled himself back onto his feet and into the ring.
  • Mr. Fanservice: When he went after The Miz during a segment involving them both and Larry King, a tux-wearing Kofi removed his jacket, tie and shirt. Audible female screaming could be heard from the audience.
  • Named by Democracy: Kofi's and Evan's tag name, Air Boom, was voted by the fans.
  • No Man of Woman Born/Exact Words: Played straight in his U.S. Title win against Antonio Cesaro, where the latter boastfully declared that no American could beat him for the title. Kofi, of course, is from Ghana.
  • Not Quite Flight: Kofi jumps really high.
  • Older Than They Look: Kofi doesn't look 40. Not only that, but other than his dreadlocks being a bit longer, he doesn't look or move like he's aged much from his debut nearly ten years prior.
  • One-Hit Kill: Much like Aleister Black's Black Mass, Kofi's Trouble in Paradise is absurdly lethal for being little more than a flashy roundhouse kick. Almost nobody gets up from it, with only Daniel Bryan and Kevin Owens - respectively one of the greatest wrestlers to ever live and a notorious one-man wrecking crew - requiring more than one kick to do the job in recent years.
  • Only Sane Man: Kind of a given when your tag team partner is seeing invisible Little Jimmies.
  • Rage Breaking Point: During the Gauntlet Match on February 12, 2019, he is told by AJ Styles — who came to rescue him after Kofi was being thrown about by Samoa Joe — that he should rest. It should be noted that 1) Kofi was not supposed to be in the match as he was replacing Mustafa Ali and 2) he has also beaten up Daniel Bryan and Jeff Hardy before Samoa Joe. Kofi essentially snaps at AJ Styles for telling him to stop fighting, and tells Styles to fight him because he'd been waiting for a chance during the last eleven years.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: One week before their match at WrestleMania 35, Kofi mocked Daniel Bryan during their contract signing, saying Bryan, who used to be in Kofi's shoes five years ago during his feud with the Authority, is afraid of him because he knew that Kofi will defeat him.
  • Red Baron: In 2013, WWE took to calling him "The Wildcat", though it never caught on with the fans.
  • Running Gag: Kofi's developed a reputation for being the hardest man to eliminate from the Royal Rumble; every time he enters, he does something entirely unexpected to save himself and get back in. See Loophole Abuse above.
  • The Rival:
    • From all the way back in Deep South Wrestling, Montel Vontavious Porter. They had a friendly rival mostly, and MVP symbolically passed his torch onto Kofi.
    • Not-so-friendly, though, with The Miz. The two just don't seem to get along, and anytime they're in the ring together, bad things tend to happen.
  • The Scapegoat: Legacy blamed him for Raw losing the Bragging Rights match to Smackdown, since Kofi was the one to get pinned, rather than on The Big Show who betrayed Team Raw by pushing Kofi off the top rope.
  • Signature Move:
    • Double Leg "boom" drop, jumping forearm, top rope cross body block in tribute to Ricky Steamboat, Frog splash to rising opponent's back, double open handed chest strike, a Koronco buster followed by five punches on the top rope.
    • Additionally, not so much a 'signature move' as a 'signature spot', but if he's in a battle royale, he will find some physics-defying way of staving off elimination.
  • Slasher Smile: His unofficial "logo", upon a second glance, is...a bit frightening.
  • Spectacular Spinning: His moveset's notably low on lucha libre-style moves (that is, for lack of a better descriptor, the "flippy stuff"), but a spin's the one thing that separates his Trouble In Paradise from...well, just a kick. Justified, however, as the way he does it really would transfer the momentum to the kick; this is likely a deliberate twist (pun completely intended) on Kofi's part, as he's a trained practitioner of the flip-and-spin-heavy capoeira.
  • Status Quo Is God: After losing the WWE Championship to Brock Lesnar in ten seconds, Kofi immediately went back to the tag division, barely acknowledging that his main event run and Character Development as a more ruthless competitor ever happened.
  • Tag Team:
  • Team Dad: In The New Day, as Kofi is a little bit older than Xavier and Big E and the veteran in WWE, they call him Pops. Of course, how much of this is genuine respect and how much of it is teasing him for being older is a matter of some debate.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Huge during his feud with Randy Orton - on one occasion, he jumped from a barricade and delivered a double leg drop to a prone Orton through the Spanish Announcers' Table.
    • Not only that, but in his Traditional Survivor Series tag team match against Team Orton, he pins both CM Punk and Orton -two former world champions- in 6 seconds, becoming the sole survivor of the match.
    • He beat Randy again on January 13th, 2014. Let this sink in: he's pinned the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Twice.
    • The first quarter of 2019 saw arguably the biggest hot streak of Kofi Kingston's career. Lasted nearly an hour in a gauntlet match, pinning several top stars, then came within a whisker of winning the Elimination Chamber days later. As of February, stands alone as the number one contender to Daniel Bryan's WWE Championship. Then, in April, he won it.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: He became a heel for the first time in his in-ring career in 2015 along with Big E. Langston and Xavier Woods as the villainous stable "The New Day" which prides themselves on hypocritical speeches and overall obnoxiousness.
  • Troll: As revealed on Xavier Woods' Youtube gaming show Up, Up, Down, Down, Kofi is a GIGANTIC shit-talker, though he uses it to incite his opponents and will only do it against people who are around his skill level. Fans have very much noticed that for as much as he plays a very virtuous and well-meaning hero on screen, he is a relentless wise-ass when competing against him in video games, especially fighting games.
  • The Unchosen One: Kofi was a last-minute replacement for the injured Mustafa Ali for the WWE Championship match at Elimination Chamber 2019 but after putting up a great match in both gauntlet match one week before and at the Chamber itself. Combine with strong fan support since his first joined, he was finally able to compete for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 35 after two months of Vince McMahon continuing to deny him.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Mainly because he's all smiles, but once you get him angry, all bets are off.
  • Underwear of Power: Averted after he returned from an injury on the August 5th, 2013 episode of Raw, when he had switched to tights for some reason.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Gave CM Punk a concussion at the Royal Rumble with his first attack. WWE doctors' refusal to actually diagnose Punk with a concussion (which would mean scrapping whatever plans they had for him that night) was basically the last straw that led to him walking out. This one is particularly harsh as Kofi was Punk's "road wife" — essentially, the best friend he had in WWE and one of his closest after Colt Cabana. note 
  • Ur-Example: His first wrestling championship was also the first WWE title ever won by a citizen of Ghana.
    • He is also the first African-American wrestler to become a Grand Slam Champion under the modern format (though not the first overall, as that title goes to Booker T.)
  • Vehicular Sabotage: Did this to Randy Orton's NASCAR-type vehicle. How?! From key-scratching it to smashing it with a wrench-type pipe and finishing off with orange paint spilled over the car logos, which is of Randy Orton's likeness.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Kofi is, at least by wrestling standards, a relatively thin, springy guy. Contrasting that completely, his natural voice is deep and gruff, to the point that he's able to emulate "Stone Cold" Steve Austin almost perfectly.
  • Why Won't You Die?: He is really hard to eliminate in battle royals. Has quickly become a hallmark of his championship run, even including his first match as #1 Contender. Kofi simply refuses to stay down for anything.
  • Xtremely Kool Letterz: He took to wearing pants with the word 'skillz' on them in 2013.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Kofi is the unfortunate victim of the glass ceiling in wrestling. Every time he gets a singles push and starts to get over, he gets the rug pulled from under him. It was even lampshaded by Vince McMahon, but defied when the biggest and most-sustained push of his entire career culminated in him becoming WWE Champion for the first time at WrestleMania 35...only to lose it in a matter of seconds some 6 months later.