A former WWE Champion, Kofi Kingston knows what it is like to reach the top of the mountain in WWE. Kingston will look to return to the top during this year’s Royal Rumble event. Known for Rumble-saving spots that awe the crowd, Kingston appreciates the unpredictability factor of the Royal Rumble.
This Saturday, Jan. 29, the Royal Rumble takes place inside The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis. Kingston will also have New Day member Big E competing in the match. Xavier Woods has been out of action with an injury. The goal, as always, is to win and main event WrestleMania. Kingston is ready for one of the most exciting events of the year.
Sporting News spoke with Kingston ahead of the Royal Rumble. He talks about the match and how this year feels special compared with previous events. We also discussed his partnership with Big E, especially within the Royal Rumble match.
Sporting News: What is your excitement level for the Royal Rumble? There appears to be an unpredictability factor to it this year.
Kofi Kingston: The Royal Rumble is the event people get most excited for next to WrestleMania. In some cases, maybe even more than WrestleMania. It sets up what is next. We don’t have a season finale or anything like that. We go straight through year-round. From the Royal Rumble to Mania, that’s when things really pick up for us. It’s so amazing because you really have no idea who’s going to show up, you have no idea who’s going to win. It could be someone who’s a complete underdog, or it could be a dominant star. Who’s going to survive? I think Rey Mysterio has the record for the longest amount of time in the Royal Rumble. You never know what record is going to be broken.
With the women’s Royal Rumble, Mickie James has been announced and she’s Knockouts Champion for the other company. Can I even say their name? Not only do we have someone who is from a different promotion, but she is a champion who was announced to be in our Rumble this year. Normally the excitement levels are high for this, but more so now. We haven’t even talked about if that “Forbidden Door” is open for the men’s Rumble. Who is going to be there? We have no idea who is coming from where.
SN: If someone was to come through the “Forbidden Door” for the men’s Rumble match, who do you think it would be?
KK: It’s tough. I really have no idea. You have a lot of people who said they would never come back to the company after being released or leaving on bad terms. Mickie James, there was a lot of controversy with how she was let go, but she’s right back here, about to be on one of the biggest events of the year. It’s a cop-out answer, but anybody from anywhere. If Mickie can, anyone can be here at any time. We have no idea. It’s exciting.
SN: What is the hardest part of the Royal Rumble?
KK: The hardest part is to actually win the Royal Rumble. Think about the odds. It’s great to have a chance to be catapulted into the main event scene, to be catapulted into the world title picture, whether it be the Universal title or the WWE Championship. Technically you can pick whatever championship you want. The hardest part is to win. You have a 1-in-30 chance. The most amount of people in a Rumble was about 50-60, so at one point, a 1-in-50 chance. The chances are small, but that still means there is a chance. Everyone is fighting as hard as they can to make a memory, a moment, to have a chance to be catapulted.
SN: Is there a way for you to stay cool, calm and collected during a match like this?
KK: There is no calm. The match is a free-for-all, a battle royale. You have no idea who is going to be before or after you. Your adrenaline is pumping the entire time. It’s an excitement, a good nervous feeling. You survive as long as you can. There is no way to strategize. It could be you and Omos, and you have to survive until the next person comes out. If you saw last year’s WrestleMania in Tampa, myself and Xavier Woods did not survive very well against Omos.
Everyone at the beginning realizes they have to get the giant out. Otherwise, we won’t stand a chance. Alliances can be broken and bonds are created. That’s what makes it exciting. It is an All-Star fantasy booking-type of a match. The fans can also be involved: There’s someone you can identify with, whether you like or hate them, whether they are tall or small, etc. It’s an amazing energy to be a part of.
SN: You won’t be alone in the Royal Rumble. You will have Big E, a former champion in his own right. How will your relationship with him work in a match like this?
KK: Over the past six, seven years, The New Day is like the three amigos: all for one and one for all. From a strategy standpoint, if my brothers are going to be in the ring at the same time as me, then we are going to ban together. Why wouldn’t you do that? It increases your chances. You can have two-on-one, three-on-one situations. You have an advantage, and if you don’t want an advantage, what kind of strategy is that? It will never be a situation where Big E and I go toe-to-toe because we are friends. The rule from when we defended our tag team titles was always when one of us wins, we all win. If E and I end up being the last two people in the Rumble, it’s over. We won because we are the same entity. We will never lock horns in anger, in angst. If the two of us are in there in the end, then we already won.
SN: Last year, the Royal Rumble took place without fans. This year, a different story. How will that play a factor?
KK: The part that makes this event so special is the fans and the energy they bring. Being able to feel the hype and the uncertainty and the angst of everyone in the crowd, that makes all the difference this year. I wasn’t in the Rumble last year because Cedric Alexander kneed me in my jaw. I wasn’t able to chew solid food for that duration of time. I didn’t get to experience the Rumble in the ThunderDome. I’m not that mad, because the fans are what make it. That energy, there’s nothing quite like it. There is no other event that we do that matches the type of energy that the Rumble produces. Since people didn’t get a chance to see it live last year, they are going to be even more hyped this year. That’s scary because they are already hyped as it is. I’m excited to feel that energy.
SN: What advice would you give to your rookie self?
KK: Be ready to adjust, to expect the unexpected. Don’t be upset when things change. Things change on the daily, especially in WWE. There are a lot of changes throughout the day, whether it be who you are facing or what you may be doing. We are professionals so we make it work every single time and you’d never know the difference.
Be comfortable with the unexpected. That’s really when things become fun. When things don’t go like they are supposed to, that’s how you know how good you really are. And then you go, “How am I going to adjust? Can I still get my point across? Can I still tell a great story and entertain these people with these new circumstances?” Usually, we knock it out out of the park. The main takeaway: Expect the unexpected and be prepared to be uncomfortable.
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