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On Friday, October 4, 2019, Kofi Kingston defended his WWE World Championship against The Beast Incarnate, Brock Lesnar, on the premiere of Friday Night SmackDown on FOX. A few seconds later, Kofi Kingston’s first reign as WWE champion came to a thunderous end via the F5.
Kofi's reign as champion started at WrestleMania 35 but the momentum began to pick up when Ali had to be removed from Elimination Chamber due to an injury. This was in an intriguing prospect as the fans had never really seen a member of the New Day compete for a shot at a World Title.
Leading up to Elimination Chamber, SmackDown Live hosted a gauntlet match to give the WWE Universe a preview to the action that will happen inside the Chamber. The winner of the match would also earn the right to be the final entrant in the Chamber match. Much to the fans' delight, Kofi would show that he was much more than an injury fill-in.
The match began as Kofi and the reigning WWE Champion, Daniel Bryan, battled for nearly 30 minutes. In a surprise upset, Kofi eliminated the Champ. The Dreadlocked Dynamo followed that up by defeating a three-time WWE World Champion and tag team legend, Jeff Hardy.
With the first two entrants out of the way, the ominous music of Samoa Joe flooded the arena. An exhausted Kofi attempted to gather himself for the next battle. The fans were already thrilled with the efforts of the eldest member of the New Day. At this point, the seeds of KofiMania were planted. Nobody expected Kofi, in his depleted state, to pull out a victory over Samoa Joe...but he did.
Randy Orton went on to eventually win the gauntlet match and secured the final spot in the Chamber. The next day, nobody was talking about Randy Orton. Kofi Kingston was the talk of the wrestling world.
At Elimination Chamber's main event, the final two competitors were the defending champion, Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston. They put on a thrilling match once the rest of the field was eliminated but alas, it wasn’t Kofi’s time just yet. However, the WWE Universe could feel the winds of change stirring.
Suddenly, the fans were visualizing Kofi with the belt around his waist. They could almost see the pancakes flying amidst the confetti during the celebration of his first WWE Title victory. The WWE Universe could almost taste the triumph. It was decided then, Kofi needs to be champion.
Following Elimination Chamber, it was quite clear who the No.1 contender for Daniel Bryan’s title would be.
Kingston was engulfed in a tidal wave of fan support for the underdog, the likes of which had not been seen since Daniel Bryan’s “YES!” movement. Now Bryan was able to help elevate Kofi to heights The Planet's Champion had reached just a few years prior.
Kofi’s victory over Bryan at WrestleMania was a truly magical moment. It was the type of moment the Showcase Of The Immortals was built for. The story of Kingston’s 11-year journey finally culminating as the face of a brand was a fulfilling moment for the WWE Universe.
Kofi successfully defended his title all summer, which led to a feud worthy of its own DVD with Randy Orton.
Orton and the WWE Champion’s feud revolved around the idea that The Viper squashed Kofi’s initial push in 2009 when the New Day member botched a big spot on Raw and the former World Champion was visibly furious. The rumour that Orton used his pull to bury Kofi was intertwined into this story, making it even more compelling.
The feud ended at Clash of Champions with Kingston earning a clean victory over The Viper in (what I believe was) a clinic of a professional wrestling match. Kofi’s redemption was complete. Not only had he defeated Orton, but he successfully defended his WWE Championship against the Viper in the process.
With the move to FOX, Brock Lesnar abruptly inserted himself into the title picture and made Kofi look like he was in a different class.
It’s unfortunate, but understandable that WWE would want to utilize the mainstream coverage that Lesnar and Velasquez would bring to the brand.
All good things must come to an end. Kofi’s run will always be fondly remembered. Being destroyed by Lesnar does not tarnish Kofi’s run as champion.
The New Day will now have even more credibility moving forward. There’s no doubt WWE will continue to showcase them on FOX. New Day is just as entertaining as before, only now they’ve got a former WWE Champion in their ranks.
Kofi carried the title with charisma, skill and pride. He talked the talk and he walked the walk. Now that this run is over, you can take some time to appreciate it. Next time you see Kofi in an arena, make sure you thank him for the passion and the effort he put into every promo, match and appearance he made as WWE Champion. Even though he's not the champ now, his reign as champion is forever cemented in WWE history.