The Complete History of the WWE Championship - Part 21
Kofi Kingston holds the distinction of being the first African born WWE Champion in the belt's 56-year history.
The New Day member first joined the WWE roster way back in 2008. After briefly flirting with the main event scene in late 2009, Kingston became firmly entrenched as a WWE mid-carder in the subsequent decade, becoming one of the company's most popular and successful undercard acts.
However, after 11 years loyal service, Kingston finally got his opportunity at the headline level in early 2019, when he was booked to face WWE Champion Daniel Bryan in a title bout at WrestleMania 35.
Kingston was not the original choice to challenge WWE Champion, Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania as that spot was supposed to go to Kevin Owens. However, when Kingston got over with the WWE Universe, the company were forced to re-evaluate and insert the former Intercontinental, United States and Tag Team Champion into the title match instead.
In the best bout on the card, Kingston dethroned Bryan to win his first World Championship. In an unforgettable moment, Kingston celebrated with his New Day brothers and his family, including his children, inside the ring post-match.
However, any prospects of Kingston becoming a full-time main-eventer appeared to be torpedoed when he did not change or update his character one iota after his title win. Everything about Kingston still screamed mid-carder and his reign did not electrify in conflicts with other career mid-carders such as Dolph Ziggler and Samoa Joe.
His title reign was terminated in less than ten seconds by perennial World Champion, Brock Lesnar. Kingston never received a rematch nor did he ever reference his loss on television. Back with the New Day, it is almost as if the title reign never happened with Kingston firmly back in the mid-card ranks.
It seems a long shot to believe that Kingston could ever regain the WWE Championship again.
This slideshow completes my long journey through every title reign in the WWE Championship's long and storied history (at least until there are more new title reigns to warrant a further slideshow), bringing the title up to date with current, reigning, defending, undisputed WWE Champion, Brock Lesnar.
All previous parts in my series can be found here: Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9, part 10, part 11, part 12, part 13, part 14, part 15, part 16. part 17, part 18, part 19 and part 20.
Randy Orton (April 2, 2017 - May 21, 2017)
Randy Orton's relationship with the WWE Championship had ended with his defeat to Daniel Bryan in the main event of WrestleMania XXX on April 6, 2014.
He rarely featured in the title scene in the three years since until he surprisingly won the 2017 Royal Rumble match.
That victory (his second 'Rumble win) allowed him to challenge for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 33.
RKO had feuded with WWE Champion, Bray Wyatt in the Autumn and subsequently aligned himself with the cult leader. The WWE Championship reignited their on/off conflict.
Orton successfully lifted his ninth championship in a disappointing title bout best remembered for maggots being projected onto the ring canvas.
The Orton/Wyatt feud underwhelmed and WWE decided to give RKO a fresh opponent in opening card act, Jinder Mahal at Backlash on May 21, 2017.
After only six weeks as champion, nobody expected Orton to drop the strap so soon. However, in a colossal shocker, The Viper dropped the belt to The Modern Day Maharaja and failed to regain the belt in rematches.
Orton has not been considered for another title run since. However, after re-signing with WWE for an additional five years on November 6, 2019, there is every chance, he could add title No.10 to his resume.