WWE returns to Beaumont on Saturday - interview with U.S. champ Kofi Kingston
Ford Arena will be hopping with thousands of pro wrestling fans as the WWE returns to Beaumont on Saturday, May 11, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the event are on sale at the Ford Park box office and all Ticketmaster locations, and the card looks spectacular.
Headlining the main event will be WWE champion John Cena and Sheamus teaming up to face “The World’s Strongest Man” and Silsbee native Mark Henry and Ryback.
The WWE tag team titles will be up for grabs as champions “Team Hell No,” including Kane and Daniel Bryan, defend the gold against The Shield. Other matches that are scheduled include “Y2J” Chris Jericho vs. Fandango; R-Truth vs. The Shield’s Dean Ambrose; Diva’s champion Kaityln, who is from nearby Houston, defending her title against Tamina; Adrian Neville (of WWE’s development organization NXT) vs. Michael McGillicutty, who is the son of the late “Mr. Perfect” Curt Henning; and Zack Ryder facing off against NXT’s Bray Wyatt.
Also scheduled is United States champion Kofi Kingston versus Antonio Cesaro, the very man Kingston defeated to win the title. After a recent string of losses, Kingston defeated Cesaro on April 15 on “Raw,” snapping Cesaro’s 240-day title reign.
This is the third U.S. title reign for the 31-year-old Kingston, who was born in Ghana then came to the States and enrolled at Boston College, then graduated before deciding to become a professional wrestler.
The Examiner spoke with Kingston over the phone about what to expect from a WWE live event and more.
What does it mean to hold a coveted title in the WWE?
First and foremost, I have always been a WWE fan. Historically speaking, some of the guys that have held the United States championship include Dusty Rhodes and Ricky Steamboat. These are guys that I used to look up to growing up, so for me to be holding the same title as them is quite an honor. They took it to another level and left big shoes to fill, and I definitely try to fill those and do the United States championship some justice. On top of that, anytime you can be a champion in the WWE, you are basically a representative of the entire company and are one of the best on the roster. You are not a champion unless you are ‘that good.’ Not to toot my horn, but I take pride in being a champion and showing every single match why I deserve it.
I’m glad you mentioned Ricky Steamboat. What was it about ‘The Dragon’ that made him one of your all-time favorites?
I love all sorts of kung fu movies and loved to watch stuff like ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,’ ‘The Karate Kid’ and ‘Power Rangers’ growing up, and my favorite guys in WCW and WWE were the high flyers, and he was a hybrid of both of those. He was a combination of a high-flyer and a martial artist, and that drew me to him, plus he would breathe real fire on the way to the ring, plus he always wore colorful outfits, and I use bright colors and a lot of that is because of him.
When you signed a developmental deal with the WWE and began training, was that high-flying style something you wanted right away?
It was one of the things I had in the back of my mind, but I was fortunate to be coached at one time by Mike Hollow. He told me it was always more important to get your basics down. It was always about the basics for me, and there are probably a lot of things I can do in the ring that I don’t do because it’s not warranted in the story we are trying to tell. I like to be able to tell a great story while I’m in front of the WWE universe, and then put a little pizzazz on it with the high-flying moves. It stands out more that way and it means a lot more.
How great is it working for a company like WWE?
It’s amazing. There is so much stuff that we do. We are called WWE Superstars; that’s because we are a lot more than just wrestlers. We do different charity work with Make-A-Wish Foundation, the National Guard, among others and we go on tours to Afghanistan to show our appreciation for the soldiers. There are tons and tons of stuff we do, and being an employee of the WWE, you wear different types of hats.
You didn’t get to work Wrestlemania 29, but you were a part of the preview show with the likes of Hall of Fame broadcaster Jim Ross. You got great reviews. How different was going on the other side of the ring to do that?
At first, I was definitely upset that I was not on the card. Looking on the positive side of that, I was able to do something that had never been done before. The preshow analysis was an awesome experience. I got to talk what I love to do with two Hall of Famers like Jim Ross and Dusty Rhodes. The banter was great, and it was fun to talk about the show, which had a lot WWE superstars making their first appearance at a Wrestlemania. It was a great experience.
What can Kofi Kingston fans expect in 2013? And those who have never been to a WWE live event, what can they expect?
My 2013 started off dismal. I had only won maybe one or two matches up until I beat Antonio Cesaro, so you never really know. That’s what makes WWE great. You have to keep your eyes peeled each and every week to see what is going to happen. Anyone who has never been to a WWE live show, I strongly encourage you to attend one. You will never forget the experience. WWE has the best athletes in the world, and we tell great stories. Guys like John Cena, Sheamus , Ryback and Mark Henry, who all are great in the ring, have four different styles. Team Hell No is dynamic team of Kane and Daniel Bryan, and fans love them. You look out in the crowd and you see people of all ages and lots of families. This is a family oriented show. Come out, make your sign and I guarantee you will have a great time.