Publish date:

Kofi Kingston on Big E: ‘He Refused to Sell His Soul to Become the Best’

The new WWE champion’s first match since winning the belt will pit The New Day against three of their oldest rivals.

As Big E raised his hand last week on Raw after winning the WWE championship, he became a new symbol for hope in professional wrestling. The crowd in Boston at the TD Garden erupted, and the power of positivity emanated across social media. Two others celebrating with Big E were Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods, who sprinted to the ring to embrace their best friend.

“I haven’t run that fast in a decade,” Kingston says. “It was uncontrollable excitement.

“It was such an emotional day. I’ve been around the business long enough to know you don’t celebrate anything until it actually happens. Throughout the day, I had this energy in body, but I was scared to let it out. Something could have changed, and I didn’t want to jinx anything. When it actually happened, all that energy came pouring out.”

Big E’s ascent to the world title has been unique. He has undoubtedly evolved throughout his career, yet he never changed the essence of his spirit during this singles run. He did not break off from The New Day or turn into a villainous heel. He remained true to his core principles of joy, determination and choosing right over wrong.

“He refused to sell his soul to become the best,” Kingston says. “When you lose yourself, that taints the experience. E was true to himself. To see Big E get to the top seeing him do it his way, it just amplifies this even more.”

Just as Big E stood in Kingston’s corner when he won the WWE title at WrestleMania 35, Kingston was overwhelmed with happiness during the title win.

“I was way more nervous watching E’s match than I was during my own at WrestleMania a few years ago,” Kingston says. “It’s one thing to see somebody work for something and grow and then finally attain the highest point of their profession, but it’s a whole other thing when you know that person deeply and personally.

“Myself, Woods and E, we are all brothers. I’ve watched E grow so, so much. He took this opportunity to be a wrestler and ran with it. He has never rested on his laurels. He’s always getting better, whether it’s on the mike, his physical shape or in the ring. He never holds back or takes a night off. He always prides himself in getting better. So it’s amazing to think where he started and see where he is now. It’s an inspiration. He wanted this, and he put in the work every step of the journey—and he did it. Everything happened the way it was supposed to. It was such a big moment for all of us.”

Big E’s championship journey takes flight Monday night on Raw, when he will team with Kingston and Woods against universal champion Roman Reigns and The Usos. A program between The New Day and The Bloodline could headline a pay-per-view, especially with the history between them in WWE, and Kingston sees this match as pivotal to their next chapter.

“This is the way to kick things off,” Kingston says. “It’s a fantasy booking that’s come true. People didn’t expect to see this right now, and it is going to be great.

SI Recommends

“Roman and The Usos have really created something special. When Jimmy was out for a while, Jey became ‘Main Event Jey.’ Those three are legitimate family, and seeing them together is so synergistic. It works. Now we weren’t born brothers in The New Day, we became brothers. So this is two families going at it. I can’t wait to be in it with my brothers against Roman, Jimmy and Jey, who are all doing the best work of their entire careers. It’s going to be dope.”

Part of what makes this story so meaningful is the history behind it. The rivalry between The New Day and The Usos is part of what makes them two of WWE’s best tag teams. The New Day also has history with Reigns, particularly when he was with The Shield. The six-man tag pitting The New Day against The Shield in 2017 is one of the greatest matches in Survivor Series history.

“Think about the old school, when you had guys like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels feud for the intercontinental championship, and they’d have these classic matches,” Kingston says. “Then they did their own thing, grew and eventually met again for the WWE championship. That’s what is happening here us and The Usos, and Roman and Big E.”

Before Big E made his WWE debut, there were plans to have him in a faction alongside Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, which later became (without E) The Shield. Kingston believes their past will only enhance the future in the Big E–Reigns feud, which is a strong candidate to headline a future WrestleMania.

“Big E was supposed to be a part of The Shield,” Kingston says. “He didn’t end up being a part of it, they did their thing, and we had a bunch of clashes with The Shield. And we had so many battles with The Usos. We’ve all had incredible growth, and now we’ve found each other again.

“Roman climbed the ladder. Now Big E has, too. People who have been watching WWE for the past eight years are really going to enjoy this, and we’re going to make it special for everyone. This is the next chapter, and we’re going to knock this out of the park.”

Kingston is one of WWE’s longest-tenured talents, and he is a beacon of light and professionalism, helping set the standard for hard work over his 15 years with the company. In many ways, he is WWE’s voice and conscience, always demanding that the company reach more people in new and dynamic ways. And with Big E starting his first reign as world champ, Kingston is genuinely excited for the future of WWE.

“I am filled with joy and pride, especially knowing the caliber of champion he’ll be,” Kingston says. “He has everything it takes to be the face of this company, and now he has the chance to show it.”

More From Justin Barrasso:

Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.