Back in December, WWE made a surprising announcement regarding the future of their company. No more was the role of commissioner and general manager for Raw and SmackDown. Instead, the authority figures would lie within the McMahon family of Vince, Stephanie, Shane and Triple H.
The promise to the fans, in their words, is “something new, something fresh.” And on top of that, they promised the WWE fans that their voice would be heard and that the fans would be “the authority.”
And in the months following, the WWE fans got what they wanted. They clamored for Seth Rollins to take the Universal title off Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania and that’s what happened. Becky Lynch was anointed as the people’s choice and she delivered with becoming a double-champ at WrestleMania’s main event over Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey. This is what the people wanted and they got it. The storytelling and buildup was a little rough but the end result was what we all wanted. But the biggest and most unlikeliest story of WrestleMania was Kofi Kingston.
What made this journey to the top for Kingston began simply by pure luck. It was with an injury to Ali that Kingston got a chance to participate in the Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship in February. But it was the SmackDown before the pay-per-view that changed the course of history. With Ali out of the scheduled gauntlet match between all the competitors of the Elimination Chamber, Kingston was inserted into the matchup and had an unbelievable run. Despite not winning the gauntlet match, Kingston’s performance captured the imagination of the WWE fans and it was clear that Kingston was now the fan favorite. The cheers for Kingston was loud at the Elimination Chamber and every SmackDown following, Kingston was the clear favorite. With that, WWE allowed Kingston’s momentum to rise and with some emotional ups and downs (along with two more intense gauntlet matches), Kingston earned his way to WrestleMania.
For many years, Kingston was not considered to be “WWE championship material” and it was for logical reasons. Ever since aligning with The New Day, Kingston has essentially only focused on tag team championships and for the most part, we had all accepted that as the best Kingston would get at this point in his 11-year career. He had runs as United Staes Champion and Intercontinental champion as well but that was really all Kingston did as a singles competitor (outside of his annual Royal Rumble highlights). And for those four years since aligning with The New Day, singles gold was really just a memory of the past. It all changed in a matter of a couple months.
The fans wanted to Kingston to become champion because the idea of it was new. It was fresh. It was something that fans didn’t really didn’t think was even going to happen. It was completely off the radar. But with the voice of the fans, KofiMania was born. And it all was possible because this was what the fans wanted. WWE could not ignore it.
It’s crazy to think that such an organic rise for Kingston would catapult him to an impossible title run. But it was only five years earlier that the exact same organic demand from the fans led Daniel Bryan to his emotional rise to the top of the mountain at WrestleMania. After all, Bryan wasn’t supposed to be in the picture. But the fans wanted it. WWE knew it had to capitalize on the “YES Movement.” And history was made.
As we look back at what happened at this WrestleMania, we can see similarities in Kingston’s journey to what Bryan had five years ago. And all of this was possible because WWE listed to the fans and gave them what they desired. The WWE brass promised the fans in December that they were the authority and because of that, the fans got exactly what they wanted. And how appropriate that it was Bryan (and his “B-plus player” angle) who helped Kingston’s rise to the top.
Given the landscape of WWE now with the voice of the fan, farfetched ideas are no longer that crazy. Brock Lesnar’s hold on the Universal title is no more because the people wanted it to end. The people wanted “The Man” Becky Lynch on top and they got what they wanted in the main event of WrestleMania. But the most impossible journey for Kofi Kingston is proof that WWE is truly keeping their promise of giving the fans the authority. No idea is too crazy in the WWE. Nothing is off the table on what could happen next.
The future is in the hands of the people. Let’s see what we can come up with next. The possibilities are endless.