Kofi Kingston: Wrestlemania, returning to Ghana, performing in Saudi Arabia, and the prospect of Brock Lesnar

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Kofi Kingston will face Dolph Ziggler at Super ShowDown

Kofi Kingston is one of the feel-good WWE stories of 2019.

The hard-working fan favourite who finally got his opportunity, and snatched it with both hands.

Now with the WWE Championship in his possession, Kofi has found himself pulling double duty on RAW and Smackdown for the last few weeks, and with a pretty sizable target on his back.

So is it difficult for the New Day member moving from the comfort of having your best friends beside you week-in week-out to having more of a singles mentality?

“It’s always tough, but this is what I have always wanted. I have always the chance to carry the ball,” he tells Sport360 –  with the air of a man who has waited decades for this chance – because he has, and is determined to not let it slip.

The night he won the title at Wrestlemania will live long in the memory. A flood of emotion, both in the ring and outside it, that only now is he really beginning to step back from and appreciate.

“I actually got a list of questions from Dana Warrior and in them were some about my family and Wrestlemania, and this was really the first time I had taken an in-depth look at how I actually felt,” he said. “You don’t really get a lot of time to think about it, as you are right back on the road so I didn’t get the chance to properly digest things.

“Answering these questions made me think about how it made me feel and it’s still as amazing for me on the inside as it was the night. It was an amazing moment for me and for so many other people.

“Winning the WWE Championship was a goal of mine since I was a little kid and to do that on the Grandest Stage of Them All against one of the greatest superstars in the history of WWE in Daniel Bryan, and then to be able to share that moment with Big E, Xavier was so special.

“Having my family in there was awesome. It was the first time my dad was at a Wrestlemania. My wife and kids were there, it was just incredible. I still get goosebumps talking about it now.

“I could not have had a better Wrestlemania than I did, and it’s a memory I will always have and always cherish.”

And, while being the Champ comes with its own heavy workload and pressures, there is a number of doors it can open too.

Kofi is famously of Ghanaian descent and has not visited for more than a quarter of a century – something he will put right later this month. It is clear what an emotional and personally important trip this will be.

“The last time I was there was 1993 or 1994,” he said. “I had the chance to go back after my third year in college – my dad took a bunch of people from college over to Ghana every summer and I opted not to go as I wanted to file for jobs and get ready for real life as an adult, and it’s one of my biggest regrets that I didn’t go.

“Now it means so much more going back there as WWE Champion, and seeing people and showing that anything is possible. That’s a powerful feeling and I really can’t wait to go back and get in touch with my roots – it’s been too long and I can’t wait to be back there.”

Swiftly following the trip to Africa, Kofi will be joining his fellow superstars for Super ShowDown in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, which, takes place on June 7.

Following on from the events of this week’s Smackdown, we now know he will be taking on the returning Dolph Ziggler – whose sneak attack forced the match to be made soon after the show.

However, for Kofi, a trip to the Middle East is a lot more than what goes on between the ropes. Last year he was one of the first Superstars on the ground in the Kingdom and it made for an experience he will never forget.

“The crowd and the energy is incredible,” he said.  “I love going to Saudi Arabia because the energy is just awesome It’s almost like a second Wrestlemania over there with the pyro and all the events that go on, it’s an incredible experience and has a special place in my heart.

“I was part of the promotional tour before the event and was able to go there and meet the people, embrace the culture and it was one of the greatest experiences of my WWE career.

“I did one event with some kids and young adults and they were telling me how they didn’t actually believe we would come, they thought it would be cancelled last minute, so the fact we have gone there takes on a whole new meaning for the development of the country. I look forward to every single time we go there.”

Should everything go well and he comes away with his clash with the ShowOff unscathed, there may be an even bigger challenge on the horizon.

Brock Lesnar is now the proud owner of the Money in the Bank briefcase and while many will look to Seth Rollins on RAW as the man he would likely cash in against, there is always a chance he could shift to the Blue Brand – a challenge Kofi actively encourages.

“Contrary to a lot of people’s opinions I’m really excited about Brock Lesnar being Mr Money in the Bank,” he said. “For me personally as WWE Champion, it took so long to get here and that was a mountain to climb, but getting to the top is just the beginning.

“I don’t want to just be any old WWE Champion. I want to be remembered as one of the greatest of all time.

“Brock Lesnar is unquestionably a Hall of Famer. He is somebody who you hear their name and you just feel something, you get emotional. Some people get scared, some get excited, but he is one of the guys who has been around a while and made a huge impact on WWE and culture in general.

“To go up against Brock and beat him would be amazing and solidify my legacy and be another notch on my belt as far as being WWE Champion is concerned.”

WWE Super ShowDown takes place on Friday, June 7 at 9 pm AST at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Tickets are available this Sunday, May 19 at 7 pm AST via www.sharek.sa. Ticket prices start at 25 SAR.

Additional details on the event’s matches and regional broadcast information will be announced in the coming weeks.

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