New Day member and former multiple-time tag-team, United States and Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston opened a real can of worms at the 2012 Royal Rumble. During the event’s signature gauntlet match, he narrowly evaded elimination – which occurs once a competitor is thrown over the top rope and both of their feet touch the floor – with a bit of nifty gymnastics (more on that in a bit). And ever since then, the stakes have been raised, as fans don’t necessarily anticipate that Kingston will emerge the lone survivor, but know for damn sure he’ll cheat defeat at least once in some spectacular way.
So Rolling Stone caught up with the WWE superstar on the road in Tampa, just four days prior to his ninth Rumble-match appearance, and asked him to walk us through the past five years of his phenomenal saves—and the bizarrely recurring theme of relying on very large, hairy men.
January 29, 2012 – Handstand Onto the Steel Steps
“I knew I wasn’t going to win,” Kingston recalls of his first vintage Rumble moment. “But I wanted to make sure people were going to talk about me. What sparked the idea before was when [John] Morrison got knocked off the apron and jumped all the way to the wall and jumped back. He wasn’t with the company the year after that, so in terms of there being an opening, I took upon myself to be like, ‘Let me do something cool.’ I came up with the idea myself, and a lot doubters said, ‘Well, what if you fall?’ And I was like, ‘Well, I’ll be eliminated,’ which is the premise of the match anyway. Luckily, it went the right way.”
January 27, 2013 – Tensai Piggyback Ride Into Pogo On JBL’s Chair
“It’s really a collective effort for which I wind up getting the shine,” Kingston points out as he recollects riding the shoulders of “hairy-man Tensai with his oversized head, swinging around. It’s like being on a bucking bronco. And a shoutout to JBL for actually giving me his chair. If he didn’t, I probably would have stayed out on the table, so luckily, everyone’s willing to give in to the excitement.”
January 26, 2014 – Landing In Rusev’s Arms, Leaping From Barricade To Apron
“He’s a loose canon,” Kingston laughs about Rusev. “So you just don’t ever quite know what’s going to happen. Luckily, he put me on the barrier and didn’t drop me on the floor, which he actually did in the match we just had this past Monday. Right place, right time. Anything can go wrong. What if a fan in the front row decides to get smart and trip me up? I could slip off. So at that moment, when it went silent, I did start to have a little bit of butterflies, a ‘here we go’ moment, but I’m glad it all worked out.”
January 25, 2015 – Tossed By Rusev Into A Sea Of Rosebuds
“Adam Rose used to roll deep with his crew,” Kingston says of the former WWE superstar. “And again, they happened to be in the right place at the right time. But all I’m doing is falling and then literally getting carried around the ring, so lady luck is smiling down once again. It all comes down to what’s out there at the time that I am.”
January 24, 2016 – Clotheslined By Kane Onto Big E’s Shoulders
“Being on [Big E’s] shoulders and going around the ring eating popcorn went hand-in-hand with what the New Day is all about,” Kofi reflects about his Rumble moments since allying with Big E and Xavier Woods. “Just having fun, bringing the crowd into the matches. For me to, at that point, still be in the actual Rumble and be in the crowd chillin’ with fans is a pretty cool moment, not only for myself but for the fans. It’s almost like they’re in the match. That’s as close as you can get if you have a live, active participant eating your popcorn. The adrenaline keeps the germs at bay. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
January 29, 2017—???
“The best trick of all would be to actually win the Rumble,”Kingston says of his upcoming ninth appearance in the match. “Hopefully [New Day] all get in there at the same time. I think we’d pretty much be able to run the table.”