Kofi Kingston has been replaced in the upcoming WWE Championship match at Fastlane on March 11. The move took place on the February 26 edition of SmackDown Live, with Vince McMahon giving Kevin Owens the nod over Kingston.
The switch came as a complete shock to the Charlotte crowd, who were chanting Kofi’s name long before SmackDown Live hit the airwaves that night. Kingston has gotten hot over the past few weeks, thanks to the company utilizing him in the place of the recently injured Mustafa Ali. But Kofi is definitely up to the challenge and has delivered every time his name is called.
It’s now obvious that the WWE faithful is fully behind Kingston. But that also means it’s time for WWE to stop him. It’s become a time honored tradition in the company and it’s one that fans should have expected right away with Kingston. WWE loves to throw roadblocks down at every turn and that’s exactly what’s happened here.
The truth is that it continues to happen so often that fans should really expect it on a nightly basis. The days of the popular babyface walking away unscathed and leaving the program with a high note, are virtually nonexistent. WWE’s primary focus is the heels and it really always has been. But then again, why wouldn’t it be?
Watch Kofi lose his spot at WWE Fastlane!
The most uneventful era of any era in Vince McMahon’s company typically involves a babyface world champion. While there are exceptions to the rule, there is no denying that the product tends to become a bit more stale every time a protagonist is on top. It doesn’t have to be this way, of course. Pro wrestling promotions all over the world have featured a babyface on top and have enjoyed success as a result.
But Vince McMahon’s company usually goes all in hard every time. So if a face is the main guy, then he’s probably unstoppable. He’s so good that he’s practically unbeatable and no heel on the roster has a prayer of touching him. It’s as if WWE must reinforce that notion ad nauseam every single time a program is on the air.
The problem is that eventually, fans will turn on that babyface. They grow tired of the same old routine and the guy that they once cheered for soon becomes public enemy No.1. When that happens, the entire heel/babyface dynamic is interrupted. Fans boo the face and cheer the heel. It happened with John Cena. It happened with Roman Reigns and it will probably happen again sooner rather than later. While this issue has grown much more complex over the years, there’s no denying that WWE just cannot seem to get a handle on it.
Watch Kofi team with Owens on SmackDown!
There’s just no drama involved with an unbeatable babyface. WWE begrudgingly gives its audience the hero they want but in the process, they make that hero bulletproof. They’re begging for the crowd to turn on the star in question and the crowd obliges. It’s a vicious circle that keeps replaying itself. WWE cannot simply spotlight a babyface and just leave well enough alone. That face must endure immortal hell, until finally reaching a few moments of heaven.
This is where Kofi Kingston comes in. Kingston may, or may not, have been in WWE’s WrestleMania plans all along. But it’s clear to many that he’s definitely in the mix now. The same is perhaps true of Becky Lynch, who has become one of the hottest stars in the industry. In both cases, two ultra popular babyfaces have risen up and in both cases, WWE has squashed them down.
That’s being done by design of course. Fans can see this from a mile away. But it doesn’t make the situation any less maddening and that’s what WWE counts on. The company wants the fans to be upset that their favorite didn’t go over. They want the fans to keep coming back for more, in hopes that their heroes will finally win the day. But this scenario keeps playing out and at this point, it’s gone far beyond insanity.
Kofi Kingston was popular before his recent push. He and The New Day have been putting smiles on people’s faces for nearly five straight years now. They’re the longest running faction in WWE history and they’ve shown no signs of slowing down. The New Day is one of the most over acts in the company and fans keep coming back to them. But how many of those fans were begging for Kingston to leave and chase the WWE Championship?
Watch Kofi’s wildest leaps in WWE!
Where was this crusade to see Kingston realize his title dreams before The Elimination Chamber? Did fans really want to see Kofi climb that mountain and win it all the whole time? Or was that narrative created by WWE? Kingston’s run to WrestleMania was manufactured by the company because the company needed someone in that spot. But he cannot simply just get there.
He must be tested. But more than that, he must be beaten down, discouraged, dismantled and ultimately, destroyed. This is what WWE does. Fans didn’t ask for any of this. But WWE dangled this in front of them because the confidence was there that Kofi could pull it off and make it work. He did exactly that and now it’s off to the races.
CM Punk’s breakout run in WWE came following a combustible declaration of independence on Monday Night Raw and over time, fans began jumping on his bandwagon. Daniel Bryan’s rise in WWE was a slow burn that simmered over time until it exploded. Becky Lynch’s current run feels a bit more forced to many, as she continues to get pushed down so the company can build her up. Kofi Kingston’s new rise came from out of nowhere and now it’s time for WWE to begin persecuting his character so the fans will have no choice but to support him.
Some would say that the process is sped up to the point of ridiculousness. Fans love babyfaces. WWE wants to create drama. The only way that company can create drama is to visibly hinder its babyfaces. Fans know the drill because they’ve been here before. But if all of this means that Kofi Kingston, an 11-year WWE veteran who’s worked hard, gets to enjoy a run on top? Then it’s all worth it. Whether or not WWE will actually get him there and keep him there, remains to be seen.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Wrestling Rumors. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on iTunes,YouTube, iHeart Radio, boinkstudios.com and live every Friday at 12pm EST on Wrestling Rumors Facebook Live