The story coming into the WWE title match at WrestleMania on Sun., April 7 was the stuff of legends. Could Kofi Kingston’s 11 years of hard work and determination pay off with the biggest win of his career on the Grandest Stage of Them All? Or would Daniel Bryan, a man once labeled a B+ player, prove that’s all The New Day veteran was?
Just below the surface was the question of if WWE would make the historic decision to put Kofi on the all-too-short list of black World champions?
80,000 people in MetLife Stadium were ready to celebrate before the match even began. It seemed Big E & Xavier Woods might be, too. E had a surprise present set aside at ringside for after the Kingston victory they were expecting.
But the WWE champ wasn’t alone, either. With Rowan by his side, Bryan was ready to fight to keep the hempen belt he’d been carrying since last November. He certainly wouldn’t be distracted by the crown in New Jersey chanting “KofiMania”.
A crowd of SmackDown Superstars watched on a monitor backstage as Kingston got off to a fast start. But after a meeting with his Intellectual Peer at ringside, DB used his renowned technical acumen to put Kof in a Mexican Surfboard. His time in control was short-lived, as The New Day-er’s quickness was too much for him. But Kingston pushed his luck and went for a springboard maneuver which Bryan side-stepped. After Kofi went crashing into the announce desk, the champion got to work inflicting punishment.
Targeting the lower back and midsection of the challenger, Bryan was poised to wake everyone up from their KofiMania dreams. A Boston crab put Kingston in serious jeopardy, but the New England transplant made the ropes. The champ tried to follow that up with a move on the top of the ringpost, but the Dreadlocked Dynamo fought him off, then got a nearfall off a splash that seemed to hurt him as much as it did DB.
Brawling and counters came fast and furious, but ended with Bryan in control. After a mocking YES chant, Kofi evaded the Knee that won DB the titles at WrestleMania 30. But a SOS was countered into the LeBell Lock. Kingston barely got a toe on the bottom rope to break the hold as X & E yelled motivation to their friend.
It worked. Kingston rose through a flurry of strikes to land a few of his own, and landed a street cutter for two. Rowan tried to get involved, but Woods and E eliminated him at ringside.
The crowd was rabid as Kofi lined Bryan up for Trouble in Paradise, but the champ ducked. Then hit the Busaiku knee, but Kingston kicked out!
Things got worse. A LeBell Lock in the middle of the ring locked inescapable. But the fan support gave Kofi the strength to power out! It took him a few more minutes to get free, but when he did, he returned the favor with kicks to the head.
Kingston lined him up, and this time Trouble in Paradise connected. KofiMania could officially be celebrated!
Through their tears, his brothers went to ringside to retrieve their gift - the old WWE title, with Kofi sideplates already in place. Kingston’s boys came into the ring to celebrate with their dad, and The New Day had another present... new merch!
What a ride. What a great, and historic, moment for Kofi, The New Day, people of color, and everyone.
Get complete WrestleMania 35 results and coverage of the entire card here.