Kofi Nahaje Sarkodie-Mensah (August 14, 1981) is a Ghanaian-American professional wrestler. He is signed to WWE, where he performs on the Smackdown brand under the ring name Kofi Kingston, where he is a former WWE Champion. He is the first African-born WWE Champion.
He is also a four-time WWE Intercontinental Champion, a three-time WWE United States Champion, a eight-time WWE Tag Team Champion (once with Evan Bourne as Air Boom, once with R-Truth) and six times as a member of The New Day and a one time World Tag Team Champion with CM Punk. He is also known for his novel means of circumventing his elimination from Royal Rumble matches.
Kofi Sarkodie-Mensah was born near the city of Kumasi in the Ashanti region of Ghana. His family immigrated to the United States in 1982 when he was only one year old, and grew up in Boston, Massachusetts. Upon graduating from Boston College, Sarkodie-Mensah initially worked in an office before deciding to train as a professional wrestler. His father, Kwasi, works at the college.
Professional wrestling career
Early career (2006)
Sarkodie-Mensah made his official wrestling debut in 2006, when he faced Tony Omeg at Chaotic Wrestling on February 24. He faced Evan Siks on June 4 for the PWF Mayhem Heavyweight Championship. He competed primarily in the New England area, including stints in National Wrestling Alliance – New England (where he was briefly a member of Barry Ace's "A-List"), Millennium Wrestling Federation, New England Championship Wrestling, the Eastern Wrestling Alliance, and Chaotic Wrestling.
World Wrestling Entertainment/WWE
Developmental territories (2006–2007)
In September 2006, he signed a developmental contract with WWE and was assigned to Deep South Wrestling (DSW), a Georgia-based developmental federation. He debuted in the new company, as Kofi Nahaje Kingston, in a dark match loss to Montel Vontavious Porter on September 21. For the rest of 2006 and the beginning of 2007, he appeared in DSW, as well as its Kentucky-based sister promotion Ohio Valley Wrestling, where he was in a tag team dubbed the Commonwealth Connection with Harry Smith. In 2007, under the ring name Kofi Nahaje Kingson, he had his first exposure to the main WWE roster, when he worked dark matches on March 5 and 26 before episodes of Raw against Charlie Haas and Trevor Murdoch, respectively. When he returned to the developmental federations, he shortened his original ring name to Kofi Kingston and continued to alternate between both ring names throughout his duration there. He also worked live events, defeating Shelton Benjamin on May 5, and Val Venis on May 6.
When the Florida-based developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling opened in June, Kingston was relocated there, appearing at their inaugural show on June 26 where he teamed with Eric Pérez against Keith Walker and Rycklon Stephens in a losing effort. Kingston worked there for most of the remainder of the year.
A series of vignettes for Kingston's television debut began airing on the weekly ECW on Syfy television show starting on December 6, 2007. During this introduction phase, his videos, the official website and commentators noted he would be the first Jamaican to wrestle for WWE. He debuted on the January 22, 2008 ECW as a face with a win over local wrestler David Owen in Charlottesville, Virginia. After wrestling sporadic matches, Kingston was involved in his first major match, a 24-man battle royal during the WrestleMania XXIV pre-show with the winner receiving an ECW Championship match, but was eliminated by Mark Henry. Kingston remained undefeated in singles competition in ECW for months and was placed into a feud with Shelton Benjamin at the end of April 2008. After two straight losses, Benjamin got a win over Kingston on the May 20 ECW, ending his undefeated streak. On the June 24 ECW, Kingston defeated Benjamin in an Extreme Rules match to end their feud.
Championship reigns and feuding with Orton (2008–2010)
As part of the 2008 WWE Supplemental Draft, Kingston was drafted to the Raw brand. In his first match as a member of Raw roster, he defeated Chris Jericho for the Intercontinental Championship at Night of Champions. The win made him the first Ghanaian wrestler to hold a championship in World Wrestling Entertainment and it was also the first Championship in his wrestling career. Kingston held the championship until SummerSlam, where he and Women's Champion Mickie James both lost their championships in an intergender "winner take all" tag team match to Beth Phoenix and Santino Marella.
At Unforgiven, he appeared backstage, coming to the aid of then-World Heavyweight Champion CM Punk, who had been attacked by Manu, Randy Orton, and the World Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase. Soon after coming to his rescue, Punk and Kingston were paired together more often, and on the October 27 Raw, the duo won the World Tag Team Championship. He was also involved at Survivor Series in the traditional ten-men elimination tag team match on the side of Team Batista, but was eliminated by Orton. Kingston and Punk lost the World Tag Team Championship to John Morrison and The Miz at a WWE live event on December 13.
At No Way Out in 2009, Kingston won a spot in the World Heavyweight Championship Elimination Chamber by defeating Kane, but was unable to officially enter the match, as he was ambushed by Edge, who took Kingston's place and eventually won the match.
Kingston defeated Chris Jericho, after interference from Ric Flair, to earn a spot in the Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania XXV, but the match was won by CM Punk. After winning a Triple Threat Number One Contender's match the week before, Kingston defeated Montel Vontavious Porter on the June 1 Raw to win the United States Championship. For the next several months, he went on to defend and retain his title at pay-per-views such as Extreme Rules, Night of Champions, Breaking Point, and WWE Hell in a Cell, until losing the championship to The Miz on the October 5 Raw, ending his four-month reign. On the October 12 Raw, Kingston defeated Evan Bourne to qualify for Team Raw at WWE Bragging Rights. Team Raw lost the match, however, when the Big Show betrayed them by chokeslamming Kingston, allowing Chris Jericho to pick up the win for Team SmackDown.
During WWE Bragging Rights, Kingston and Raw teammate Cody Rhodes argued about Kingston losing their match. So, when Rhodes and Ted DiBiase interfered on Randy Orton's behalf during his WWE Championship match, Kingston ran out with a chair and chased them out of the arena. Orton later lost the match. On the October 26 Raw, Kingston began a feud with Orton, who believed Kingston cost him the WWE Championship. After Kingston defeated Chris Jericho, Orton attacked him from behind, eventually throwing him against the side of the entrance ramp. Later that night, Kingston destroyed Orton's car (as well as being the first time he would speak without a caribbean accent). On the November 16 Raw, Kingston saved guest host "Rowdy" Roddy Piper from an assault by Orton then performed a Boom Drop from a rail in the crowd onto Orton, through a table. Kingston went on to lead his Survivor Series team to victory against Orton's team, where he was the sole survivor, last eliminating Orton. On the November 30 Raw, Kingston was scheduled to face Orton in a one on one match, only to be assaulted from behind by Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase. Despite the assault, Kingston still wished to continue, and was quickly defeated by Orton. The following week, Kingston defeated Orton in a rematch where guest host Mark Cuban, who had a grudge against Orton since their encounter at Survivor Series in 2003 when Orton performed an RKO on him, gave Kingston a fast count. With one victory apiece, the two wrestled again at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, and Orton won. On the December 28 Raw, Orton interfered in Kingston's match for the United States Championship. On the January 4 Raw, Orton once again defeated Kingston. The next week, Kingston and John Cena lost a Triple Threat match, which determined a challenger for Sheamus' WWE Championship at Royal Rumble, to Randy Orton, who pinned Kingston. On the February 1 Raw, Kingston won a qualifying match by defeating the Big Show via disqualification to advance to the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber match at the inaugural Elimination Chamber event. Kingston, however, failed to win after being eliminated by Sheamus. The following night on the February 22 episode of Raw, Kingston teamed up with Yoshi Tatsu and Evan Bourne against Randy Orton, Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes in a six-man tag team match. During the match, Orton turned face by attacking Rhodes and DiBiase, which Orton allowed Kingston, Tatsu and Bourne to win.
Kingston and Orton would rekindle their rivalry sporadically in the subsequent years, with Orton winning most of those match ups. Kingston defeated Orton cleanly in their last singles match on the January 13, 2014 episode of Raw.
Intercontinental and United States Champion (2010–2011)
On the March 22 episode of Raw, Kingston defeated Vladimir Kozlov to qualify for the Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania XXVI. At the event however, Kingston was unsuccessful as the match was won by Jack Swagger. On April 26, as part of the 2010 WWE Draft, Kingston was drafted to the SmackDown brand. In his debut match for the brand, he defeated Chris Jericho. On the following SmackDown, Kingston was entered into a four-man tournament for the vacant Intercontinental Championship after Drew McIntyre had been stripped of the title earlier in the show. He went on to defeat Dolph Ziggler in the first match of the tournament. Christian defeated Cody Rhodes in the second match. As a result, Kingston faced and defeated Christian in the finals of the tournament to seemingly win his second Intercontinental Championship on the May 14 SmackDown. However, moments later, McIntyre came out with a letter, signed by Vince McMahon, saying that Theodore Long was irresponsible and abused his power. The letter also stated that McIntyre was reinstated to the active roster and that Kingston was stripped of the Intercontinental Championship, which returned to McIntyre.
At Over the Limit, Kingston defeated McIntyre to win his second official Intercontinental Championship. Kingston mentored Michael McGillicutty on the second season of WWE NXT. At Fatal 4 Way, Kofi defended the Intercontinental Championship against Drew McIntyre. On July 18 at Money in the Bank, Kingston lost the SmackDown Money in the Bank ladder match when Kane grabbed the briefcase. The following SmackDown, Kingston lost to Dolph Ziggler in a non-title match. On the July 30 SmackDown, Kingston faced Ziggler in a rematch but lost via disqualification, resulting in Ziggler earning a title match. On August 6 SmackDown, Ziggler defeated Kingston to win the Intercontinental Championship. Kingston got his rematch for the title August 15 at Summerslam, which ended in a no contest after The Nexus interfered. On the August 20 Smackdown, Kingston faced Ziggler once again for the Intercontinental Championship defeating Ziggler by disqualification, but by rule, Ziggler retained his Intercontinental Championship. The following week, Kingston faced Ziggler once again for the Intercontinental Championship, with the match stipulation that if Ziggler was disqualified, the title would change hands. Vickie Guerrero intervened during the match and got Ziggler counted out, so he kept the title. At Night of Champions, Ziggler again faced Kingston for the title; if Dolph was either counted out or disqualified, Kofi would win the title. Ziggler retained by pinfall. On the October 15 Smackdown, Kingston defeated Drew McIntyre to earn a spot on Team Smackdown at Bragging Rights. Team SmackDown won the match, with Edge and Rey Mysterio the final survivors.
On the December 3 SmackDown, Kingston defeated Jack Swagger to become the number one contender for the Intercontinental Championship but failed to win back the title when Swagger attacked him during the match. At TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, Kingston and Swagger lost a ladder match for the title, as he and Swagger unhooked the belt but dropped it to the mat and Ziggler grabbed it for the win. On the January 7, 2011 SmackDown, Kingston defeated Dolph Ziggler to become the Intercontinental Champion for a third time. Immediately following the match, acting General Manager Vickie Guerrero ordered that Ziggler invoke his rematch clause straight away, but Kingston quickly pinned Ziggler again to retain his championship. Kingston then moved into a feud with Alberto Del Rio, which culminated in a non-title match at Elimination Chamber which Kingston lost. On March 22 at the tapings of the March 25 SmackDown, Kingston lost the Intercontinental Championship to Wade Barrett. On April 1 SmackDown, Kingston won his rematch against Wade Barrett by disqualification. After Vladimir Kozlov was injured at the hands of The Corre, Kingston was chosen as Kozlov's replacement in an eight-man tag team match involving Kofi, Kane, Big Show and Santino Marella versus The Corre at WrestleMania 27, which Kingston's team won.
On April 26, 2011, Kingston was drafted back to the Raw brand as part of the 2011 Supplemental Draft. On May 1, Kingston defeated Sheamus in a Tables Match at Extreme Rules to win his second United States Championship, in the process returning the title to Raw. On the May 9 Raw, Kingston successfully defended his championship against Jack Swagger. At WWE Capitol Punishment, Kingston lost the title to Dolph Ziggler. Kingston faced Ziggler in a rematch for the title on the June 20 Raw in a 2-out-of-3 Falls match, but Ziggler retained the United States Championship as the match ended with Ziggler being disqualified.
WWE Tag Team Champion (2011–2012)
On the August 22 Raw, Kingston won the WWE Tag Team Championship with Evan Bourne when they defeated David Otunga and Michael McGillicutty. On the August 29 Raw, the duo was called "Air Boom", and they had their first successful title defense when they defeated Otunga and McGillicutty in a rematch. At Night of Champions Air Boom retained their titles against The Miz & R-Truth by disqualification after Miz attacked a WWE referee. At Hell in a Cell and Vengeance, Air Boom retained their titles twice against Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger. Bourne was suspended throughout November for his first violation of the company's Wellness policy. At TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs Air Boom successfully retained their titles against Primo and Epico. On January 15, 2012, Air Boom lost the Tag Team titles to Primo and Epico at a house show. The following night on Raw, Air Boom were awarded a rematch but failed to regain the titles. The following day, Bourne was suspended again for his second violation of WWE's Wellness Policy.
At Royal Rumble, Kingston participated in the Royal Rumble match and although he did not win, he had a stand-out moment when he saved himself from elimination by walking on his hands to reach the ring steps and re-enter the ring. At Elimination Chamber, Kingston failed to capture the WWE Championship after being eliminated third by Chris Jericho. Kingston then began teaming with R-Truth, facing the likes of Primo and Epico and Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger which they both won and lost, respectively. On the February 27 Raw, Kingston and Truth failed to capture the WWE Tag Team Championship from Primo and Epico in a Triple Threat Tag Team Match, also involving Ziggler and Swagger. On the April 30 Raw, Kingston and Truth defeated Primo and Epico to win the WWE Tag Team Championship. At Over the Limit, Kingston and R-Truth successfully defended the titles against Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger and then again in a rematch on the May 28 Raw. In the pre-show of Money in the Bank, Kingston and Truth defeated Hunico and Camacho in a non-title match. The following night on Raw, they successfully defended the WWE Tag Team Championship against Prime Time Players (Titus O'Neil and Darren Young). At SummerSlam, Kingston and Truth defeated Prime Time Players to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship. At Night of Champions, Kingston and Truth lost the Tag Team Championship to the team of Daniel Bryan and Kane and failed to regain the titles from the new champions the following night on Raw. Both Kingston and Truth were defeated by The Primetime Players in the first round of the Tag Team Tournament to determine the number one contenders for the Tag Team Championships, causing both Kingston and Truth to disband as a team and each returning to being single competitors.
Championship reigns and pursuits (2012–2014)
After defeating Michael McGillicutty on the October 10 episode of WWE Main Event, Kingston was confronted and insulted by commentator and Intercontinental Champion The Miz, prompting Kingston to challenge for the title which Miz accepted. The following week on Raw, Kingston defeated Miz in a non-title match. Two days later on Main Event, Kingston defeated Miz to win the Intercontinental Championship for the fourth time in his career. Kingston then defeated Miz in two rematches, the first on October 28 at Hell in a Cell, and the second on the November 6 SmackDown to retain his title. Kingston then began feuding with Wade Barrett when the two were placed on opposing teams in the traditional five-on-five elimination tag team match on November 18 at Survivor Series. Kingston's team, led by Mick Foley, was defeated by Barrett's team, led by Dolph Ziggler, during which he was eliminated by Barrett. The following night on Raw, Kingston was defeated by Barrett in a non-title match. Four days later on SmackDown, Kingston defeated Damien Sandow to retain the Intercontinental Championship whilst Barrett was on commentary. Kingston, still the Intercontinental Champion, received a shot at the United States Championship on the December 3 Raw, against champion Antonio Cesaro, R-Truth, and Wade Barrett in a fatal four-way match, but was unsuccessful after Cesaro pinned Kingston for the win. On December 16 at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, Kingston successfully defended his title against Barrett. Two weeks later on the December 31 Raw, Kingston lost the Intercontinental Championship to Barrett. Kingston received his rematch four days later on SmackDown, but was again defeated by Barrett. At the 2013 Royal Rumble event, Kingston had another stand-out moment in the Rumble match. After eliminating Tensai, he was pushed out of the ring but Kingston jumped on Tensai's back, landed on the announce table and used an office chair from John "Bradshaw" Layfield to hop to the ring apron before being eliminated by Cody Rhodes.
On the April 12 SmackDown, Kingston defeated United States Champion Antonio Cesaro in a non-title match. Three days later on Raw, Kingston defeated Cesaro to win his third United States Championship. Kingston made his first televised title defense on the May 1 Main Event, defeating Cesaro in a rematch. On May 19 at Extreme Rules, Kingston lost the United States Championship to Dean Ambrose of The Shield, ending his reign at 35 days. Kingston received his rematch on the following SmackDown, defeating Ambrose via disqualification after Shield members Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins interfered, but not regaining the title as a result. The Shield would continue their assault on Kingston until Randy Orton and Sheamus made the save. Theodore Long then came out to set up a six-man tag team match that ended with Ambrose pinning Kingston for the win. Three days later on Raw, Kingston failed again to reclaim the United States Championship from Ambrose. Four days later on SmackDown, Kingston was defeated by Ryback and was afterwards, powerbombed through three tables by him, injuring Kingston in storyline. This was done to write Kingston out, as he was undergoing elbow surgery and was expected to be out for four to eight weeks. Kingston returned from injury, sporting new gear on the August 5 Raw, defeating Fandango. On the September 6 episode of SmackDown, Kingston defeated Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel in a non-title match, thus earning him a future title match. Kingston received his title shot on September 15 at Night of Champions, but was defeated by Axel. In late September, Bray Wyatt would start delivering cryptic messages to Kingston after his matches, leading to a match between the two on October 6 at Battleground, which Wyatt won. On the October 18 SmackDown, Kingston and Miz lost to Eric Rowan and Luke Harper in a tag team match. The following week on Raw, Kingston and Miz lost to the Real Americans after Miz turned on Kingston. At Survivor Series, Kofi was defeated by The Miz. In the upcoming weeks, Kingston would lose to The Miz in multiple matches. Kingston would finally win a rematch against The Miz at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs in a No Disqualification Match. On the January 13 episode of Raw, Kingston defeated WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton in a non-title match; he faced Orton again the following week, but allowed himself to lose by disqualification by holding Orton in place to allow John Cena to attack Orton for attacking his father.
Kingston entered at #8 at the Royal Rumble, and once again performed an amazing feat of avoiding elimination by landing on the crowd barricade and made an 11-foot jump to get back in the ring. He was later the seventh person eliminated by Roman Reigns. On the February 13 episode of Smackdown, Kingston would tap out to Jack Swagger in a number one contender's match for the Intercontinental Championship in a match also featuring Mark Henry and Rey Mysterio; on the March 21 episode of SmackDown, Kingston was announced in the Andre the Giant memorial battle royal at WrestleMania XXX. Kingston would have a standout moment in the match, getting thrown of over the turnbuckles by Cesaro and to avoid elimination by keeping his toes on the steel steps, he would later be eliminated by Sheamus. At Payback, Kingston would compete in a match against Bo Dallas, but he would be assaulted by Kane for his tweets against Stephanie McMahon. Kingston defeated Cesaro by reversing the Neutralizer into a sunset flip rollup for the win on the June 30 episode of Raw. Kingston was in a rematch with Cesaro, which he won on the July 7 episode of Raw. Kingston competed in the Intercontinental Championship Battle Royal at Battleground where he again avoided elimination by being caught by Big E and rode his shoulders to the ring. Despite this, he did not win.
The New Day (2014–present)
On the July 21, 2014 episode of Raw, after Big E and Kingston suffered another loss as a team, Xavier Woods confronted them, declaring that they could not "get ahead by kissing babies and shaking hands". Instead, it would be "their time" to "take". The duo accepted Woods' offer, and on the next day's Main Event, Woods managed Big E and Kingston to a decisive victory over Heath Slater and Titus O'Neil. However, Woods' group quickly and quietly disbanded, as on the August 8 episode of SmackDown and on the August 12 episode of Main Event, both Big E and then Kingston reverted to wrestling singles matches with no sign or mention of the other two members of the group. Despite being disbanded on WWE television, Big E, Kingston and Woods continued their alliance at live events. In October, WWE began airing vignettes for Kingston, Woods and Big E, with the stable now being billed as "The New Day" (A name invented by Chris Jericho). The New Day eventually made their in-ring debut on the November 28, 2014 episode of SmackDown in a winning effort against Titus O'Neil, Heath Slater and Curtis Axel. The trio have started a feud with Gold and Stardust, after their interfering ways cost Kingston and Big E an important tag team turmoil match. A match between the two teams was scheduled for the Kick-Off of TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs on December 14, where Big E and Kingston defeated Gold and Stardust. In March 2015, The New Day participated in two matches on the pre-show to WrestleMania 31 in a losing effort. on 6 April 2015 Kofi Kingston turned heel for the first time in his WWE Career while he got involved in the tag team match with a cheap shot but the New Day lost the match against The Lucha Dragons.
Kofi Sarkodie-Mensah began wrestling professionally in 2005, under the ring name of Kofi Nahaje Kingston. Kingston's country of birth was billed as Jamaica because of Bob Marley and reggae music. Kofi has training in the Brazilian martial art of capoeira. He is married and has a son. In 2012, Kingston appeared on an episode of Disney XD's karate sitcom Kickin' It. He is a fan of the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots.
- Finishing moves
- Trouble in Paradise (Spinning roundhouse kick)
- Signature moves
- Boom Drop
- Double foot stomp
- Float-over DDT
- Flying forearm smash
- Jumping back elbow
- Koronco buster
- Leaping clothesline, sometimes while springboarding
- Leaping mounted punches followed up a European uppercut
- Monkey flip
- Multiple crossbody variations
- Pendulum kick from out of the corner, as a counter to an oncoming opponent
- Reverse suplex
- Russian legsweep
- Somersault plancha
- Suicide dive
- Tornado DDT, sometimes while springboarding
- Two-handed chop
- With R-Truth
- "The Dreadlocked Dynamo"
- "The Wildcat"
- "The Boom Squad General"
- Entrance themes
- "Confrontation" by Damian Marley (CTC/DSW)
- "S.O.S." performed by Collie Buddz and composed by Jim Johnston (WWE; January 22, 2008 – July 20, 2014)
- "Born to SOS" by Mutiny Within and Collie Buddz (September 5, 2011 – October 3; used while a part of Air Boom)
- "Boom" by Jim Johnston (October 7, 2011 – January 16, 2012; used while a part of Air Boom)
- "New Day, New Way" by Jim Johnston (November 28, 2014–present; used while a part of The New Day)
Championships and accomplishments
- CBS Sports
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- World Wrestling Entertainment
- WWE Championship (1 time)
- World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with CM Punk
- WWE Intercontinental Championship (4 times)
- WWE Tag Team Championship (4 times) – with Evan Bourne (1), R-Truth (1) and as a member of The New Day w/ Big E & Xavier Woods (2)
- WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship (4 times, Current) As a member of The New Day w/ Big E & Xavier Woods
- WWE United States Championship (3 times)
- Thirtieth Triple Crown Champion
- Twentieth Grand Slam Champion
- Slammy Award for "Tell Me I Did Not Just See That" Moment of the Year (2012) Hand walking during the Royal Rumble match to avoid elimination