WWE’s “Money in the Bank” pay-per-view is coming up on Sunday night live from Kansas City, and WWE Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston will be competing in one of two MITB Ladder matches against seven other Smackdown superstars. I had a chance to chat with Kofi about the event, his role as an “NXT” pro, and one of his career highlights.
So… Big Show, Kane, your “good friend” Drew McIntyre…it looks like you’re going to have your hands full on Sunday night.
It’s going to be an awesome, awesome pay-per-view. Money in the Bank traditionally is the match that’s the most anticipated on the Wrestlemania card…you have eight guys who all have to climb a ladder and get the briefcase at the top of the ladder; there’s a contract… you get a title match at any time of your choosing, which is very valuable. Anyone who’s won the MITB ladder match has won and become World Champion.
The thing about the MITB PPV, it’s the first time we’ve ever done this. You’re not only getting one, but two MITB ladder matches. So, it’s going to be awesome. We’re all looking forward to it, we’re all getting pumped up…and we’re ready to take it to the limit.
I’d have to imagine wearing two straps wouldn’t be a bad thing?
Oh no….I’ve got two shoulders, man…the other one gets kind of lonely sometimes, so… I’d love to add some more gold to my repertoire.
It gets pretty chaotic in the ring during these matches with every man for himself. How do you prepare for a ladder match knowing that no one’s “playing nice?”
You just have to be ready to go all out…and you’re going to go through some pain…a lot of times there’s one opportunity and there’s one… window…that you have to try and climb through at the right time…there’s really no formal preparation, but… it’s a huge opportunity and we’re all going to try and take advantage of it.
You were drafted to SmackDown earlier this year, and you’ve been a member of the Raw roster, and of course before that ECW…does it ultimately matter to you and the other wrestlers what brand they are on?
[Jokingly] I always think that the better brand is the one I’m actually on…as far as it mattering which brand I’m on, it doesn’t really matter as long as I’m out there and I get to perform in front of the WWE Universe; then I’m cool.
This year, you’ve added some job responsibilities as one of the pros on “NXT”…mentoring Michael Mc Gillicutty who I believe is still undefeated in Season 2. Give us a little scouting report…what do you see so far that you like and what would an area of improvement be for him?
Michael is very, very focused and as you know, he’s the son of “Mr. Perfect” (the late Curt Hennig), so he has a lot to… live up to…now he realizes that, but at the same time, he’s really starting to make his own mark, and really wanting to stand out; he puts a lot of pressure on himself.
I think he’s definitely one of the guys who’s more talented on that show. He’s really excited to be there.
As far as disadvantages he might have, I think he may be a little overzealous sometimes…sometimes as a rookie you want to make such a good impression that you go all out and you’re not cautious. I think maybe sometimes he could be a little bit more cautious. But definitely, it’s also easier to have someone pull back then to push them forward, so I’m looking forward to see what he’s going to do in the next few weeks.
You had a pretty quick rise up the ranks yourself…not a lot of time in the “minor leagues,” so to speak, before debuting full-time in ECW back in 2007. Who were some of the people that mentored you early on in your career?
Early on, the guy who broke me into the business was a guy named Mike Hollow. When I trained up in Boston, I was really, really fortunate to have him. He was probably the best trainer on the East Coast…he gave me a very good foundation to build upon. I’ve also had great teachers like Bill DeMott, Dr. Tom Pritchard, Steve Kern, Billy Kidman…I’ve just been real fortunate to have been around some really good people who were very knowledgeable and were willing to pass on their knowledge to me. So I definitely try to soak it all up and become as good as I can get.
Not a whole lot of “kayfabe” left in professional wrestling these days…but when you revealed that you were actually from Ghana and not Jamaica as you were billed for your first few years in WWE…did you worry at first what fans would think about the switch?
You know, to be honest…not at all. And the whole reason that I came out with the whole Jamaican thing was because Jamaica did have a big influence on my life as far as the music, and the culture, and the laid-back attitude.
So, you know, when I came to WWE I wanted to do something that was unique as well as a tribute to kind of what had a big influence on my life.
As far as the fans and the WWE Universe’s response to it, I know that they didn’t like me because I was “Jamaican,” it wasn’t’ like `oh there’s a Jamaican guy, oh I want to like him.” It was more the things I did in the ring and my style, and just being unique in there I think was what people gravitated to more. As far as where I’m from, I don’t think people really cared too much about that, do you know what I mean?
You’re a man of few words…you just go out and take care of your business without a whole lot of trash-talking. I was at Madison Square Garden a few weeks ago and there’s no doubt that you’re a fan-favorite. Obviously you blow away the theory that in addition to the ring work, a wrestler has to spend a ton of time on the mic to make a connection with the fans.
Yeah man, I’ve had a few opportunities…I mean yeah, I think again it’s being able to go out there and entertain people and do things that are different and things that people haven’t seen that’s definitely very important.
Now, mic work is also very important too, and I haven’t had very many opportunities to be on the mic, when I do it’s kind of an advantage to get on the mic and I do have have something to say, people want to listen.
It’s tough to picture but have you ever thought about what it would be like to work as a heel?
The whole face and heel deal has really kind of been blurred these days…Stone Cold Steve Austin, when he came out and…kind of was just real brash…you know, a decade back, that wouldn’t have been considered a “bad guy” role. But…times change, and as far as me being in that role, I guess it’s going to come down to the WWE Universe and however they perceive me…again, it’s one of those things… we’ll have to see what happens.
One of my favorite moments last year was when you were feuding with Randy Orton…it was “Monday Night Raw” at Madison Square Garden and you guys brawled outside the ring where you hit a “Boom Drop” (one of his signature moves) off the railing sending Randy through the table…the crowd went crazy. What was that moment like for you?
Yeah, it was awesome. It was definitely one of my career highlights. And just to be in Madison Square Garden in and of itself was awesome. What a lot of people forget about…is that there was a brief moment… Randy was about to attack Roddy Piper at the beginning… that’s how this whole thing started. I came out to save Piper and then me and Randy went into our thing.
But just to be in there, number one in the same ring with Roddy Piper in Madison Square Garden even if it was only for a couple of seconds, was awesome for me. And then…Randy and I got into our thing and then just brawled throughout the whole arena.
Now, Madison Square Garden as a lot of people know is one of those arenas that’s kind of still the same as it was. You know, when we used to watch… wrestling at MSG, it looked the same way that it does today, so it’s almost like we’re kind of living out a childhood dream…a childhood moment, when you go in there.
Again, just to be involved in that moment…and when I put Randy through that table and looked up at the crowd, everyone was cheering…it was just… an awesome moment for me and I’m glad I was able to be a part of it.
Coming up Monday on Sirius XM Radio’s “Busted Open…” WWE Superstar John Cena joins us live at 3PM, Eastern. Catch the show on Sirius 125/XM 241 from 2-4PM, Eastern.
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Written by Pete Copeland