Over the last couple of years, many people have wanted to see Kofi Kingston pushed into the main event. He seemed to be on the verge of breaking through the proverbial glass ceiling in late 2009 and 2010 during his feud with Randy Orton.
However, the closest Kingston got to the main event was participating in the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber match at the 2010 and 2012 events, and competing in Money in the Bank matches, but lost all of them.
His career was on a steady incline: starting as a rookie, working his way up to the card, winning the secondary and tag team titles on multiple occasions, but he wasn’t able to move any further.
Kingston debuted on WWE’s ECW brand back in early 2008. He remained undefeated in singles competition until May during his feud with Shelton Benjamin. After being drafted to Raw in the 2008 supplemental draft, Kingston’s career took off. In his first match on the Raw roster, he defeated Chris Jericho at Night of Champions for the Intercontinental title. He also won the United States Championship from MVP on an episode of Raw in June 2009.
After coming to the aid of then-World Heavyweight champion CM Punk, they formed a team and defeated Rhodes and Ted DiBiase for the World tag titles.
At the end of 2009, he entered into a feud with Randy Orton, after Orton blamed Kingston for the loss of his WWE Championship to John Cena. They traded victories on episodes of Raw, leading to a rubber match at TLC, which Orton won. A win for Kingston at the pay-per-view could have escalated him into the main event.
In 2010, Kingston went back to SmackDown where he feuded with Drew McIntyre over the Intercontinental Championship. He competed in the 2010 Money in the Bank match at the pay-per-view, but was unsuccessful. He then feuded with Dolph Ziggler over the Intercontinental title.
He returned to Raw in 2011 and defeated Sheamus at Extreme Rules for the United States title. He lost the title to Dolph Ziggler and then went on to form a team with Evan Bourne. Air Boom captured the tag titles from David Otunga and Michael McGillicutty. He later formed a team with R-Truth and won the tag titles from Epico and Primo.
He captured his fourth Intercontinental title from the Miz on the Oct. 17 episode of Main Event. Kingston entered a feud with Wade Barrett, who defeated him on the Dec. 31 episode of SmackDown for the title. Now, Kingston seems to be a low-midcard jobber as he has lost to Cody Rhodes, Wade Barrett, Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler over the past month.
Looking back, he appeared to have had the same push as Shelton Benjamin. Both men are extremely athletic, can go in the ring, but aren’t the best on the mic. They had success in both singles and tag team competition. Kingston and Benjamin had standout moments in Money in the Bank and Royal Rumble matches. They had a big feud with a top Superstar (Kingston with Orton and Benjamin with Triple H). Unfortunately, neither man could defeat the veteran when it mattered and were ultimately stuck in the midcard.
Kingston is only 31, which is pretty young in the world of professional wrestling, but there are others who leap-frogged Kingston into the main event like Ryback, Dolph Ziggler and The Miz. His popularity is nowhere near where it was back in 2009 and 2010. Kingston is now making fewer and fewer appearances on WWE’s main programming and his time to reach the main event is gone. Kingston will forever be a stepping stone for the next generation of main event stars.