Earlier today, WWE released a video on YouTube titled Black WWE Champions of the Modern Era, a roundtable featuring former WWE Champions Big E, Bobby Lashley, and Kofi Kingston.
Hosted by Byron Saxton, all three reflected on their influences in wrestling growing up, what it felt like to hold the top prize in WWE, and more, with Kofi starting first.
“It’s crazy,” Kofi Kingston said. “When I came to the Elimination Chamber, I remember Woods and E, they come and there right by my sides and they’re like ‘hey man, you really showed out.’ Just giving me that love that we’ve had, that it was all of us. Like I said, without them, it doesn’t happen.
“Obviously winning the WWE Championship, for me, when the ref’s hand hit the mat for the third time, I was like ‘whoa, this is real.'” And my eyes popped out of my head, legit just genuine shock. I get a lot of people on social media still talking about how it affected them, and I’m just so grateful to be at the center of all of that.”
Bobby Lashley, meanwhile, described his victory over The Miz to win the WWE Championship in March of 2021 as a cool day, especially in how he chased The Miz throughout the episode of Monday Night RAW. Even cooler was the reaction he got afterward from family, peers, and people he hadn’t heard from in years.
“That day was actually a really cool day in the way it was done,” Lashley said. “The day I did it with Miz, the fans got behind me towards the end, because throughout the whole show The Miz was trying to get out of it and trying to get out of it. And they thought ‘this might not happen.’ So when it finally happened, when I beat him, it was kind of the same thing with Kofi.
“You kind of can’t imagine how it’s supposed to feel. But for me, it was the next couple of days. I was getting calls from people I hadn’t heard from in years. From Panama, my uncle. He’s over there jumping up and down in Panama. They bring the flag over in the air, saying ‘you’ve got to take a picture with the flag! Everyone is so proud of you!’
“And then the biggest thing for me is a lot of people I regard as peers, they were saying ‘I’m happy for you. And I really believe you deserve it.’ So the next couple of days I really didn’t sleep. I was just kind of holding it in my arms the entire time. I was like ‘man, this is more than just a title. It’s more than just the WWE Championship. There’s way more to it.’ My kid, he went to school and he had a bet with his PET teacher. The PET teacher told him ‘your dad’s not going to win it.’”
Big E, meanwhile, talked about the immediate excitement in the moments after he defeated Lashley to win the WWE Championship in September, following him cashing in the Money in the Bank briefcase. He also took the opportunity to thank Lashley, crediting his dominance in the months leading up to dropping the title in making Big E’s victory all the more special.
“For me, it was one of those things where a lot of that territory was new, being in that position,” Big E said. “But I felt like I was ready for all of it. Beating Bobby, the 1, 2, 3, and I didn’t necessarily, I was like ‘alright.’ I kind of briefly thought about what I was going to do afterwards. But it’s one of those things where the moment swept me away.
“I felt I had no control over my body. I did like a half split, like a fist pump. I don’t know why I was fist-pumping, I’m not a golfer. But in that moment it felt like I hit a hole in one. But that was one of the coolest things, being able to look out and see so many people who were genuinely excited for me.
“And thank you (Bobby) for that moment. One of the reasons, there’s so many reasons that KofiMania is special, and I think one of the reasons is because of the opponent, because of Daniel Bryan being an all-time great. And I think one of the reasons that moment was so special for me was because I beat you. The way you had dominated people, the run you had, the fact that I was watching you in 2009, trying to pattern my eventual style after you, that meant a lot for me. Beating any WWE Champion means something, but for me, because it was you, that meant it was even more special for me.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit the Hall Of Fame podcast, with ah/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
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