I don’t usually cry when I watch professional wrestling: it’s the not the sort of entertainment that would elicit tears. But last night’s Wrestlemania 35 was quite different.
When Kofi Kingston pinned Daniel Bryan 1-2-3 for the WWE Championship, I was in tears for a solid 10 minutes, and still getting choked-up thinking about it now.
Pro-wrestling may be “fake” and “scripted”, but those emotions were as real as can be. Kofi’s climatic win was everything I love about wrestling: a dramatic underdog story of perseverance, mixed in with a solid dose of athleticism and high-flying acrobatics. It’s why I kept watching WWE since childhood and well into adulthood, even though I know results are predetermined; because who doesn’t get moved by a good underdog story?
And the Kofi storyline was fabulously executed: from the chance opportunity in replacing Mustafa Ali at a match nearly two months ago, to building up the ultimate underdog tale of the corporate deck stacked against him for 11 years, and then finally winning the gold at Wrestlemania. Us fans were rabidly behind Kofi since the match as Ali’s substitute, and credit to the WWE creative team for latching onto the momentum and giving us the catharsis.
The match itself was really well done, too. There was weight and consequence to every move, and the finish cannot be more perfect. We were at the edge of our seats the entire time, wondering if at any moment the dream can be snatched away from Kofi. It was beautiful.
It’s funny; I’ve had discussion with my friends over the years about how Kofi is just a world title win away from being a grand slam champion (having had held all the major belts in the WWE), but would the company ever give him such a push? For the past five years Kofi’s been flourishing as a member of the New Day stable, and it seemed inconceivable that he’d be singled out for a world title run (we’d always thought it’d be Big E who’d get the push when the time comes).
Which makes what happened last night so intensely more special for me. In a way I can’t believe it actually happened, and it could not have gone to a more deserving person. An indelible Wrestlemania moment for sure.