Consistently one of WWE's most popular performers, Ghana's Kofi Kingston has grown accustomed to defending championships in high-pressure situations. And even though the main event at this Sunday's Hell in a Cell pay-per-view at Philips Arena features CM Punk (Kingston's one-time tag team partner) defending the WWE Championship against the wrestling machine known as Ryback inside the the gigantic steel cage, Kingston's Intercontinental Championship defense against former WWE Champion the Miz has quickly become one of the event's marquee match-ups. Considering that the happy-go-lucky Kingston spent his formative WWE stages at the now-defunct McDonough-based developmental promotion known as Deep South Wrestling, Hell in a Cell is also an odd sort of homecoming for the high-flying superstar. As he prepares for a match that could help push him into the main event picture, Kingston discusses his Deep South training, his history with the Miz and the unpredictable nature of WWE that led to this renewed rivalry.
He was part of the original group at Deep South, but by the time I got there he was already gone.
Still, you and the Miz are no strangers to one another in the ring. You even had a successful United States Championship defense against him and Jack Swagger at the first Hell in a Cell pay-per-view in 2009. How do you think your past experience with him will benefit you going into this Sunday's match?
Yeah, the Miz and I have feuded for the Intercontinental Championship before and for the United States Championship. I feel like this time it's a little bit different. This isn't about finesse or anything like that. It's about both of us being able to show different sides of our characters that we haven't really had the opportunity to show in the past. So I think this one's a little bit more special and we have our noses to the grindstone. We're both pretty excited about being able to showcase these different sides of ourselves.
The two of you got your main event pushes around the same time a few years ago. The Miz went on to become the WWE Champion, but you have yet to capture one of the major WWE titles. That being said, how important is it for you to retain the Intercontinental title this Sunday?
Yeah, I'm pretty sure we were gaining momentum around the same time. We're both trying to do everything we can to kick, claw and scratch our way into that main event track to the top. I think you're seeing a lot of that. As a WWE superstar, it can be frustrating sometimes because we're the best athletes in the world and we all want to be the best. Anything less than that is unsatisfying. He and I both have an opportunity to step our games up, which is kind of what we've been doing over the past couple of weeks. A lot of people have been talking about this rivalry we've had and we've really only had about two weeks to build it. I think we've both done a good job of that and I see it as an opportunity to step up and be noticed in a different way. I'm sure he's feeling the same way. So when you have two guys who are that hungry for the same thing in the ring against each other, both wanting to steel the show every night, it makes for a great match.
You're right about this rivalry coming out of nowhere. It seemed like maybe Ryback was going to challenge the Miz for the Intercontinental title a couple of weeks ago, then you ended up being the one to take that title from him.
You never quite know where things are going to go. Every poster says "card subject to change" and you never know when you're opportunity's going to come. All you can do is always be ready to seize the moment and do the best you can. That's what we're both trying to do right now.
Where do you anticipate things going for you after Hell in a Cell?
I don't try to look too far into the future because things change so much and you have no idea what's going to happen, who's going to get hurt, what's going to get shuffled around. But Hell in a Cell is going to be an amazing pay-per-view. The Miz and I will definitely have an amazing match, but I have no idea what the future holds. All I can do is the best I can do in this moment.
Having spent your early WWE years in the Atlanta area, does this area hold any special memories for you?
Every time I go by exit 278 in McDonough, Georgia I think about the time I spent down there. I was there for about a year and there really wasn't a whole lot to do in that town besides go to the movies and go to Walmart. I probably won't be revisiting any of those places, but it definitely does hold a special place in my heart because it's where my WWE career started. I didn't even have dreadlocks back then and that might actually be the last time I cut my hair. My hair was really short, my character was different back then, and I trained under Bill DeMott during his last few months with the company.
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