WWE WrestleMania 35 Results: Kofi Kingston Wins WWE Title


Kofi Kingston added an anecdotal, yet significant, chapter to WWE’s troublesome history of African-American world champions when he defeated Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 35.

Kingston’s win is sure to lead to ludicrous, prisoner-of-the-moment Tweets that will insist WWE is absolved of any racial bias because, hey, an African-American man finally got his hands on WWE’s most prestigious championship 67 years into the company’s controversial history.

In reality, Kingston’s triumph—and future triumphs of this nature by black men assuming that there will be more within the next 67 years—will not paint WWE as part of the solution when it comes to race relations within the promotion. Race in WWE will only stop being an issue once black men winning world championships in 2019 and beyond doesn’t come with so much history.

WWE and its apologists hold on to The Rock’s blackness for dear life when it’s convenient enough to defend its lack of black excellence among former world champions. Far be it of WWE to feature The Rock in a Black History Month vignette, but when it comes recounting any significant statistic of black wrestlers winning the Royal Rumble, headlining WrestleMania or winning the WWE Championship, WWE fancies The Rock as its in-house Richard Roundtree.

Take The Rock out of the equation, the way WWE did with its vignettes for Black History Month, and a black wrestler still has yet to headline WrestleMania (actor Mr. T and NFL great Lawrence Taylor are the only two African-Americans to do so), a black WWE Superstar has never won the Royal Rumble, a black WWE Superstar has never won Money in the Bank briefcase (regardless of whether WWE considers The Rock Samoan or black) and there has never been a black WWE champion until Day 24,562 in WWE’s over 60-year history.

Kofi Kingston’s big win was not as much of a celebration of WWE’s inclusiveness as it was a reminder of its own inexcusable history. In fact, Kofi Kingston only received his chance to make history after one of six WWE Superstars already ahead of him was injured.

Kofi Kingston caught fire and made black history in spite of WWE’s best-laid plans. And until these plans, not to mention WWE leadership, routinely involve African-American personnel, race will always have a place in the WWE discussion.

Kofi Kingston WWE WrestleMania 35 The New Day

After 11 years of obstacles, both real and storyline, Kofi Kingston became WWE champion at WrestleMania 35.


Throughout Kingston’s feud with Daniel Bryan, African-American announcer Byron Saxton used several buzz words familiar to the black experience. Terms like “working twice as hard to get half as far” and “second-class citizen” were bandied about in disgust as Kingston jumped through several WrestleMania-season hurdles.

Even Big E chimed in with the familiar “people like us” language made infamous by Triple H in his uncomfortable feud with Booker T at WrestleMania 19. And as much as WWE wants to pretend like this feud was not about race, this language—and the mere novelty of seeing a black man with the WWE Championship—make racial undertones impossible to ignore.

(This story originally appeared on Forbes)

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