One year ago today the face of All Elite Wrestling changed forever when Eddie Kingston, microphone in hand, answered Cody Rhodes’ open challenge for his TNT Championship. Although unsuccessful as Rhodes was able to put Kingston away and retain his crown for one more night, the AEW roster was now on notice, the King had arrived in the land of the Elite.
Kingston had built a career for himself on the outskirts of mainstream wrestling. Kingston was part of CZW on and off for the best part of a decade. Seemingly at home in his ultra-violent surroundings, Kingston found himself at the centre of controversy when he was publicly fired by CZW chief John Zandig. Many thought it was part of the show but Kingston did not appear in the company for over a year after the incident. But that is where Kingston finds most of his success, in blurring the lines between real-life and real-life pro wrestling.
A Ring Of Honor antagonist, Eddie Kingston wrestled in the company’s halcyon days of the late-2000s. A perennial outcast, Kingston appeared in the company while representing Team CZW and as CHIKARA’s Grand Champion, his abrupt personality never settling well in an organisation where honor is prized so highly. During his days there, Kingston shared the ring with many men who went onto further fame and glory such as Claudio Castagnoli [Cesaro] and Kevin Steen [Kevin Owens]. A different road awaited Kingston.
Making An IMPACT
Some time in IMPACT Wrestling followed for one of wrestling’s last great journeymen. A false start as a member of the Death Crew Council alongside Bram and James Storm was to be overshadowed by what was to come. In 2018, now known simply as King, he formed his relationship with LAX members Santana and Ortiz after their leader, the legendary Konnan, had been taken out. There were no prizes for guessing how this was going to shake out with King being revealed as the man who took Konnan out so he could take LAX for himself. Homicide and Hernandez – the first iteration of LAX – then made their return taking out Santana, Ortiz, and Konnan. The OGz made a statement but King was the one doing all the talking. A Concrete Jungle Death Match was an end to it all when Konnan’s LAX defeated King’s and with that Eddie Kingston’s time in IMPACT was over.
A drastic change of direction came in 2019 when Kingston joined the rebooted version of the National Wrestling Alliance. Kingston reunited with Homicide as Outlaw Inc. The team name continuing to mark Kingston out as an outsider, someone not comfortable with getting their feet under the table. Although not as out of place as some other stars that competed in the new NWA, Kingston’s endless personality seemed too big for the more sedate surroundings of a throwback studio wrestling show. After losing all but one of his matches in the promotion, Kingston was set to be put on the biggest platform of his career.
But before delving into what Eddie Kingston means for All Elite Wrestling, there is more to his story in terms of the wrestling world. A cursory glance at Kingston’s social media shows a man that is neck-deep in his immersion of classic Japanese wrestling. With a particular affinity for the Four Pillars of Heaven synonymous with All Japan Wrestling. Akira Taue, Toshiaki Kawada, Kenta Kobashi, and Mistuharu Misawa frequently populate Kingston’s timeline. Eddie Kingston paid his own tribute to Misawa in his AEW World Championship match with Jon Moxley at Full Gear in 2020. Kingston’s own full gear on that night was Misawa’s trademark green. On that occasion, Kingston had to utter the words ‘I Quit’ to his long-time friend, the title eluding him.
For an upstart promotion such as All Elite Wrestling, the talk of who’s going to join the company and the expectant big-name signings bear a heavy weight. While the likes of Paul Wight, Mark Henry, Christian Cage, and Andrade El Idolo have gained the headlines latterly. There was a tangible buzz around the signings of Brodie Lee and Matt Hardy – although a bigger buzz would have been found if they didn’t have to debut behind the closed doors of Daily’s Place. It could have been easy to overlook some of the names that joined the company during the pandemic era and indeed, some of the names that didn’t come from the juggernaut of WWE. But as proved time and time again, overlook Kingston at your peril.
Since joining AEW, Kingston has become one of a handful of competitors to wrestle for the TNT, World, and Tag Team Championships. Although he has never emerged victorious on those occasions, Kingston continues to prove the old adage, that in wrestling it’s not who goes over but who gets over that counts. Kingston showed his conniving best when he formed his short-lived group with The Butcher, Blade, and Bunny alongside the Lucha Brothers. As Kingston looked to divide and conquer just like he had done to LAX, he was unable to fully dissolve the brotherly bond between Penta and Rey Fenix before an incensed PAC made his long-awaited return to reunite with his Death Triangle partners. The fight with Moxley may have knocked some sense back into Kingston as despite not winning gold, he did win an old friend back as he turned Moxley’s protector during the infamous Barbed Wire Death Match at Revolution in early 2021.
Kingston showed that AEW had gained more than just an impressive in-ring competitor and an even more impressive promo in Kingston in the wake of Brodie Lee’s untimely passing. A clip was shared on social media that showed Kingston addressing the AEW roster, building them up at a time of great grief and sorrow in the company. Perhaps a bold move by a relative newcomer to the company, but Kingston is no newcomer to sharing more than blood, sweat, and tears with his wrestling brothers and sisters. In this moment Eddie Kingston showed himself to be a leader, a rock to be clung to in an ever-churning ocean.
If you were to ask me what one value Eddie Kingston brings more than anything to AEW, I’d tell you that it’s the one thing that wrestling fans of the 21st-century clamour for more than anything – authenticity. Kingston might not have the matches of Kenny Omega, he might not have the endearing restlessness of Darby Allin or the rap skills of Max Caster but Eddie Kingston makes you believe. Eddie Kingston is authentic. Eddie Kingston is as real as it gets.
The demeanour, the swagger, the bravado, all masking the chips on each shoulder of Kingston, who may not have anything to prove to anyone else but his drive suggests he’s hell-bent on proving something to himself. That Eddie Kingston is a danger to anyone in the AEW locker room, that Eddie Kingston could walk that path to success. But the path Kingston takes, wherever it leads, is sure to be dug and scratched and clawed at by nobody but Kingston himself. The King of All Elite Wrestling would surely have it no other way.