Former WWE Champion Kofi Kingston has recalled having to go straight to the top to get permission to give Samoa Joe his own special salute live on television.
During Kingston’s run as WWE Champion in 2019, he came up against a characteristically angry Samoa Joe who wanted his own shot at Kingston’s gold. In a memorable moment on SmackDown Joe wanted the WWE Champion to shake his hand but Kofi Kingston had another hand gesture in mind that he delivered to a shocked Samoa Joe.
Speaking on The New Day: Feel The Power podcast, Kingston discussed the moment with New Day partners Big E and Xavier Woods. Mr. Money In The Bank Big E began by saying Kofi was an unlikely candidate to dish out the middle finger live on television:
“[Kofi], throwing up the bird, when you had the WWE Title with Samoa Joe. For some reason, you flipping him the bird, I feel like you’re the most unlikely person to flip anyone the bird in WWE history.”
Kofi Kingston then explained the thought process that went into the segment and how permission had to be granted by WWE Chairman Vince McMahon for Kingston to give the gesture:
“The whole situation was so funny because we were talking about how we wanted to present this idea and we needed a punchline. I was like, ‘it’s got to be the middle finger.’ Maybe not the middle finger, but something along those lines. The more we talked about it, it was like, ‘Nah, it’s gotta be the middle finger.’ We went in and asked He Who Shall Not Be Named [Vince McMahon] and he cleared it. ‘Yeah, that’ll be fine, we’ll just shoot around it.’ What? Okay. Good luck. Sure enough, the cameraman went over the shoulder and you could see me legit cheesin’ that I get to throw the middle finger up on TV. The little things.”
— WWE (@WWE) July 3, 2019
During the Attitude Era, middle fingers were a matter of course on weekly television with Stone Cold Steve Austin greeting fans, friends, and foes with them on a weekly basis. As times have changed since then, the camera shot ensured that the viewers watching at home didn’t see Kingston’s hand but those in the arena certainly did.
Samoa Joe got his WWE Championship match with Kingston at Extreme Rules in July 2019. Kingston defeated Joe and held the title until October and the first episode of SmackDown on FOX when Brock Lesnar infamously defeated him for the WWE Championship in a matter of seconds.