The rise of KofiMania – Kingston tops latest ESPN WWE Power Rankings

WrestleMania 35 is just a few weeks away, and as the last few details sort themselves out for the biggest WWE show of the year, a handful of stars has gone above and beyond in their push to make the biggest splash on April 7.

Kofi Kingston, in the midst of the biggest moment in his career with a likely (if bumpy) path to a WWE championship match at WrestleMania, has made the most of every opportunity that’s come to him over the last two months. From his last-minute entry in the Elimination Chamber, to his eye-popping gauntlet match performance, to all of the character work Kingston and The New Day have done opposite Vince McMahon, there’s no denying the natural groundswell behind a long overlooked superstar.

It should come as little surprise, then, that Kingston has charged from out of nowhere to become the new No. 1 in the ESPN WWE Power Rankings, The race was close, with Roman Reigns, Becky Lynch and Daniel Bryan each receiving first-place votes and narrowly missing out in their own right, but the message couldn’t be clearer — Kingston is finally getting his shot, and he’s killing it.

It’s hard to imagine that, in 11 years with the WWE, Kingston has never received a one-on-one world championship match. He seemed close to a top-tier opportunity in October 2009, opposite Randy Orton, but Kingston ultimately helped John Cena become champion rather than vie for the title himself. There have been a handful of multi-way world title chances, from Royal Rumbles to Elimination Chamber matches — and even one of those was snatched away by Edge at the last moment.

WWE fans can occasionally be accused of cheering for something different simply for different’s sake, and while the initial excitement about Kingston’s involvement at Elimination Chamber might have al sparks that ignited the flame, it’s become so much more than that. New Day breathed life into dormant tag team divisions on multiple occasions because of their endless creativity in and out of the ring, but oftentimes got overlooked simply because of how tag teams are often shuffled to the side in favor of singles stories and rivalries.

Given the chance to plead Kingston’s case, Big E, Xavier Woods and eventually Kingston himself cut the best promo of their careers while in the ring with Vince McMahon. The heart, the struggle, the effort and the creativity of the New Day’s collective efforts have energized the WWE audience in a way few others have in this era.

No matter what lies ahead on Tuesday, when Kingston tries to run the gauntlet again to win his way to WrestleMania 35, he’s an undeniable force who has finally earned the chance to prove himself as one of the best WWE has to offer. — Tim Fiorvanti

The ESPN WWE Power Rankings are determined by a panel that determines positioning based on their perceived valuation each wrestler has to the on-screen WWE product. Numbers in parenthesis ( ) indicate first-place votes.

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