Last week on AEW Dynamite, the show opened with Cody’s defense of the TNT championship, which has been a series of matches that has allowed him to showcase his hard-working style as a fighting champion with a subtle nod to the throwback of the titleholders of a previous era. He was met by a throwback challenger, Eddie Kingston, gritty 18-year pro that despite a few brushes with opportunity in the past, just hasn’t landed on the platform that most think his skills justify.
One of the positives of AEW taking the approach to allow non-contracted talent to appear on the show is that it opens the door for these unique scenarios that aren’t seen often. The general thought process of the industry is that you don’t want to promote a talent unless they are under contract because they could use that exposure to go elsewhere and take some of that spotlight with them. It makes sense and it’s the reason WWE rarely has outside talent on its programming with the exception of a few times in more recent years. On the flip side, All Elite Wrestling is trying to grow and expand its audience, which isn’t easy to do in general because of the hundreds of channels available today, not to mention the competition from NXT on Wednesday night. Establishing the possibility that anyone could show up to challenge for the TNT championship gives All Elite Wrestling something unique to promote, which is key if they are going to maintain or expand their market share.
Eddie Kingston became known on the independent circuit in the early-2000s with his tag team work in Chikara, the now-defunct group that presented an over-the-top comic book product. Among the colony of ants and ice cream cones, Kingston brought a sense of realism to his persona, an aspect to his persona that had his stand out among the rest of the comical wrestling of the organization. That realism makes him stand out today all these years later.
As time went on, “The Last of a Dying Breed” became a mainstay among the indy scene, with speculation about a potential move to Ring Of Honor, which was still independently-owned at the time. He had a few stints with ROH, as far back as 2008 and as recent as 2014, but for whatever reason, they didn’t materialize into anything substantial. Perhaps, the highlight of his time with Ring of Honor was when his extensive feud with Chris Hero was brought to the promotion for their Final Battle pay-per-view in 2009. Known as “The War King” in more recent years, Kingston is known as a wordsmith on the mic, weaving his street influence from his time as a youth in Yonkers with the narrative of the squared circle. The reason I must mention the Hero pay-per-view bout is the promo that he cut in a hype package to promote the show was one of the best promos of his generation. With the show in New York, Kingston proclaimed the match with his rival was “for all the underdog” and the authenticity really sold the match as something that people would be willing to pay to watch.
His pair of stints in TNA could be described as mishandled and underutilized respectively. The stable with James Storm, another underrated talent, could’ve done really well, but the DCC gimmick was too cartoonish and didn’t use play to any of their strengths as performers. The LAX run with King as their manager is arguably what helped get Santana and Ortiz to a level where they garnered offers from WWE and AEW after their Impact exit. As we’ve seen the former LAX are extremely talented and have done very well as a part of the Inner Circle group. Before the pandemic, Kingston had a successful tour of the UK, but should a performer of his caliber have to go overseas to be a featured talent?
Although, his nearly two decade path toward last Wednesday night and the lack of a full-fledged opportunity on a national level really added depth to the narrative of the match. Kingston brings a believably that very few can in the modern era and that is really a key to draw money in the industry. As cliche as it might sound, you don’t have to make people believe everything that watch on a wrestling show is legitimate, but if you can make them believe an aspect of it is legitimate then you can draw money. You could rally behind Kingston because if the result is predetermined or not, you were hoping for the surprise win because a championship victory means that the real-life Kingston gets the financial stability of a contract. Granted, the result of most of these TNT title matches are obvious because the angle is the continuous challengers, but the fact that the audience has a reason to cheer for a challenger without previous AEW exposure proves that the scenario was successful. In the modern era, when everyone thinks they know everything, Eddie Kingston brings authenticity to the table and that’s a rare commodity in the current industry. As far as the action of the match, it was really solid and King’s style was influenced by many of the legends of All Japan so the physical style suits his character.
I’ve been a fan of Kingston for several years so I think it would be great for him to get an AEW deal, but considering that the organization has continued to add competitors to the roster, it’s probably a matter of if they have a role for him. If he’s signed just to be on the roster and gets lost in the shuffle, that would more or less repeat the mistakes of how he was used for Impact. In my opinion, the authenticity that he brings in the ring and on the mic is money so hopefully this wasn’t a one-off appearance. In an industry where as spectacular as the athletes are and as slick as the production is on Wednesday for AEW and NXT, how many performers can project the emotion and the realism of Eddie Kingston? During the opening promo, he spoke like an athlete that had to claw his way for notoriety because that’s actually what he had to do after he was overlooked in other companies. As incredible as all the moves are on Dynamite, professional wrestling is ultimately about the story, and it would certainly be a tremendous narrative if Kingston finally lands a major contract after almost two decades in the industry.
What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.
Until next week
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