In a little under a year, Eddie Kingston’s career has been forever changed thanks to All Elite Wrestling.
Cody’s open challenge for the TNT Title led to people getting one-shots in the company, but no one did more with that single chance than Kingston did. He’s someone who has been revered for years as a high-class worker who was not only versatile, but a captivating speaker who could also cut a great promo, and they’re two different things. Dusty Rhodes could do that and tie an upcoming match into a verbal story that took the viewer on a journey, and Kingston kept that spirit alive in July of 2020 while facing Dusty’s youngest son.
Kingston lost that battle, but won the war, as he’s had a career-best year in the ring and on the mic. Excalibur talking about Kingston having to sell his boots to pay his mortgage during the match was something of an iconic moment because it told viewers right away that this is a man who has sacrificed a lot for his love of pro wrestling. You could just descend to Earth from Neptune, see that, and learn a lot about the person. In one match, AEW took you on a story of a man whose journey bears some similarities to Mick Foley’s, only to that point, he really hadn’t much of a national spotlight on him.
IMPACT used Kingston as a part of one of the seemingly endless groups that James Storm helmed over the years with the DCC. They were given the task of being a heel group created to bring order to TNA – a task that a great many have failed out in the company’s history. Their characters were sort of hacker-types, but dressed in street clothes and the group just wasn’t a good fit for anyone. Some pairings of that time, like MVP and Lashley with the BDC, worked out nicely, and this one just didn’t click. Kingston came back in 2018 with a whole new character as King that gave him a chance to better showcase his verbal skills.
Positioned as a part of Konnan’s crew with the revamped LAX with Santana and Ortiz, it was immediately clear that he was there to drive a wedge between them and took Konnan out in storyline to lead the original LAX team of Hernandez and Homicide back to take over. Week after week, Konnan and Kingston traded barbs in pre-taped videos and in an era where Impact was suffering production-size, the team was able to do a lot with very little and could just two fantastic speakers map out a compelling story. When the time came for the blowoff match, King was ousted when the OGz with Kingston lost a concrete jungle match on the boards of the ring. In an era with Bran getting re-signed regularly, Eddie Kingston just couldn’t catch a break.
Thankfully, the in-studio NWA came about and gave everyone in the company a bit of a jolt. The exposure of the group early on was quite high and everyone on the show wound up with a higher profile for a brief window of time than anyone could have imagined. The studio setting was a haven for great promos in the ’80s and remained one for men like Eddie Kingston and James Storm, with the latter getting some Impact dates and the former reuniting with Homicide briefly before the group went on hiatus and his career was put on hold due to the pandemic. The NWA didn’t run for a long time and people were left spinning their wheels – as was Kingston, until AEW came calling. He was given a single chance to succeed, and did more with that than anyone could have imagined.
His feud with Jon Moxley delved into their past in CZW a decade before and gave fans a feel-good story because the promotion told the story of their friendship, while Kingston talked about how Moxley had sold out to get what Kingston always wanted. Kingston wasn’t willing to compromise his vision of pro wrestling and felt jaded because Moxley did and got the life Kingston wanted his family to have. Moxley had the wife, the baby on the way, and took care of his mother while Kingston was left to tell his mother that wrestling is why she’s got no grandkids and Moxley became the manifestation of every promotor who ever doubted his ability.
Throughout their rivalry, Moxley made it clear that he still cared about Kingston, and that played into their work with Kingston admitting as much, but also having to take Moxley out and take his title and prove he’s the better man to rationalize his journey. His trek in wrestling has been harder and he wanted the validation that Moxley got without even really seeing it—it just happened. The life Kingston wanted was something that Moxley got thanks to a WWE run that he never had. Moxley got worldwide fame, acclaim, and met his wife there, while he got turned down at the Performance Center as a 16-year veteran. Their Full Gear match ended with a bulldog choke-out on Kingston, but he didn’t give up. It wasn’t quite Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart at WrestleMania 13, but it told a similar tale of a man being too tough for his own good.
Kingston and Moxley’s rivalry fizzled, but Moxley considered their deal done and it was just up to Kingston to move on, and the Revolution barbed wire exploding ring death match saw his character take a huge leap forward. Moxley loses the match and is about to be blown to bits by Kenny Omega’s ring of death, but Kingston runs out to try and protect his friend. He knows better than anyone what Mox had sacrificed to get what he earned in life and didn’t what it taken away, so he protected him from the blast he envisioned even if it wound up being minimal. The character work was done and he showed Moxley that he was willing to do anything to protect him. Their brotherly bond was re-forged.
At Double or Nothing 2021, the team fought the Young Bucks at the first sold out AEW show since March of 2020 and they came out as brothers to the chorus of X’s “Wild Thing” through a sea of people singing. Right there, Kingston’s odd road to AEW and even stranger journey within the company in the past 10 months to that point crystalized as he could see first-hand the impact he had on people. In a year of uncertainly and fear, Eddie Kingston proved to everyone in the building and everyone watching at home that hope is always alive as long as you believe in yourself.
They lost the battle that night and Moxley dropped the fall. Sure, it was to write him off for paternity leave, but it’s a story point they can go back to later with Kingston poking fun at him, or perhaps even winning the title with Penta. Because Moxley dropped the fall and not Kingston, Kingston kept his credibility coming out of the match with a technical loss and can battle the Bucks as much as needed. They’re perfect character contrasts as the Backs are arrogant and full of themselves, while Kingston isn’t materialistic and realizes what his own selfishness cost him, and if he can take their titles, maybe they’ll learn that same lesson.
Eddie Kingston’s journey in AEW is far from over – but it’s already been a remarkable one and it’s something everyone can look to during hard times. Here you have a man who went through a lot to get a look anywhere nationally and was someone who fell through the cracks of the national scene for far too long, but when he made it, he went from relative unknown nationally to almost a Mick Foley-like folk hero in record time. Whether he wins AEW gold or not, he’s done more with one chance than most have with far more has had a career-best run during an uncertain time in pro wrestling history. He’s also shown that no matter what obstacles have beaten someone down before, they don’t have to define them and in doing so, can show everyone with a hard upbringing or someone who is struggling in life that hope is always there and the courage to improve is always within us, though sometimes it’s hiding.