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Kofi Kingston: Standing Out In A Crowd

Think you could write better scripts than WWE creative? Wish you could see Christian fight Edge in a TLC match at Wrestlemania for the title? Maybe move a high-flier like Kofi Kingston up to the top of the card while eliminating the Diva division altogether?

Well, you might never get to pitch story ideas to Vince McMahon in real life, but in "WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2010," gamers are given unprecedented creative freedom over the direction of their virtual wrestling organization. From a cut-scene creator that enables you to select both the talent and location for events that could include anything from a leprechaun flirting with the women's champ to random cars exploding backstage (we're not making this up), to the ability to actually write the script in each scene (Mickie James stares into Hornswoggle's eyes as she finally admits her fascination with the color green and rainbows), to constructing the card of every show right down to the outside interference, this is the closest you can get to being Mr. McMahon without getting your head shaved by Donald Trump.

But the creative freedom doesn't end there as the create-a-superstar mode has also seen a significant upgrade, including the ability to upload your created finishers, entrances, characters and even your created storylines so millions of gamers can experience the twisted WWE universe you've always imagined.

Who knows, maybe WWE creative will even be taking notes.

One other feature gamers will want to keep an eye out for is the ability to edit the look of the WWE superstars' wardrobes. And while you won't be able to stick John Cena in a dress or anything like that, for the first time, you will be able to customize the colors of each wrestler's ring gear to help make your favorite grappler stand out from the polygonal crowd (you can even put the Undertaker in all pink if you have a death wish).

And according to current United States champion Kofi Kingston, standing out as a character is one of the most important, and at the same time, most difficult things to do in the wild world of professional wrestling.

"For me, it's important to try and be different," says Kingston. "I take a little bit from everything. I watch kung fu movies, I read comic books, I play video games. I watch a character like Eddy Gordo in 'Tekken' and his capoeira style, and it's characters like that that I like to take from because of how they stand out. You try to take a little bit of what they do and adapt it to your style. It's one of those things where you just try to stick out and try to be different.

"It's up to every individual to do the research. You're responsible for your own individuality. It's hard, but it's my job to be different, so that's what I try to do."

Here's what else Kofi had to say as we talked WWE, video games and how Shaq gave Big Show "giant envy."


ESPN: After debuting in WWE, how long did it take for fans to get into your character and know all of your trademark moves?

Kofi Kingston: It was about two months. I usually hit my signature leg drop, "The Boom Drop," where I hit the ropes and give a "Boom! Boom!" before I hit the move, and people obviously didn't know what I was doing at first and it was just kind of me yelling. [laughs] No one was getting with it at first, but it's all about repetition and after a few months, people started thunder clapping and getting familiar with my repertoire. The support is still growing as I'm starting to see a lot more signs out in the crowd for me.

ESPN: That must've been a wild change from a silent crowd to your match at Wrestlemania where 72,000 fans were yelling "Boom!"

Kingston: You can't even explain it. It was just an unbelievable thing. Wrestlemania all seemed to happen so fast, then when it was all over, I was sitting in the back thinking about what just happened … that was one of my lifelong goals, to have a match at Wrestlemania, and to have that happen was unbelievable.

ESPN: Do you see your match at Mania as a major turning point for your career? Your performance in the Money in the Bank match had a lot of people talking.

Kingston When you're out there and there are 70,000 fans, you don't feel it. Your adrenaline is so high, you could've hit me with a truck and I would've probably got up and started dancing around because I'm in Wrestlemania.

-- Kofi Kingston

Kingston: I've heard a lot of positive feedback about my Wrestlemania performance, but not to downplay Wrestlemania, but I believe you need to come out just as hard in every match you go out in and show something different. You want to get better, you don't want to stay stagnant and regress. So it's one of those things where I knew Wrestlemania for me had to be a top-notch performance and I'm glad I delivered. You can't dwell on it too long, though. I'm always trying to get better, so we'll see what happens. Just trying to get better.

ESPN: The Money in the Bank match always delivers in shock value. From people getting smashed with ladders, to this year you had a guy like Mark Henry tossing you around, how do you prepare for a match like that where you know the potential for injury and pain are extreme?

Kingston: When you're out there and there are 70,000 fans, you don't feel it. Your adrenaline is so high, you could've hit me with a truck and I would've probably got up and started dancing around because I'm in Wrestlemania. This is Money in the Bank. The morning after, on the other hand, I had a hard time just getting up. I had a 12-inch scratch on my leg and I still have no idea how that got there. It's just one of those things that you don't feel until you get in the shower, then you realize you have all these cuts and bruises. The morning after is when you feel it, not when you're out there. But you get up and you get back in the ring the next day. That's just what we do.

ESPN: What do you think is the toughest part of being a pro wrestler?

Kingston: I love traveling and seeing all of these new places, but being on the road so much is definitely a big sacrifice in terms of spending time with your family and loved ones. It's the nature of the business and it's something that's not going to change, but for me, the hardest thing is being away from home so, so much.

ESPN: Have any of the veterans taken you under their wing and given you advice on how to make it in this business?

Kingston: Surprisingly, Mark Henry has always been one of the guys who has looked out for me ever since I first started, really. He was on Smackdown when I was on ECW, but those two shows travel together during live events, so we always traveled together. When I come back from one of my matches, he's always there to tell me what he feels was either right or wrong or what I could've done to make the match better. People forget that Mark Henry has been around for quite some time. He's a 10-plus-year vet, so I'm very fortunate that he would take the time out of his day to help me, because he doesn't have to. He's always there to give me advice, and I'm the type of guy, I'll take all the advice I can get so I can take it to the next level.

ESPN: I think the best advice Mark Henry could give you is to avoid being the father of Mae Young's rubber hand.

Kingston: [laughs] Yeah.

ESPN: What are your opinions on the Shaq/Big Show feud? Who would win in a fight?

Kingston: It was actually really funny because Big Show is used to being the biggest guy now that Great Khali is on the other show, but when Shaq was here, Shaq and Big Show pretty much look each other in the eye. I don't think Big Show was used to seeing him. You could see Big Show looking over his shoulder all day and kind of having that giant envy. [laughs] When you're used to being the biggest, you want to be the biggest all the time. When someone tries to invade your territory, it's understandable that you'd be a bit defensive. But as far as a one-on-one match, I've never seen Shaq fight, so I can't say that he'd beat the Big Show, but I've been beat up by the Big Show several times, so I have to go with the Big Show on this one. I've been hit by the Big Show and that's not something that I would recommend. If they were going to go at it one-on-one, I'd have to go with the Big Show. Sorry, Shaq.

ESPN: Who would you like to see as a future Raw guest host?

Kingston: We've had all males so far, maybe we need a female like Kim Kardashian. I know Jenny McCarthy has been backstage a few times. Maybe it's time for us to get one of the females to be guest host. I don't know exactly who, but that would switch it up a little. I like how the guest hosts bring a new flavor to the show. I'm definitely digging it.

ESPN: As a big sports gamer, I know you are headed out to buy the new "Madden." Can anybody beat you?

Kingston: You probably read it on the Internet, maybe you even saw it on the ESPN ticker how Kofi Kingston is the "Madden" king. Anyone who wants to get a lesson, just know that I am the teacher and the "Madden" world are my students. [laughs]

ESPN: Who is your team?

Kingston: I usually go with the Patriots or the Ravens. I spent quite a bit of time in Boston, so I'm a Patriots guy. Tom Brady will be back in full effect this year, but I don't want to count my chickens before they hatch. We'll see.

ESPN: I hear Cody Rhodes is your biggest competition in "Madden."

Kingston: Ahhhh, c'mon! Cody is a fraud in gamer's clothing. A bunch of us play "Fight Night Round 4" over Xbox Live, and I was knocking him out so good, he had to resort to low blows and head butts. He had to get himself disqualified so he could try and take the win away from me. Cody is a big talker, but if you want to talk about "Madden," he's not up to snuff.

ESPN: Anything you'd like to see improved about your virtual self in "WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2010?"

Kingston: Last year I thought they did a very good job. Everything was accurate as far as tattoos … I have this scar on my right thigh that they got in the game. The detail is unbelievable. As far as improvements, 2010 is supposed to be the most realistic game in the series from what I hear. I'm not sure how they are going to do that yet, I don't have the details, but as far as my character goes, maybe they could make my hair a little bit longer. That's about all I can give them. They already know how to make me pretty good in the game.

THQ always finds a way to raise the bar and exceed expectations and I'm sure they'll do it again this year.