Kofi Kingston has spent more than a decade on the WWE main roster, wrestled on a variety of brands and won a multitude of titles. He's been involved in some of the most eye-popping and athletic moments in the Royal Rumble. He was even Jamaican in his original gimmick in WWE before he became the charismatic Kofi Kingston who shines week-in and week-out.
On Tuesday Kingston entered the record books once again as he became the most decorated tag-team champion in WWE history. Sept. 25 was Kingston's 953rd day as a tag-team champion and passed Billy Gunn for the most days spent holding a tag-team title.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I set the goal to be the longest-reigning tag-team champion," Kingston said to ESPN on the record-breaking day. "I'm lucky and blessed to have so many tag-team championships."
During that time, 621 days have come with the New Day, which has been Kingston's most memorable and successful era of his WWE career. But there were other partners along the way.
- In 2008, CM Punk and Kingston won the titles from Legacy (Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase Jr.) on an episode of Monday Night Raw and held them for just a month and a half. "I learned so much from him," Kingston said about Punk. "Learned so much about what it takes to be a star."
- In 2011, he teamed with Evan Bourne to form Air Boom. Kingston said that Bourne brought out "the best athletically out of him and was doing things nobody had done before." They defeated the New Nexus (David Otunga and who we now know as Curtis Axel) on an episode of Raw. That reign lasted nearly five months.
- A little more than three months after he and Bourne lost the titles, Kingston re-captured them on Raw, now teaming with R-Truth. "Me and Truth always had a good time out there," Kingston remembered of their five-month reign.
Alongside Big E and Xavier Woods, the New Day were presented as faces, but quickly were rejected by the audience
"We had to fight to get that goal, and fight to keep it," Kingston said of the early days of the New Day, and called it the "most amazing journey ever." Before the group appeared on TV, there were four or five months of meetings and rejected pitches. The final result was bringing the group up as preachers spreading the message of positivity.
That, as you might expect, wasn't immediately welcomed by the WWE universe, but the group rolled with it and turned themselves into a heel faction. They were so good that the group was eventually cheered and turned into the dancing, trombone-playing, Booty O's pitching, pancake-flinging trio that you see today. The trio has had five championship reigns and broke Demolition's record for the most consecutive days as champion.
The New Day 's tag title reign was great
Former WWE tag-team champions The New Day explain what this past year was like, including an in-ring segment with The Rock and breaking the record for longest tag-team title reign.
Tag-team wrestling has undergone a revolution during Kingston's time in WWE. While his previous reigns were more of two singles wrestlers without a storyline being placed in temporary alliances, Kingston is now part of a dedicated group that has been teaming up since 2014.
Led by the New Day, this tag-team revitalization has brought the division closer to where it was in the Attitude Era, led by teams like the New Age Outlaws, Edge and Christian, the Dudley Boyz and the APA.
"These days, tag teams work for the division," Kingston said. "We worked hard to develop the division. We wanted to make the tag-team division the premier division."
Now, it's the New Day, the Usos, The Bar, Gallows and Anderson and others leading tag-team wrestling into a new age in WWE. The division has gained momentum from teams coming from NXT and the independents, leaving many wondering what duos could be next and whether a tag-team title match could headline a major WWE pay per view.
Kingston is the gold standard of tag-team wrestling in WWE, heading up this list of the most days spent as tag-team champion in WWE history. All numbers are current through Tuesday, Sept. 25.
1. Kofi Kingston (In progress): Kingston's New Day run has gotten the most attention, but he also had reigns with CM Punk, Evan Bourne and R-Truth, as listed above.
2. Billy Gunn (952 days): What makes Gunn's numbers so impressive is that he won tag-team titles in very distinct eras. In the "New Generation" era, he and his cowboy brother, Bart Gunn, had three reigns. In the "Attitude Era," he and Road Dogg (the New Age Outlaws) led the division as part of D-Generation X. Gunn then teamed with Chuck Palumbo for a brief, somewhat controversial time. And then the New Age Outlaws returned in 2014 for another run.
3. Mr. Fuji (932 days): Mr. Fuji is most recently remembered as a manager of Yokozuna and tag teams like Demolition. But before he and his bowler hat managed tag teams, Fuji was a five-time tag-team champion, the first three coming with Professor Tanaka and the last two with Mr. Saito.
T-4. Ax and Smash (698 days): Demolition was three-time tag-team champion (adding Crush as a third member late in their run). First looked at as WWE's answer to the Road Warriors, Demolition had a record-long run (broken by New Day) and stood on top of an era of tag teams that included the Hart Foundation, British Bulldogs and the Rockers.
6. Kane (678 days): If you thought Kingston won titles with a number of different partners, here's the list of partners that Kane won championships with: Mankind, X-Pac, Undertaker, Hurricane, Rob Van Dam, Big Show and Daniel Bryan. Despite repeatedly winning gold, seven of Kane's 11 reigns lasted five weeks or fewer. It was Kane's last run as champion, part of Team Hell No with Bryan, that was his longest at 245 days.
7. John Morrison (654 days): The last of Morrison's five tag-team title reigns began with a win over Kingston and Punk. Morrison's athleticism paid off with three reigns with Joey Mercury as MNM and two more with the Miz in the early days of Miz's in-ring days.
T-8. Big E and Xavier Woods (621 days): As part of the Freebird rules, these two have paired with Kingston for five reigns and more than a year-and-a-half with tag-team titles. Their transformation from overly-positive faces forced on the audience, to conniving, cheating heels, back to the fun-loving trio has been a great backstory to this trio.
10. Johnny Valiant (600 days): Valiant is only two weeks ahead of Jimmy and Jey Uso for the 10th spot, so his time in the top 10 may be limited. Valiant had two runs as champion, one each with "brothers" Jerry and Jimmy. Later, "Luscious" Johnny V managed the Dream Team (Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake) to tag-team gold.