WWE's Kofi Kingston on CM Punk, Walking Dead, The WWE Network, and His Royal Rumble Escapes

Kofi Kingston spends so much time airborne, the acrobatic WWE Superstar oughta have wings -- or even a pilot's license. Whenever the 28-year-old professional wrestler graces the squared circle on episodes of WWE's Raw or Smackdown programs, his feet seem to spend more time in the air instead of planted firmly on the canvas.

Kingston's repertoire contains a slew of spectacular-looking leaps, dives, and flips, which the 6-foot, 212-pound wrestler unleashes upon his opponents. That includes such signature maneuvers as the "SOS" and "Boom Drop," as well as his finishing move (a conceit of every grappler) known as "Trouble in Paradise."

See also: WWE Superstar Curtis Axel on Restoring The Intercontinental Championship Belt's Prestige

Hence the reason why Kingston is considered one of the more eye-catching and high-flying stars in the wrestling realm, and why he caused jaws to drop inside US Airways Center this past weekend weekend during a WWE live event at the arena Saturday where he beat the ultra-prissy Fandago in an opening match.

We spoke with Kingston recently in honor of his visit to the Valley about his amazing performance in the recent Royal Rumble pay-per-view, as well as how he's looking forward to the upcoming debut of the WWE Network on Sunday, February 23, which will offer fans the chance to rewatch every single pay-per-view and television program in the company's 62-year history.

Speaking of television, Kingston is also a huge geek for The Walking Dead and told us how (like most of America) he hates waiting for new episodes. What's worse is that he has to wait a few more days than the rest of us, given that his Sunday night's are spent in a ring.

Kingston also spoke to us about his longstanding friendship with fellow wrestling star CM Punk (who's recently caused a major hullabaloo in the wrestling world after essentially going on strike due to a major beef with the WWE), as well as his bowling skills, which he got to use while filming a game against Chris Hardwick from the Talking Dead along with other WWE Superstars.

You've become famous in recent years for your impossible escapes during the Royal Rumble match. Do you try to one-up yourself every year? Well, I mean, honestly I challenge myself every day to come up with new and innovating things that the WWE Universe hasn't seen. But in terms of the Rumble, to be honest, I don't think of stuff to do all year up until like 24 hours beforehand. I definitely like the pressure and the challenge of just being able to come up with new and innovating things. Because, as time goes by, it becomes harder and harder to do that with all the exceptional athletes that we have in WWE.

First, you did the handstand in 2012, the thing with the office chair last year, and then that huge jump from the railing this year. If nothing else, you're running out of places around the ring. We got about 363 days to think about it. So, I'm sure it will work itself out.

There's a video of CM Punk a few years ago where he called you his "road wife." Before his recent departure, was that still true? Yeah, we were each other's road wives. With Punk, I consider him to be like a brother to me. He's one of the guys who took me under his wing when I first came. So we've been able to maintain a good relationship. And there are very few people in the business that you can call true friends, so I consider Punk to be that and more. So yes, "road wife" is the term we used to sum that all up.

You went bowling with CM Punk, AJ Lee, and Fandango against Chris Hardwick from The Talking Dead not too long ago for an episode of the Nerdist, right? Yeah, it was me, him, Fandango and AJ, and we took on the Nerdist guys, and honestly, we had the match in the bag the entire time. It wasn't up until the last two frames that they ended up coming out on top. But it was a great experience and there was a lot of good food, including good nachos, involved. We had a good time and that's what it's all about.

Are you a regular bowler or was that something you just did for the video? I've probably bowled about five times in the past eight years. So, no, actually. Well, you know what? They didn't show on the video that I was actually the leading scorer for our team, so I actually think I did really well for a guy who doesn't bowl. I might actually need to take it up.

Maybe if the wrestling thing doesn't work out. So you got to go against Chris Hardwick from The Talking Dead, right? Yeah. All those guys. It was great.

You're a pretty big fan of The Walking Dead. Yes, a huuuge fan. Actually, I got into The Walking Dead comics from Punk. He actually recommended it to me and then when the show came out it was awesome. [Punk] actually got a chance to be on The Talking Dead. It was great just being able to meet those guys and Walking Dead is definitely one of the best shows on TV right now.

The new episodes are starting, right? I have no idea. Hopefully they start soon. These mid-season finales, man, they kill me. I know its like they'll be starting up a new season but they make you wait twice. Between that and Breaking Bad, I don't know man. I don't like it. I get it. I understand they want to build the anticipation and it's working, but it's got me on the edge of my seat waiting, just champing at the bit.

Since the WWE Superstars work Sunday nights, how do you catch the show? We have a few different options, like downloading it from iTunes. The toughest thing is staying off the social media because a lot of people are on there talking about it like right after it happens, so we always have to find a way to avoid spoilers, which is one of the bad things about social media is that it is so up and coming and cutting edge.

Speaking of streaming media and such, what's your take on the new WWE Network that launches this month? Well, it's definitly a huge, huge deal for us. We've been trying to get this network off the ground, it's finally going to happen. There's going to be a lot of content, I can tell you that straight up -- high flyers, the Attitude Era and just the history of the business and the future. They have so many ideas and so many different concepts that I think a lot of people are going to look forward to getting to see -- just a different side of WWE superstars and the WWE in general and how it's presented. And it's really inexpensive, like $10 a month, and you get so much material, including pay-per-views, for that amount.

So do WWE Superstars like yourself get the network for free or will you have to buy a membership? I hope that maybe we can swing something, maybe get some sort of corporate discount. [laughs] I got to find the right people to talk to. Even then, like I said, it's pretty inexpensive.

The WWE Network launches on February 23.

Follow Jackalope Ranch on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.