Kofi Kingston Photos © 2009 World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
By Craig Tello
With great power - and WWE's United States Championship - comes great responsibility.
Just ask high-flying ring warrior Kofi Kingston.
Growing up thumbing through the pages of "Amazing Spider-Man," the Monday Night Raw Superstar and newly crowned keeper of the U.S. Title certainly learned many lifelong lessons from the Marvel Universe.
From his youngest days hanging out at the local shop called The Dugout, the fan-favorite Jamaican Craze was instantly captivated by the one and only webslinger himself, Spider-Man.
"I started reading a lot of Spider-Man and Venom, who had his own series there for a while," Kingston says. "The fact that Venom knew who Spider-Man was and chose not to expose him, but rather make his life miserable and be his sworn enemy was interesting to me. That was probably my favorite rivalry."
To watch Kingston compete in the squared circle, no Spidey Sense would be needed to recognize how perfectly suitable his super hero selection truly is. A lithe, athletically built specimen known for his agility and aerial arsenal, The Jamaican Craze has a rare talent to perform and entertain.
"I don't pattern myself after Spider-Man," explains the United States Champion, "but I definitely see a lot of similarities - the high-flying, the acrobatics, the balance."
"I try to stick to a few walls if I can," jokes the yellow-and-green-adorned dynamo with one of his wide-grinned chuckles.
Loosely likening himself to the webhead, Kingston humbly explains that he can relate to the many moral tales told in the pages of Spidey books. The U.S. Champ is fascinated by the reality behind Peter Parker's powers and his choice to use them for good.
"[Parker's] not the biggest or the strongest by any means in real life," the grappler explains. "Once he put on that mask, though, he was saving the world and giving it his all for the citizens and the greater good - kind of like me. I put my trunks on, I go out there and give it all I can. I try to do things for the greater good."
As many of his fellow comic-enthused Superstars have agreed in various locker room powwows around the globe, Kingston finds his WWE world of ring ropes, turnbuckles and turncoats to be a steady parallel to the Marvel Universe.
"It's really two similar worlds," he proclaims. "The concept of WWE entertainment, the foundation is good versus evil, which is the same thing as comic books."
Kingston continues, "If I were to compare certain super heroes to certain characters, I'd say that CM Punk would be Wolverine. Shawn Michaels-a locker room leader, who's been around for quite some time-is like Cyclops, leader of the X-Men."
But suppose Kofi himself was somehow supplanted in the 616, exchanging foes such as Matt Hardy and William Regal-two of three challengers to his U.S. Championship this Sunday, June 7 at Extreme Rules-for nemeses like Green Goblin and Doc Ock.
Would The Jamaican Craze's reliable Thunderclap or signature "Trouble in Paradise" spin kick be proven superior to Spidey's web thwip?
"I've got to go with the Thunderclap, although [with] the web thwip, you shoot those webs and people can't move," Kingston admits. "The Thunderclap might daze somebody because it's an interesting maneuver but I know it's only temporary. Spidey's webs, you can't get out of them."
The versatile Superstar certainly knows what it's like to be caught in sticky situations. Though not equipped with finely crafted webslingers himself, Kingston-a former Intercontinental Champion and co-holder of the World Tag Team Titles-has prevailed against WWE's most dominant denizens.
Perhaps his early Marvel musings, reading comics beneath the wilted palms of the beach-bunkered trees on an island paradise, were what developed Kingston's amiable charm and-more importantly-wildly innovative combat style.
"I know comic books are comic books," he explains, respectful of his favored medium. "They're not exactly literary theme pieces, but they're still a good way to be entertained and get your reading in, too. They let you expand your imagination."
Follow The Jamaican Craze, True Believer, and catch Spidey in "AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #596," available now. Then, tune in to WWE's Extreme Rules this Sunday, June 7 on pay-per-view to see if Kofi can swing out of a Fatal Four Way Match against MVP, William Regal and Matt Hardy with the prestigious United States Championship around his waist.
You can read more about Kofi Kingston on WWE.com. And remember to catch him every Monday on Monday Night Raw and check out Extreme Rules this Sunday on pay-per-view!
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