Eddie Kingston's championship victory on July 5 not only marked a triumphant moment in his career but also fulfilled a lifelong dream that had been brewing since his teenage years. The allure of Japanese professional wrestling had captivated Kingston for decades, and finally, in 2023, he had the opportunity to step into the legendary Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan, an achievement he had doubted would ever come to pass.
During an interview with NJPW, Kingston opened up about the overwhelming surge of emotions that washed over him upon his arrival at Korakuen Hall for NJPW STRONG Independence Day. Recounting the challenging times he had faced in his career, he revealed, "I felt like my career was over right before the pandemic.
When the pandemic hit, I thought 'OK, that's it, my career's over' I'm ... I'm not supposed to be here." The weight of his long-held aspiration became palpable as he continued, "I'll get emotional saying this, but I've dreamed of this since I was 13 years old.
I've made a lot of mistakes — in life, not just in wrestling — and I never thought I'd be here. To be here now seems very surreal, so I just want to do good for the Japanese fans, for New Japan, and for the people I looked up to."
Kingston's Triumph: The Mad King Ascends
The depth of Kingston's emotions reached new heights on the second night of the NJPW STRONG Independence Day weekend, where he dethroned KENTA to claim the prestigious NJPW STRONG Openweight Championship.
Kingston's victory marked the end of KENTA's 45-day reign and the beginning of Kingston's reign as the "Mad King" of the division. As he embarks on his championship run, Eddie Kingston's journey has become intertwined with the legacy of Korakuen Hall and the revered names of Japanese wrestling history.
With gratitude and determination, he expressed his desire to honor the Japanese fans, pay homage to the influential figures who inspired him, and seize the opportunity to make a lasting impact. For Eddie Kingston, stepping foot into Korakuen Hall represented the realization of a lifelong ambition, a testament to perseverance and an affirmation that dreams can manifest, even in the face of doubt and adversity.