Kennedy still loud and proud amid rocky comeback
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Mr. Kennedy sat motionless, staring straight ahead and seemingly in a trance. His platinum blonde buzzed locks were still drenched in sweat.
Kennedy's match with Jeff Hardy -- which he lost by count-out -- had ended more than an hour ago, but he couldn't bring himself to go shower. He had desperately wanted to impress Acting Raw GM Jonathan Coachman, who was choosing the new No. 1 contender and opponent to WWE Champion John Cena at SummerSlam. But he watched Hardy literally sprint to victory, and Randy Orton be named Cena's next challenger.
For Kennedy, this bump in the road of his comeback appeared hard to swallow. Just three months ago, by virtue of his victory at WrestleMania 23's Money in the Bank Ladder Match, he had a guaranteed opportunity at a world champion. He had a guaranteed main event slot at WrestleMania 24 because he announced that he would cash in his opportunity at sports-entertainment's grandest stage in Orlando, Fla.
But all that got flushed down the drain when Kennedy suffered an arm injury. Edge took advantage of him to take away the Money in the Bank contract and ultimately the World Championship. And since being drafted from SmackDown to Raw and returning to action, Kennedy has had difficulty regaining the momentum that made admirers and foes alike call him the "fastest rising star" in WWE at one time.
But don't dare suggest to Kennedy that he is no longer WWE's brightest star. Don't dare infer that he will not main-event WrestleMania 24. The mere idea broke the loudmouth from Green Bay, Wis., out of his trance as he snatched away our reporter's Sony digital recorder.
"That's a stupid question. Don't even insinuate I won't be in the main event at WrestleMania," Kennedy said, eyes bulging but voice remaining even-toned. "Actions speak louder than words, so I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I'm going to be in the main event at WrestleMania. You're just going have to sit back and tune in every week and see me do what I do best. We'll see who's on top, who's in the main event at WrestleMania 24."
It's hard to envision Kennedy remaining silent on anything, let alone his potential role in next year's WrestleMania. But one thing is sure: Kennedy has successfully walked the comeback trail before. In late 2005, he tore a tendon from the bone in his back and that sidelined him for much of 2006.
When Kennedy returned, he was louder and prouder and more determined. He believed he was the best and in typical Kennedy fashion, let the world know it. Kennedy never let anyone forget that he has defeated seven former world champions -- Rey Mysterio, King Booker, Batista, Undertaker, the late Eddie Guerrero, Kane and Rob Van Dam. His swagger and braggadocio only grew when he became "Mr. Money in the Bank" at WrestleMania 23.
The former U.S. Champion acknowledges his arm injury came at a terrible time. But setbacks have only fed his desire to show all of WWE that its current champions are pretenders and that he is the top dog.
"I suffered an injury that was [initially] thought to be worse than it actually turned out to be. So, I had to go home and basically watch WWE programming for two months," he said. "When you're forced into a situation where you have to sit at home and ride the bench … for me, I think it's ‘Fight or Flight' syndrome. You either fight harder or you say, ‘I'm tired of this. I'm tired of being hurt and watching other people do what I'm supposed to be doing.' For me, stuff like that fuels me. It fires me up."
But hold your applause and cheers if you admire Mr. Kennedy's resolve. He doesn't want them. In fact, he blames our fans for his injury and losing Money in the Bank.
"You people are the reason I lost my opportunity," Kennedy said, still holding the recorder close to his mouth. "You people are the ones who egged me on, told me to fight Edge [when the Rated-R Superstar attacked challenged him for the Money in the Bank contract on Raw one fateful night in May]. You see, I made a mistake that night -- a mistake I will never make again."
Kennedy paused and lowered the recorder. He then grabbed a towel to dab his forehead and lips. He closed his eyes and brought the recorder back up to his mouth to make one promise.
"So, yeah, I don't have Money in the Bank anymore. It's not a ‘guarantee' anymore, so to speak," he said. "But I guarantee you, I will fight tooth and nail, every step of the way, to get to WrestleMania 24. I am force to be reckoned with because I am Mrrrrrrr. Ken -- ne -- dy!"
Kennedy then shoved the recorder back into our reporter's chest. He draped the towel over his head and started walking away. But before he left the room, he turned around once again and sneered.