Kofi Kingston visits WWE's secret warehouse
Kofi Kingston has boldly gone where no WWE Superstar has gone before.
OK, that’s not necessarily true, but Raw’s resident highflier did go somewhere really cool. In early December, the WWE Classics team invited Kofi to join us on a rare trip inside WWE’s top-secret warehouse. Situated in an undisclosed location somewhere along the eastern seaboard, the sprawling compound could best be described as a Costco filled with nothing but fascinating pieces of sports-entertainment history. Along the warehouse’s endless aisles and towering shelves, we’ve discovered everything from the oversized fist from the old SmackDown set to a golden scepter Kurt Angle carried around after winning the 2000 King of the Ring Tournament. ( PHOTOS)
What did Kofi Kingston discover inside WWE’s wrestling wonderland? Take a trip inside the warehouse with The Wildcat and find out. Just no flash photography, please.
1991's “WrestleFest" arcade game
Kofi Kingston’s first stop upon entering the WWE warehouse? The arcade games, of course.
There are three classic cabinets lined up and ready to play in the building, including WWE’s first official arcade release, 1989’s “Superstars.” But Kingston made a deliberate beeline for that game’s follow-up, 1991’s “WrestleFest.”
“I wasted so many quarters on this game at the Bowl-O-Drome,” Kofi laughed. “I remember running out of money and then coming back the very next week and doing the very same thing. They got a lot of money out of me for ‘WrestleFest’!”
Indeed, for those WWE fans that grew up in the early ’90s, memories of mashing “WrestleFest’s” buttons in a crowded Chuck E. Cheese are nearly universal. The four-player game, which was produced by the now-defunct Japanese developer Technos, improved upon the sound and graphics of “Superstars” and expanded the roster to include Mr. Perfect, Earthquake and Demolition. At the time, that level of quality just wasn’t available on home consoles like Nintendo, but in 2012, more than two decades after its initial release, “WrestleFest” was remade by THQ as a handheld game for iOS devices.
“Back in the day, you needed to have a big [cabinet] like this to have a game like ‘WrestleFest.’ Now I can pull it out of my pocket and play it on the touch screen,” WWE’s self-proclaimed “video game king” told WWE Classics. “It’s crazy how far we’ve come.”
Mick Foley's barbed wire bat
In the event of a zombie apocalypse, the WWE warehouse would be an opportune place for a band of roving survivors to hole up, because the building is stocked with more weaponry than one of New Jack’s garbage cans.
Case in point: We found no less than four of Mick Foley’s barbed wire baseball bats while rummaging around a high shelf — each a haunting relic from The Hardcore Legend’s gory battles against Randy Orton, Edge and many others. Luckily, the implements of mayhem were individually wrapped in thick towels.
“That’s legit barbed wire,” Kingston exclaimed after snapping a picture with one of the bats. “I was putting it on my shoulder and it almost ripped my shirt!”
Although Kofi debuted in the infamously dangerous ECW in 2008 and has flung himself off a few massive ladders, Kingston has never been recognized as a hardcore brawler. Mick Foley, on the other hand, made a career out of it after first establishing himself in the all-or-nothing world of Japanese “death matches." In fact, the three-time WWE Champion won a daylong “King of the Death Match” tournament in August 1995, which featured a Barbed Wire Baseball Bat & Thumbtacks Match in the opening round. When Foley came to WWE from this grisly underworld in 1996, he brought the weapon of mass destruction with him.
“Over the past few years, I’ve gotten to know Mick Foley quite a bit,” Kofi revealed. “But to actually hold this bat and realize it has people’s blood on it? That’s pretty mind blowing.”
Paul Bearer's casket
The WWE warehouse has, perhaps, too many caskets.
Down a long corridor in the expansive building, there is a towering row of shelves packed with no less than 15 coffins. Some are immediately recognizable like the golden casket used in the Intercontinental Championship Match between The Undertaker and Goldust at In Your House 8: Beware of Dog from May 1996. Others, unidentifiably disfigured by flame or wounded by axes, serve as creepy reminders of The Undertaker’s disturbing battles with Kane, Big Show and Yokozuna.
“It was definitely pretty eerie seeing all of them stacked up there,” Kofi admitted.
After taking a minute to work up the nerve, the Intercontinental Champion finally cracked open the lid of a fire engine red coffin that was used on the Sept. 24, 2010, edition of SmackDown. On that episode, the casket contained a returning Paul Bearer who injected himself into the deeply personal rivalry between Undertaker and Kane. Thankfully, the ghoulish manager’s carcass was not still festering in the tomb.
“I opened it up and you could see boot prints in it,” Kingston revealed. “It was really cool to see.”
Before long, Kofi had gotten used to the coffin as he went out of his way to strike various poses next to it. Did that mean a Casket Match wasn’t out of the question for Kingston?
“I don’t know, man,” he said with a smile. “Who knows what the future holds?”
Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake's shears
If you didn’t know the story of Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake’s career, you’d have a difficult time figuring out why the guy dressed like Lady Gaga and carried an oversized pair of candy cane garden shears to the ring.
For the uninformed, here’s the two-part answer. First, it was the 1980s and that’s just how stuff went down. Second, Beefcake was introduced to WWE fans in 1984 as a villainous lothario alongside manager “Luscious” Johnny Valiant. Flashy clothes defined his nauseating persona, but when Brutus helped “Rowdy” Roddy Piper trim the hair of “Adorable” Adrian Adonis at WrestleMania III, he was reborn as “The Barber.” Beefcake became a fan favorite who routinely lowered the ears of his fallen opponents, but he chose to hang onto his sequined bowties and see-through tights.
The bizarre mash-up worked as Beefcake trailed only Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior as WWE’s most popular Superstar in 1990. Did Kofi Kingston count himself among The Barber’s fans?
“Oh yeah, absolutely!” the Intercontinental Champion admitted. “He had that crazy look in his eyes and I always wanted to see people get their hair cut.”
Indeed, Kofi did an admirable job mimicking Beefcake’s manic motions — a shimmy “The Barber” defined as “cutting and strutting.” But Kingston admitted there’s one Superstar on the roster that can do it even better than him.
“If you ever get a chance to see Hornswoggle cut and strut, it is hilarious!” Kofi revealed. “You’ve got to get him to do it and get it on film. It would probably get a zillion hits on YouTube.”
1985's "The Wrestling Album" on vinyl
There have been a surprising amount of sports-entertainment-inspired albums released in the years since WWE created a pop culture frenzy with the “Rock ‘n’ Wrestling Connection” of the early ’80s and most of them can be found in the warehouse.
We’re not just talking about copies of “WWE The Music, Vol. 3” either. Rummaging through a pile of vinyl records, Kofi grabbed “Classy” Freddie Blassie’s obscure 1983 album “I Bite the Songs,” which included tracks like “Blassie, King of Men” and “Pencil Neck Geeks.”
But The Wildcat couldn’t resist checking out The Junkyard Dog’s 1985 single, “Grab Them Cakes.” A duet with Vicki Sue Robinson, a pop singer who had a major disco hit in 1976 with “Turn the Beat Around,” the thumping song served as JYD’s WWE theme and was also featured on “The Wrestling Album.”
Released in November 1985, “The Wrestling Album” was unique for sports-entertainment in that it featured villains like Nikolai Volkoff and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper singing songs instead of just behaving like dangerous maulers in the ring. Realizing Mr. McMahon's creative vision, it was a major step in changing the perception of professional wrestlers from toothless cavemen to talented entertainers.
Major recording artists also appeared on the record like Rick Derringer who had a radio hit with “Rock ‘n’ Roll Hoochie Koo before recording Hulk Hogan’s signature theme, “Real American.” Of course, as the album illustrates, the track was originally intended for The U.S. Express tag team of Mike Rotundo & Barry Windham. But when that duo split to NWA, the song was given to The Hulkster and became WWE’s most recognizable anthem.
Mr. Yamaguchi-San's katana
Some men might feel a little uneasy handling a katana that was once used in the attempted disfigurement of a WWE Superstar. Kofi, on the other hand, was having the time of his life.
“This is just awesome,” Kingston said as he unsheathed a samurai sword that was wielded by Mr. Yamaguchi-San in a controversial Raw segment from 1998.
At the time, the manager of the villainous Japanese triumvirate Kai En Tai was seeking revenge against Val Venis after the lascivious Superstar ran off with his wife, Mrs. Yamaguchi-San. To show just how serious he was, Mr. Yamaguchi-San brandished a katana live on Raw and threatened Venis with the words, ‘Choppy! Choppy!’
“I think that moment will forever live in the hearts of all hardcore WWE fans,” The Wildcat told WWE Classics with a grin. “That was one of the highlights of Raw back in the day.”
For Kofi, the chance to wield Mr. Yamaguchi-San’s katana wasn’t only a thrill for him as a WWE fan, but as an avid sword collector. On a recent episode of the WWE YouTube series "Superstar Toyz," he showed off his collection, which included blades from films like “Kill Bill” and the “Harry Potter” series. Still, just because Kofi owns a few light sabers doesn't mean he's Darth Maul.
“I collect swords, but I’m not really a swordsman,” Kingston admitted as he put the katana down. “That sword was sharp. I almost choppy choppy’d myself.”
Have something unique or interesting from sports-entertainment's storied past?
Contact WWE's resident archivist at firstname.lastname@example.org with a description and photo and you might learn more about its place in history.