With all of the changes going on in WWE lately, from the migration of talent from outside wrestling organizations to the transition toward reality-based programming on the WWE Network, there is one group who may have made the greatest impact on the WWE in the past year. That’s right. Don’t you dare be sour. Clap for your two-time Tag Team Champs, and feeeel the powaaaah!!! I’m of course talking about the red hot, super-over, three-man team of The New Day.
It was a little over a year ago that the New Day formed. We began to see vignettes that, in all honesty, didn’t look too promising. Sure, it seemed like a fun gimmick. At least something that hadn’t really been done before. Each member of the New Day would be introduced to us among a backdrop of what appeared to be an Methodist church choir. High energy African-American church group characters? Fun! In all sincerity, it was an original idea with an old fashioned over-the-top, slightly racist pro wrestling gimmick. It reeked of Vince McMahon, which isn’t always a bad thing. In a still predominantly PG era of wrestling, a new faction needs to get over with the kids. That means flashy colors and a lot of clapalong beats. Whether or not this group was designed to be heels or faces was a big ambiguous, but we at least knew the members: Kofi Kingston, Big E Langston, and Xavier Woods. Two established members and a relative unknown to the WWE Universe in Woods - outside of being a sidekick to R-Truth.
But Xavier wasn’t an unknown to fans of TNA, where he had a somewhat successful stint as Consequences Creed, sporting a large afro and Apollo Creed-style American flag shorts to stay true to his namesake, I suppose. He was teamed with R-Truth (Then Ron “The Truth” Killings) during some of his TNA tenure, which is why the two would pair up once again in WWE. After having some success in TNA’s X-Division as well as winning their tag titles with Jay Lethal, Woods would be welcomed into the burgeoning NXT. He would also be featured on an episode of ESPN’s E:60 series about NXT rookies where fans would learn of his academic prowess and his quest to earn a PhD and become WWE’s first bona fide Doctor (apologies to Dr. Yankem and Dr. Death). But Xavier’s first year in the WWE would give him little exposure, and most importantly, no real outlet to showcase his greatest asset: his mouth.
Until one day. Xavier Woods would come out to the ring, dressed in a black suit with a more serious tone than we were used to seeing from him. He would address the team of Big E and Kofi after yet another tag team loss in order to inspire them to claim their rightful place in the WWE, stating that it was their time now, and that they were tired of being held down in the company. Many fans took this as a reference to the notion that many nonwhite wrestlers were suppressed in WWE and prevented from becoming successful on a main event level. Some thought that this was some kind of a second coming of the Nation of Domination, inspiring a variation of a black power movement in the company (which did work out pretty well in launching The Rock’s career, after all). But the members of what would become the New Day deny that being the inspiration behind the group, as we can see pretty clearly now.
But this New Day would be put on hold, as we would only see the trio a few times before Big E and Kofi Kingston would return to their respective singles careers, which left fans wondering what had happened to this cool new faction.
Big E Langston originally entered the WWE from NXT to become a bodyguard for the Dolph Ziggler and A.J. Lee. As the powerhouse member of this team, he was given little mic time. Big, destructive heels don’t need to talk much anyway. But when he did speak, he spoke much more eloquently and comically than a big, destructive heel should by traditional logic. So what to do with a 300lb musclebound monster with a sharp, comedic wit?
Kofi Kingston was a veteran and an established babyface in the company. He was family friendly and exciting to watch, although his purpose in the WWE seemed to be inching toward being enhancement talent, as he was very skilled in making other superstars look good. Although he was notorious for having an exciting recovery from being eliminated from the Royal Rumble match every year, that wasn’t enough to indefinitely put over a talented wrestler like Kofi. Kingston’s position in the company had more or less plateaud.
Kofi, Big E, and Xavier were friends behind the scenes and knew they could be extremely entertaining in the way that they entertained each other, but all they needed was the proper channel. So, after a hiatus as a group, they were given “The New Day” gimmick. There was nothing very edgy or modern about the idea of a church group...or whatever it was supposed to be. I don’t even think they knew what it was supposed to be. All they knew was that they had their opportunity, which would be molded into what we now know and love as The New Day.
Originally they were hated and booed. Chants of “New Day Sucks” became a popular chant for the audience to sing and clap along to with their theme song. But with the power of positivity, they would turn that negative into a positive, misconstruing “New. Day. Sucks.” as “New. Day. Rocks.”
And little by little, the trio of majestic unicorns would bring their brand of comedy to the ring, now being given ample time to cut a promo, or even hold the occasional jamboree. But there’s a huge difference between The New Day and funny wrestling gimmicks of the past. That difference being: They’re ACTUALLY funny.
Not to belittle past wrestling comedy routines, but as a comedian I reserve the right to pass judgement, and the best you’re getting on any given wrestling program is “it’s pretty funny for wrestling.”
The New Day’s schtick is a vast divergence from the usual lowbrow, toilet humor that Vince McMahon loves. And listen, I’m not above fart jokes. There’s a time and a place for everything. But The New Day is championing smart, alternative humor on a pro wrestling program, and they’re fearless about it. All three of them seem to have hit points in their careers where they had to do something different or they weren’t going anywhere. They reached a point of not caring, because it’s pretty obvious that they’re going entirely offscript. It’s rare in today’s WWE landscape to have an open canvass, but The New Day has been deservedly trusted with one. From Xavier Woods playing the Final Fantasy victory medley on Francesca the Trombone, to Big E’s hypnotizing gyrations, to Kofi showing a more bitter side to himself and toying with the fourth wall, stating things like, “This is me saying this. Not my character. Country music sucks,” on a show in Nashville.
They’ve been over with the WWE Universe for the better part of a year now and it doesn’t look like they’ll be cooling down anytime soon. Even on the WWE Network, The New Day’s chemistry is probably the most entertaining attraction to shows like, “Table for 3,” and, “Ride Along.” Where other comic relief favorites may have gotten the kiss of death in the past from too much corporate approval, thus making them not cool or fun anymore, The New Day
seems to be immune to it. Triple H danced with them in the ring on one occasion; and Chairman of the Board, Vince McMahon even singling out The New Day, saying something along the lines of “Can I get an Amen?,” obviously only remembering the initial idea for them, and not what they’ve morphed into. But that only added to their appeal. They carry with them an aura that transcends common wrestling mockery, as demonstrated by their tiff with The Rock on last week’s Raw. Maybe it’s the power of positivity. Maybe it’s unicorn magic. Maybe it’s the coveted “it” factor. Whatever “it” is, it’s the best thing going in WWE right now, and if you don’t like it, you’re booty.