EXCLUSIVE | The New Day Opens Up on Their Formation, Relationship With Fans & WrestleMania 35
News18 Sports caught up with the trio and interviewed them on their history, their rivalry with the Usos, #KofiMania and more!
News18 Sports caught up with the trio and interviewed them on their history, their rivalry with the Usos, #KofiMania and more!
The New Day – the trio of Xavier Woods, Big E and Kofi Kingston are one of the most renowned superstars in the WWE roster today. Apart from being the entertainers on SmackDown Live, the trio have put together a fabulous run, filled with highs and lows, since their formation back in 2014.
They have held the tag titles of the company five times – twice on Raw and thrice on Smackdown Live. Their second title reign saw them become the longest reigning tag team champions in WWE history, at 483 days.
The New Day arrived in Mumbai as part of the first-ever WWE India tryouts, where hopefuls, if picked, could go on and train at the WWE Performance Centre and then possibly go on to become WWE superstars. News18 Sports caught up with the trio and interviewed them on their history, their rivalry with the Usos, #KofiMania and more!
You’re entering the fifth year of being The New Day. How has the journey been so far for all three of you guys?
Woods: The journey has been great. That’s the one thing that makes it feel as good as it does. We’ve been through the hard times, we’ve been through the awesome fun times. There’s been a lot. And it’s just funny because sometimes we forget what we’ve done. And somebody will say something on Twitter and go ‘Remember when you guys did this?’ and we’ll think back like ‘Woah’, we’ve done some awesome and hilarious things together and we forget the entire catalogue but it has been an amazing journey. And I couldn’t have asked to do it with two better people.
Unlike how usually teams are formed in the WWE, where the creative team approaches you with an idea, it was you guys that went up to them and said ‘Hey, we have this idea of a trio’. How did that idea come about and finally put on show?
Kofi: Actually, Woods was the guy who had the idea. And he and E got together and they decided that they need a third person. I consider myself the luckiest guy on the roster, that decide to choose me for it. Once they explained what they wanted to do, I was 100% on board. We were three guys who were not pleased with our position in the company at that time. So we saw coming together as an opportunity to elevate ourselves and it worked!
We’re talking about a journey. It’s been all over the place, in a good way. It just keeps everything fresh. It has been five years, it does not get old. We’re constantly having fun, we’re not bored. We have not fought one single time. I was wrestling with the company for about five years before. I thought I was having fun then. It was only when I got together with these guys, that I got what actually fun is. It is an awesome privilege to be able call this ‘work’, because we’re just having the times of our lives.
People did not respond to this trio as much as you would have liked immediately. But you guys kept on persisting with the gimmick and slowly people realised that you guys are so bad, that you’re good. So how did you keep being motivated?
Big E: I guess it seemed like we were ‘heels’ because we’re so hated. But I think we had so much self-belief in us as a trio, and we knew that we just needed the right opportunity for this to break through.
Honestly, we were just coming from a point of desperation. It was very much sink or swim. If this doesn’t work, I don’t know where my career is going to be. We always thought Kofi was going to be fine. He had veteran status, he has done so much. He’s been killing the Royal Rumbles for a while.
Woods and I weren’t really in a position where we were solid with the company. We felt like we’re all in, in this basket right now. It had to work. We were in desperation. For us, we were going to do everything in our power to make this work. And that was the key. We believed in ourselves, our chemistry, our abilities and we said ‘this thing has to work’ and we’re going to make sure it works.
It was definitely a rocky start for us. Our first entrance, we had the reigning pyro and the horrible blue gear that we started in that we hated. Watching how things were back in 2014, it is crazy to look back and realise that really wasn’t us, but we were finding our footing.
The great thing is that the fans go on a journey with you. If we showed up as it is right now, on the main roster, it wouldn’t nearly have the same appeal. But because people got to go on the journey, see this rocky start, see us push through and then really start to get over with fans, go through our lows and then come out.
It’s been such a cool journey and now we are in this period with KofiMania. And seeing him on this gigantic push after 11 years. It is cool that we have this story that has wrinkles, twists and turns. It hasn’t just been five years of the same stuff. It has been so rewarding, and at times, challenging. But the challenging points have made it that much more rewarding.
Let’s talk about the Usos. You guys have excellent chemistry. How do you all go about it inside the ring and how is your relationship outside it as well?
Woods: Usos are two guys that we admire most in the locker room. We have a good relationship with them and we see wrestling the same way that they do, which adds to the chemistry in the matches. At the same time, while we definitely have a chip on our shoulders - always wanting to be able to perform at the top level, put out the best work that we can, they’re the same way. So, we’ve got two teams that have the same kind of fire in the belly. I think that’s how we get the matches that we do. Both of us always want to prove something.
Coming to the fan perception of you guys. It isn’t just with Raw or Smackdown Live that you connect with the fans. You have ‘UpUpDownDown’ (Woods’s Youtube Channel), which is on its way to 2 millions subscribers, there is WWE Ride Along, Sheamus has his Celtic Warrior Workouts (on Youtube) in which Woods is due next...
Woods: Possibly, we’ll see. I think E might be next actually.
Big E: Kofi has got one in the can. Look out for that one.
Kofi: It is coming out, Celtic Warrior Workouts (CWW). As you can see here, I’m the smallest guy here. Nobody is going to go watch this - my ‘impressive’ physique. No. They want to see Woods, they want to see E. So, we’re going to build them up.
First, we’ll set the bar low on CWW, with me. You throw me in there and I’ll crack a couple of jokes, lift some light weight. Then you get Woods in there. You can see, he’s wearing long sleeves. You can’t see them but he got Mt. Woods (biceps) in those arms. And then you move over to the massive juggernaut that is Big E. That’s how you tell a story man.
They don’t stay in the Royal Rumble like you do. You have an entire countdown.
Kofi: I mean, yeah but I haven’t won! Quite frankly, we all end up in the same position. But yeah, we try to steal the show.
A word on the future of the tag team division. A year ago, the roster was little thin on Raw. There were not many teams. The handling of them, the issues are out there in the open. But now you see the likes of Tommaso Ciampa and Jonny Gargano getting called up. Aleister Black and Ricochet have formed a tag team of their own, despite being well accomplished single’s wrestlers. War Raiders are also there in NXT. So how do see the tag team division panning out?
Kofi: I think the future is very bright. You have got new guys coming in. I have a lot of history with Ciampa, with the War Raiders as well. I came up with them, they helped me train 12 years ago. And now to see themselves finally getting their dues, I know personally, how passionate they are. And to be able to think about the fact that we could be in the same ring and mix it up, I mean just the other day we were in the same locker room, it is great. Everybody has their history in NXT, especially with Gargano and Ciampa. To see that happening again on the main roster is something that I know people are really going to get a kick out of.
Let’s get to KofiMania. It has been trending worldwide. Mustafa Ali got injured and then you were seen as the guy who could replace him. Then came the gauntlet match on Smackdown Live and then the Elimination Chamber happened, where you were in the final two with Daniel Bryan. How did that come about and what do you feel about the response that you have received?
Kofi: The response has been overwhelming. First of all, Mustafa. You hate to see anybody get hurt. Watching him come up has been awesome. To see people come up and embrace the role of being a WWE superstar and take it to the next level. I think he has a lot of talent and I love watching him. When he got hurt, it was heart-breaking for all of us. You hate to see someone’s career halted for any reason.
I was then called in to fill his spot. You always have to stay ready because you never know when you’re going to thrusted to the position of having to perform. I was able to have a good showing in the Gauntlet match and then also in the Elimination Chamber.
The fans have been amazing. It has been longer than the past three weeks. I keep telling everybody that it has been eleven years waiting for this opportunity.
To see the response, it has all been positive on Twitter. I literally cannot get to the bottom of my feed, to read everyone’s comments. I cannot do it. The device only scrolls so far. People are behind the journey. Hopefully, there is a fulfilling conclusion by WrestleMania and everybody is happy. I don’t like getting too far ahead but we’ll see where it goes. I have been in this business for too long. You never know when something might happen or have the rug yanked out from under you. Like I had at Fastlane, when I was supposed to go against Daniel Bryan in a one-on-one. It sure has been a really fun ride and it has been awesome to see that support.
On WrestleMania, what can fans expect from you guys? Last year you were a big part of probably the biggest pop WWE has ever heard in recent times (Hardy Boys Return). How can you top that?
Woods: Feel like we’re always asked that question and it is something we can’t really figure out until the moment arrives. (At WrestleMania 34) We came out with a full box of Booty Os in Dragon Ball Z armours, we dressed up like characters from Final Fantasy 14 - there is always something we’re trying to do. It happens to be something that we’re interested in and the New Day fans that are rocking with us, they love it.
As far as what you can expect, probably our greatest entrance to date. Every WrestleMania we get more and more creative as we go on this ride.
I also wanted to touch upon the rivalry between Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch and Ronda Rousey. There is a possibility that those three would main event at WrestleMania 35 - a ground-breaking moment. You guys have seen it on the outside and from the inner-workings as well. So how do you view those three journey’s that going to culminate at that moment on the big stage?
Big E: I think it is dope. They have three unique stories. Ronda is a superstar and is a household name for quite some time. Then, you look at Charlotte and her lineage - not just relying on her father’s name. She’s such an incredible athlete. The performances that she has put together over the last several years are undeniable. And unquestionably, no one has had a better 2018 than Becky has. So, it has been very cool to see these stars in their own right. You walk away thinking ‘Ronda could retain that title, Charlotte could win that, Becky can as well’, so we have no idea. There are three dynamic superstars that could all close WrestleMania holding that title. And they’re really doing their best to bring their A-game. Stuff they are doing on Twitter, on social media - I have heard some of the women are legitimately afraid to Tweet at Becky...
Keep that F word out of your mouth and concentrate on getting better at this business instead of trying to remain above it. Looking forward to seeing you real soon. pic.twitter.com/i52k4sFh2X
— The Man (@BeckyLynchWWE) February 28, 2019
Woods: I know some of the men are...
Big E: Yeah…she will skewer them. They will roast them over an open fire. She is ruthless on Twitter. That’s the stuff that our fans really take to and are engaged by. We have Raw on Monday, Smackdown on Tuesday but in the meantime, you can follow this rivalry progress on Twitter, which is really cool and something you couldn’t do 10 years ago.
So there’s a lot to this. You could look at it and say they could legitimately close WrestleMania, and it feels like a match that has that kind of star power. Our fans are heavily invested, we as fellow performers to are heavily invested. We’re proud of them and they have taken their rightful spot, possibly, as the headlining act.
One last question. What’s next for the New Day?
Big E: Kofi! After 11 years...
Woods: Champion, right here, this man. That’s been the mantra since the New Day began. Finally to be on the doorstep, even though it was taken away from him at Fastlane, we will figure out a way for him to get what he deserves.
And this is not the first time Kofi has received a push like this. I recollect distinctly your rivalry with Randy Orton, when he was with Ted DiBiase Jr. and Cody Rhodes, and you ruined his NASCAR with paint on Raw and then at the PPV match, you Boom-Dropped him from the stage…
Kofi: That’s right baby. MSG (Maddison Square Garden). And I’ll do it again.
Woods: …and he pinned him while he was Champion and never got his shot. He’s been waiting but now it’s time! We’re going to make it happen.
(WrestleMania 35 is set to be held on April 7 and will be telecast on SONY TEN 1 and SONY TEN 3 channels.)
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