The WWE is loaded with talented, charismatic performers that occasionally slip through the cracks. Big E has always looked like a prototype all-star. He has a great-looking moveset, relatable personality, prodigious background as a power lifter and one of the best overall looks in the company -- but he started to drift after he hit the main roster.
Big E had solid runs as A.J. Lee’s bodyguard and as Intercontinental Champion, but spent most of 2014 off television entirely. It was the same story for guys like Fandango, Cesaro and Luke Harper -- all talented guys who haven’t quite found consistency in the company. (He’ll be back on TV in a big way on Saturday, wrestling The Dudley Boyz at Hell in a Cell,)
That all started to change at the end of 2014 with the creation of The New Day. After a less-than-stellar start, the stable of Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Xavier Woods has quickly become the best part of Raw every week. They put on great matches sure, but The New Day host a delightfully modern sense of humor that’s been missing from WWE television since… well, ever. These three men have figured out how to be sinister heels with rap jokes and Final Fantasy references, and they’ve ridden that unconventional train to the top of the card.
We recently caught up with Big E to talk about his journey, how he dealt with discouragement, his love of Sasha Banks, and who, if anyone, is funnier than The New Day backstage.
SI.com: The New Day are becoming a bigger part of storylines every week, you headlined against Cena on Raw recently, what’s it like being trusted with that slot?
Big E: I think we all thought we’d be good enough to get to this point. The biggest thing was our character and not looking like three guys that were thrown together.The last three to four months have been an absolute blast. It’s been the most fun I’ve had between the three of us. It doesn’t feel like we’re being forced down people’s throat which is great.
SI.com: We all knew you were a funny a guy, anyone who follows you on Twitter or Instagram knows that. But we didn’t really get to see it on TV during your IC title reign or when you were with Ziggler. It feels like you’re finally being able to be yourself with The New Day, has that been nice?
Big E: Part of the whole point of doing those Instagram videos was showing people that I had a different side of me. My whole time on the main roster was me being a stoic bodyguard, and I was still pretty stoic during the Intercontinental Title run. A lot of the promos didn’t feel like me, and I didn’t feel like I was captivating any attention. I wanted to show people that I had a personality. So yeah it’s been really nice to get a chance to show that on TV.
SI.com: If you could add a fourth member to The New Day, who would it be?
Big E: Sasha Banks, no question. She’s probably my favorite wrestler on the planet right now. The stuff she’s done with Bayley have been tremendous, both at Takeover: Brooklyn and the Iron Man Match. We’ve got a lot of respect for her, she’s on another level.
SI.com: If you could add a non-wrestler to The New Day, who would it be?
Big E: Ummm, how about Tim Tebow? He’s obviously in great shape and what not. I feel like it’d be a great fit!
SI.com: You, Kofi and Xavier are obviously all super funny, but outside of The New Day, who’s the funniest guy on the WWE roster?
Big E: I might go with Jimmy Uso. R-Truth is also pretty funny. Heath Slater… well Heath Slater is unintentionally funny.
SI.com: What makes Jimmy Uso funny?
Big E: He’s just very quick-witted, good with one-liners, he’s just a naturally funny guy.
SI.com: Who’s the toughest guy to work in the sense that after you’re done working with him you know you’re going to be sore the next day?
Big E: Sheamus has a reputation for being a little stiff. I’d say Sheamus and Titus O’Neil. Titus O’Neil can mess you up! You gotta protect yourself with Titus!
SI.com: You’ve had some ups and downs on the main roster and before The New Day happened you weren’t on TV much. Did you ever get discouraged?
Big E: I was extremely discouraged. You get to the point where you’re off TV and you look at the landscape around you and you’re like ‘Woah there’s not a lot for me,’ and it doesn’t turn around for a lot of guys like it has for us. We spent a lot of time working on this, and I think some younger people don’t understand how much work we put in. There are plenty of instances of ‘Oh this thing is dead in the water,’ or ‘Oh this thing is never going to work,’ but we were fortunate enough to persevere and get it off the ground. That’s the key. Sink or swim, we believed so much in this idea.