Big E’s Long-Awaited Singles Run Poses No Threat to The New Day’s Solidarity

Injuries to the other two members of The New Day have presented Big E with what fans have long been clamoring for: an opportunity to have a long singles run. It won’t come at the expense of the group, though.
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The future has arrived for Big E.

Long considered one of WWE’s cornerstones for compelling matches and entertaining interviews, Big E is now beginning a highly anticipated singles run. After years of waiting, this is his time to shine.

“I am not going to waste this shot,” said Big E, whose full name is Ettore Ewen. “I might not have this window open again. This is my chance.”

An eight-time tag team champion, Big E is best known for his work with Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods in The New Day. After he and Kingston dropped the SmackDown tag titles at last month’s Extreme Rules pay-per-view, they shared the screen together on the following week’s SmackDown for one of the most meaningful interviews of his career.

“All we did was this backstage promo where we talked about me doing singles, and now people are talking about world title runs,” said Ewen with a laugh. “For me, I’m very flattered and appreciative of that. It still floors me. All I said was I was going to do some singles. But I’m excited about it, and I’m excited that people are excited about it.”

Kingston did the majority of the talking in the interview, but that played a necessary and integral part of their story. Big E stood in Kingston’s corner during his world title run, and the new goal for The New Day is to elevate Big E into an entirely new realm of stardom atop the company. Few people are better suited for the position, as Big E stands out as a hero.

Playing the role of a babyface is particularly difficult in modern wrestling. Big E has massive size and power, and there is an abundance of substance to his work in the ring, but he connects with the WWE audience through his personality.

“I think of The Shield,” said Ewen. “Rightfully, they were the chosen ones. They were so talented. That wasn’t me, that wasn’t us. The New Day, we were three guys that had to get this on our own. We were all floundering when we came together. We all still have something to prove, and there’s been a fire lit under my ass.”

The members of The New Day have created their own success. Big E, Kingston, and Woods have not adhered to wrestling’s traditional customs. Although longtime partners in wrestling are destined to eventually split, The New Day has been gaining momentum since its inception in July 2014. The group has never splintered or been booked to wrestle against one another, which is one of the most miraculous feats in the industry over the past half-decade.

“Our story is one of brotherhood,” said Ewen. “That’s so different. Why can’t you have three men, three Black men that really care about each other, that want to see each other succeed? It’s not about stabbing each other in the back, it’s about coming together for a common cause. Kofi said, ‘When I became world champion, we all became world champion.’ He didn’t say it to set up a feud, he said it because he meant it.

“If you look at any stable in the 10 years, besides The Shield, I can’t think of very many where a break-up benefited everyone. There is so much more you can get out of the three of us staying together and believing in each other.”

Ewen noted that he is grateful to work with and learn from Kingston, a locker room leader for WWE who represents the company with dignity and grace.

“Every facet of the job, Kofi does it and does it well,” Ewen said. “Kofi sets an example. When he walks into a locker room, he treats everyone, whether it’s extra talent or top guys, with respect. He’s a true family man, and I love watching the way he interacts with his kids and the way he talks about them. He’s a consummate pro, a great human being, and he has everyone’s respect. He is an example of what a great wrestler and human should be.”

Kingston and Big E utilized their platform in WWE during a pivotal moment on SmackDown in June. After the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis sparked nationwide protests, the two members of The New Day made a statement that echoed across wrestling when they took a knee in the ring and each raised a fist in the air.

WWE's Big E and Kofi Kingston kneel in the ring on SmackDown

“It was important to us,” said Ewen. “Thankfully, we got support from the company, from Vince, everyone was on board. It was something that really weighed on us, and we felt like we really needed to make a statement. This is not a situation that will be resolved in a week or two, or two months, so I want to continue to have these conversations and continue to bring some awareness, and remain open-minded.

“After George Floyd’s murder, we had a conversation on our podcast where the underlying message was about being empathetic. We wanted people just to truly listen. We’re not here to point fingers or label people as racists. I’m here to tell you our experiences and how we feel. We want to work toward a better world, a better society, and it’s been really heartwarming to see the amount of support for that. We want to continue to have a positive impact on our world and be worthy of people’s fandom.”

The New Day is not whole without Xavier Woods, who is away from WWE programming while recovering from an Achilles injury. His influence continues to play a significant role in Big E’s success, providing the confidence and support necessary to present a different version of himself in WWE.

“I was so focused on being serious,” said Ewen. “All the guys I enjoyed watching as a kid were in that vein—Ron Simmons, Scott Steiner, Vader. The big, massive dudes that were ass-kickers, that’s what I wanted to be. But there were already guys that were taller and bigger on the main roster, like Brock Lesnar and Mark Henry, that were filling that role. I needed to find what made me different, what made me unique, and Woods really helped bring that out. He’s so free and creative and energetic, and goofy, and that allowed all of us to lean more toward that aspect of ourselves.

“There’s no New Day without him. If Woods doesn’t come up to me in 2014 and say, ‘Hey, I have an idea for a group. You want to join me?’ If that doesn’t happen, who knows where my career is right now, who knows if I’m even still employed here. He changed our lives. And the fact that he got the trombone over in wrestling? That’s incredible.”

The New Day’s journey is a story that exemplifies brotherhood as well as finding a way to triumph despite a constant array of roadblocks.

“I think it’s cool that our story is about men that care about each other,” said Ewen. “That’s different. We’re each unique, but we make sense together. And there is so much to be excited about in our future.”

There is no ceiling on Big E’s future. If given a proper build over the next four months, he would be a prime candidate to win the Royal Rumble match in January. He can main-event shows and cut tremendous promos, and he has mastered the difficult skill of effectively working as an underdog despite his strength and build. And it is especially compelling to watch him make his ascent to the top of the company, as he climbs to new heights by doing it his way.

“There is an expectation with being a world champion or a top guy, but I would rather people look back on our careers and say, ‘The New Day, they did something different,’” said Ewen. “I would much rather that, even if it means I do not have the amount of accolades I could have had if I was a copy of someone else.

“Even if you have a problem with me log-rolling down to the ring, I’m going to stay true to myself. I’d rather do it my way than follow someone else’s blueprint.”

A heavy responsibility has been placed onto the broad shoulders of Big E. He now represents those wrestlers that were told they had reached their ceiling, or were viewed as a talent that could draw an audience but never given the opportunity to be world champion–and he is ready to embrace it. Always evolving, Big E is ready to seize the spotlight.

“I’m not going to let down the people that support me,” said Ewen. “This run is about being authentic to myself and who I am. I still want to make people laugh and entertain them, and there is also this underlying determination. I’m excited to make the most of it.”

Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.