Q&A: The Street Profits on Moving to ‘SmackDown’ and Facing Off With the New Day

Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford greatly admire the guys in the New Day and are looking forward to their match at “Survivor Series.”
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Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins are two of WWE’s emerging stars. Working together as the Street Profits, they are the current SmackDown tag team champions and are building to a high-profile champion vs. champion match against the New Day at Survivor Series.

The Street Profits serve as an example of performers who have found a way to stand out even without a crowd during this pandemic era of pro wrestling. They were elevated to Raw from NXT in late 2019 following a call from Paul Heyman, who formerly served as the show’s executive director before transitioning back to a full-time capacity as an on-air character. The opportunity to showcase their personality and in-ring ability on Raw has helped the Profits develop into one of WWE’s top acts, and there are big plans for the team on SmackDown.

Ford is Kenneth Crawford, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, the husband of fellow WWE star Bianca Belair and one of WWE’s most charismatic performers. The 6' 5" Dawkins has an amateur wrestling background and has showcased his strengths as a powerhouse, but he also brings a unique energy and personality to the team.

Ford and Dawkins spoke with Sports Illustrated about the opportunity to work with the New Day, their goals as a team, and whether they will ever embark upon singles runs later in their careers.

Justin Barrasso: As we build to a champion vs. champion match at Survivor Series, we saw the New Day’s Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods playfully mock you both this Monday on Raw. Rivalry aside, it is pretty exciting that you are on the radar of two stars the level of Kofi and Woods. Over their careers, and including Big E in this discussion, New Day has played such a critical role in WWE’s success, ranging from in-ring ability, longevity, representation and even the ability to reinvent themselves. What do you most respect about the men that form the New Day?

Montez Ford: Those three individuals paved the way and gave us something to look up to and aspire toward. They’re three similar people with similar cultural upbringings, and we have so much respect for the way they continue to reinvent themselves. They made their mark and continue to do amazing work in this industry. To see guys who look like us and act like us, that is so cool to see. Look at the mark in history they’ve made. That makes us want to do the exact same thing, and more.

Angelo Dawkins: I look up to them for a lot of reasons. When I first started, Xavier Woods was the guy who took me under his wing. He taught me the ways of going about being a professional. Watching all three of them, the way they carry themselves professionally, the way they compete, and the manner they take all obstacles head on.

I was really laughing about the impression they did of us this past Monday. I was laughing the whole time. Kofi had me down to a T. One of our first backstage interviews on Raw, we were in Toronto, and that was where I’d partied a little too much with Ric Flair. I ended up having to chug a whole gallon of water, and I was pretty much asleep the entire time backstage, so hearing Kofi say ‘Fam’ every other word like I normally do, and falling asleep in between, and then Woods saying, ‘You can’t go full Dawkins!’, that was really good. I can’t wait for our rebuttal on SmackDown.

JB: Are you a little disappointed that Big E won’t be in the match at Survivor Series? A Dawkins-Big E faceoff would have been special.

AD: That would have been fun, but I have a feeling Big E will still be there. He’ll be rooting for his boys, and we’re on the same brand as him.

After the match, it’s going to be all love. We’ve got nothing but love and respect for one another. They set the bar, and we’re just trying to get to that level.

MF: Right now, Big E’s doing his thing, but I would not be surprised to see him ringside. We’ll see if he’s crazy enough to get involved. In some form or fashion, I think he’ll be there.

JB: What opportunities does a match with the New Day allow for the Street Profits, especially as you continue to elevate yourselves into a key role within the company?

MF: This is a chance to show we belong. We’re going to be in there with two superstars. Kofi is a former world champion. The fact that we’re in there with two men we look up to, sharing a stage as historic as Survivor Series, this is our opportunity to make our mark and show that we belong.

AD: We’ve had success in WWE, but we know we’re the underdogs here. New Day has so much experience in these situations. They know how to make the most of it, and they’ve been carrying the torch of the tag division for the last several years. Me and Tez want to be in that category of tag teams—New Day, Dudley Boyz, Harlem Heat, Hardys, the Usos—we want to be in that discussion.

JB: We have seen almost everything in pro wrestling, and by extension, WWE, but we never saw teams trade tag titles before. What was your initial reaction upon learning you were moving to SmackDown, even though you were Raw tag team champions?

MF: It was a shock to us. But we’ve been around this business long enough to know our history. Ted DiBiase became the world champion after paying off Andre the Giant to pin Hulk Hogan. That’s an all-time moment, we still remember it. For us and New Day, the way we did it, it made sense. It’s a great way to have us face each other at Survivor Series.

AD: My first initial thought was we were headed for a match. New Day got drafted to Raw on Friday, and we were drafted to SmackDown a few days later. I thought we were going to wrestle them for the SmackDown tag Titles, and then they’d wrestle us for the Raw tag Titles. I thought we were going to wrestle twice, and I would have been down for it.

JB: Both of you have a charisma that is undeniable, and your connection with the crowd is a key part of your success. As two stars who are still finding themselves in WWE, what has that process been like without a crowd?

MF: We still want to grab your attention. Under the conditions we’re in, this is the safest and best way to entertain the fans. And it extends farther than TV. Maybe someone won’t see us on Raw or SmackDown, but they can still connect with us on social media. We want to be a constant form of entertainment.

AD: We just came up to Raw last year, so it worked to our advantage because we were already spending every day at the Performance Center. That was part of our normal daily grind and working shows at the PC felt like being at home. I’ve been there since that place opened, so it felt good to me. But don’t get me wrong, I miss the crowd. That adrenaline, you can’t get it anywhere else. You can’t practice or prep for that kind of adrenaline, you just need to go out there and feel it.

JB: Taking us a little behind the curtain, success in pro wrestling is such a group effort. How did Paul Heyman enhance your confidence during his run as executive director of Raw?

AD: Paul made the biggest difference by offering these simple words, ‘Just be you.’ He wanted us to do exactly what we were doing and be ourselves. As soon as he said that, we just took it and ran with it. Paul put a lot of trust in us. I thank him dearly for that.

Paul is the reason we ended up on Raw. He’s the catalyst for why we’re in the position we’re in right now. He saw us putting in work at the PC, and Paul said, ‘I want those guys.’ And when he felt like we weren’t being ourselves, he let us know right off the bat. Luckily it only happened once, but we always took the advice that he gave us. He trusted us, gave us a platform, and we’ve been executing on it ever since.

MF: To piggyback off what Dawk said, Paul was very determined to make sure we were being ourselves. He felt that was the best way to succeed, and he had faith and trusted in us to do what we needed to do. That spoke volumes to us. He was the pivotal point in our transition from NXT. I thank God for Paul.

JB: I know two hours on SmackDown or three hours of Raw every week seems like a lot of television, but for the performers, there are only limited spots. There is so much of both of you that we have yet to see in terms of personality and in-ring work. What is a part of your character you would like to showcase soon?

MF: I want us to show how we can adapt, whether it’s against a new tag team or in a different storyline. That’s what the Street Profits are—we can adapt in every situation.

AD: Between the two of us, Tez is the crazy one. He’s more energetic, I’m a little more serious. I need to be outside of my shell a little more. I can be just as fun, and I can show that. I have a few different layers I want to show, and more aggression is another one, too.

JB: Will we ever see singles runs? Or is the plan to remain a team?

AD: The plan is to remain a team. If singles runs happen, we’ll be there to support one another. I’ll support Tez and I’m sure he’ll support me, but the main goal for us right now is to raise up into the upper echelon of the tag team division.

MF: If that ever happens, I feel like it will be a similar scenario to the New Day. They’re in support of Big E in his singles run. I want people I love and care about to succeed, whether it’s Dawkins going solo or seeing my wife be successful, I want to see that happen whether we’re together or whether we’re solo.

JB: SmackDown is new territory to claim for the Street Profits. What excites you most about the move to Friday nights?

MF: This is a way for us to reintroduce ourselves to a whole new side of the world. The Fox audience is different from the USA Network audience or the NXT audience, so we want to make our mark. There are more tag teams, experienced tag teams that have had championship runs, so that’s very exciting for us.

AD: The chance to be on Fox, that’s number one. Being on that platform is going to be fun. What better night is there than Friday to have the Street Profits on your TV? Friday is the beginning of the weekend if I’m not mistaken, so it’s perfect for us. It’s a chance to get to a different audience for us and line up against different competition each and every week. And we won’t look too far forward, but we have a big one coming up against the New Day at the Survivor Series.

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