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Even in Defeat, Big E Soars to New Heights at WWE’s ‘Survivor Series’

Universal champion Roman Reigns won the match, but the WWE champ made a statement with his performance.

BROOKLYN — A weekend that included a high-profile role at a championship boxing bout in Las Vegas ended in style 2,500 miles away at the Barclays Center, as Big E closed out Survivor Series against Roman Reigns in his first main event as WWE champion.

Reigns, who holds WWE’s universal title, emerged victorious in the battle of champions. But it was Big E who made an emphatic statement in the match, establishing himself as a genuine force as champion and proving he is every bit Reigns’ equal.

“This was my first singles main event on a pay-per-view, and to do it with Roman means even more,” Ettore “Big E” Ewen says. “Our paths were different, but after the match, we reflected on spending our days, circa 2010, together in that FCW warehouse. We were not making much money but we were very hungry.”

Reigns is regarded as one of the industry’s elite performers, but Ewen notes that he is even better than people think.

“His strength and athleticism are real,” Ewen says. “He even got me up in that powerbomb. I thought he was going to bail on it, but he had that second surge to get me up.

“Until you’re in the ring with him, people just don’t fully realize how good he is. He’s an incredible performer on an incredible run, and you can’t take away anything from him.“

The story of the match saw Reigns seize control with his strength, overpowering Big E and then drilling him repeatedly with a flurry of his trademark Superman punches. Yet Reigns simply could not put E away, and his resilience helped amplify the chemistry between the two performers. That narrative also captured Ewen’s fighting spirit, serving as a direct parallel to his career.

“I can’t say that I’m a guy that’s always fought from underneath—I debuted as Dolph Ziggler’s bodyguard and I dropped John Cena, so I can’t pretend that I was never given anything,” Ewen says. “But I’m a guy that is barely 5' 11"; I didn’t have all these accolades coming into the business, and even though I’m not the Roman type, it’s all about that fight for me. My life has been filled with learning how to get up after getting knocked down.”

Ewen is the rarest type of WWE star, a babyface beloved by the masses. He embeds joy into his work, as well as an honest approach where he is willing to act as a voice for those who need one.

“I’ve been inspired by so many people who were vocal about their stories,” Ewen says. “Even if just a few people who connect with my story, or the way I talk about mental illness or the way I talk about George Floyd, that means the world to me.”

A decades-long WWE staple, Survivor Series delivered an entertaining night full of action. Becky Lynch defeated Charlotte Flair in an incredibly captivating match to open the show. Seth Rollins lasted as the sole survivor in the men’s five-on-five elimination match, Omos won a 25-man battle royal, and Bianca Belair overcame the odds to be the lone survivor in the women’s five-on-five match. And on the night he set a new record for most pay-per-view matches in WWE history, Randy Orton hit a phenomenal RKO on Jimmy Uso, who was mid-air coming off the top rope, leading to the winning pinfall for RK-Bro against The Usos.

Survivor Series weekend was a whirling dervish of activity for Ewen, who spent Saturday night introducing Shawn Porter moments before he challenged Terence Crawford for the WBO welterweight title. That trip took flight after Friday’s SmackDown in Hartford, Conn., as Ewen flew out of Newark, N.J., early Saturday morning to go to Vegas, where he arrived just in time for rehearsals.

“Everything went off without a hitch,” Ewen says. “That’s a huge thanks to my buddy Andreas Hale, who set everything up. Everything was amazing.”

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Ewen last introduced Porter before a fight in 2019, but due to obligations with WWE, he had to depart before the fight actually started. This time, Ewen was able to stay for the title bout.

“The last time I did the intro for Shawn, it was the Errol Spence Jr. fight, but we had a signing so I had to jet out of there,” Ewen says. “Saturday, I was able to watch the whole fight. Then we took a red-eye to Newark and got in at six in the morning. I got four hours worth of sleep at the hotel in Brooklyn, then arrived at the Barclays for the Survivor Series.”

The weekend’s series of events further highlighted Big E’s brilliance as champ, both in and out of the ring.

“It helps make my reign feel more important, and I always think it’s so cool to see WWE talent doing things outside of wrestling,” Ewen says. “I look at people like The Rock, John Cena and Dave Bautista taking off in Hollywood. That benefits our industry so much. It shows that WWE talent are great entertainers, and that attracts more eyes to our product.”

Always thinking ahead, Ewen is optimistic that his next project will involve another passion.

“I love hip hop, and I’d love to do something with Wale,” Ewen says. “We need to cook something up.”

Coming out of Survivor Series, it feels like Big E’s title reign is just getting started. He has ongoing stories with Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens, and he just proved he can hang with Roman Reigns.

“The responsibilities haven’t become easier, but I’m ready for it and I’m ready for more,” Ewen says. “Seth and KO on Raw, they are two of the best, so I need to bring it. And I’m excited about all these opportunities to grow and get better.

“I’m not home much, I’m not sleeping much, but it feels like I’m exactly where I should be.”

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

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