If you heard the names Ettore Ewen, Kofi Nahaje Sarkodie-Mensah, and Austin Watson you wouldn’t think much about them. But what if we said Ettore Ewen, Kofi Nahaje Sarkodie-Mensah, and Austin Watson were people who have spent the better part of the last decade, or longer, developing their craft inside and outside the ring? Many fans that follow the WWE may not know that Ettore Ewen, Kofi Nahaje Sarkodie-Mensah, and Austin Watson have gone by various aliases in the past.
During their time wrestling in independent promotions, Ewen, Sarkodie-Mensah and Watson were known for their various wrestling styles, and their ability to captivate an audience due to a diverse skill set and unrelenting attack. They were being noticed, and it was only a matter of time before they transitioned from the independents onto a much grander stage.
Much like anyone else’s career that undergoes a change, Ewen, Sarkodie-Mensah and Watson’s travels to different promotions throughout their careers have led them to go to a number of different of places. Whether it was competing in Japan or North America, Watson, Ewen and Sarkodie-Mensah really did everything they could to stand out while trying to evolve. Today, these wrestlers, who are as technically savvy as anyone in the ring, have gotten noticed because of their personality. They are among the most talked about WWE superstars today, and often many fans will chant that these guys rock. We give you 14 things the WWE wants you to forget about The New Day:
14. They were initially introduced as a faction managed by Xavier Woods
During the July 21st, 2014 edition of Monday Night Raw, the tandem of Big E and Kofi Kingston suffered a loss. This was part of a recent losing streak that they had endured. Immediately after, Xavier Woods came down to the ring with microphone in hand, dressed all in white, and made very specific statements to them to build them back up. He made statements like they could not get ahead “by kissing babies” and it was their time to shine. Later that same week, with Woods managing them, they won. However, it appears this idea was quickly scrapped, as they disappeared from television and were only seen on WWE’s house shows. Some believed that the gimmick would have a very black militant feel, much like the Nation of Domination. However, regardless of what the plans may have been, they were scrapped.
13. Their gimmick has been criticized for being racist
When they first appeared, they were a “face” faction that high-fived and jumped around, seeking approval from the fans; a gospel-inspired group promoting the power of positivity. But news publications have pointed out the blatant racial stereotypes that they used, whether it was smiling and dancing, or the pantomime of shooting dice when they get into the ring, playing craps because that happens in the “hood.” African-American wrestlers often get fitted with a stereotype, and while some may have criticized the positivity simply because it was obnoxious, others saw it as yet another case of African-Americans with a dancing gimmick that was more offensive than actually funny. They still haven’t done very much to dispel that criticism either, as they often play up to these characteristics by having over the top celebrations and dancing to the ring before each of their matches.
12. Their “unicorn” pony merchandise is tied to one of the members being a “Brony”
For anyone unfamiliar with the term Brony, it is someone, typically an adult male that is fan of My Little Pony. Like Star Trek has Trekkies that attend conventions, cosplay, and collect memorabilia, a Brony does something similar with things tied to My Little Pony. In early 2015, Xavier Woods identified himself as a Brony, wearing a Pegasus pony t-shirt; he also stated he was part of the My Little Pony fandom. That same pony was used as part of the New Day merchandise recently. The ongoing use of unicorns, and even professing to have unicorn magic, are all tied into Woods’ fandom. It was initially Dolph Ziggler that called Xavier Woods out on this towards the end of last year. The unicorn stampede, where each member tags into the ring and stomps on their opponent, was also named after this theme.
11. One member defeated a future WWE World Heavyweight Champion to capture the NXT Championship
When he arrived on the WWE main roster in 2012, Big E was still actively a part of the WWE’s NXT brand, and even held the NXT Championship – a title that not many on today’s roster can claim to have held. What was even more remarkable about this was that he held that title while pulling double duty on the main roster, acting as Dolph Ziggler’s muscle during Ziggler’s short-lived alliance with AJ Lee. Before being called up, Big E defeated a future WWE World Heavyweight Champion to capture the title, none other than Seth Rollins. Rollins was the inaugural NXT Champion, having won a tournament to capture the title. Big E has also captured singles titles as a part of the WWE’s main roster.
10. One member is currently working towards a PhD
When we see wrestlers in the ring, we only see a part of who and what they are. A number of wrestlers think beyond wrestling and what their careers may look like when they are finished in the ring. For one member of The New Day, it is just as important to prepare for life after wrestling as it was to prepare for active competition. This individual has not only earned two separate degrees, but is currently working towards his PhD in educational psychology at Capella University. Xavier Woods has earned a master’s degree in psychology and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, all while attending Furman University. It is remarkable to think that the trombone player within the New Day could eventually be a Doctor.
9. Video game fandom and rivalry against wrestlers outside the promotion
Wrestling and video games today go hand in hand. In the case of one particular member of The New Day, his fandom has been taken to even greater heights. This member has begun a YouTube channel called “UpUpDownDown,” named after the directions of a video game controller. It is on this program where the host, Xavier Woods, invites any number of different people to play video games. This has included such performers as Rollins and members of the Team B.A.D faction, as well as different video game personalities and personal friends. Woods’ love of all things video games is also permanently etched in ink. He has a tattoo of what is called the Hylian Royal Crest, from the video game series The Legend of Zelda on his left forearm. His passion is evident in all that he does. Woods, however, has been challenged by the likes of Kenny Omega, who competes outside the WWE as part of the New Japan Pro-Wrestling Promotion.
8. They were initially supposed to be a gospel-inspired group
The initial concept of the group was for them to represent stereotypical gospel-themed characters. Big E came out with a handkerchief reminiscent of Reverend Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton. However, in doing so, the group ran the risk of being positive to such an extent that they would infuriate fans, much like Bo Dallas. At one point, former WWE announcer Jim Ross suggested that wrestling fans would be critical of the group because of too much positivity. The risk they also ran was that fans were also aware of the racist connotation of having an all-black faction presented as a gospel-inspired trio. In wrestling, far too many African-American performers have been saddled with gimmicks that are more based on stereotype than a fair reflection of society.
7. They were guilty of merchandise infringement
Devastation Corp are an independent wrestling tag team that appears as colourful as any team in wrestling. They compete as part of the offbeat promotion Chikara. While many fans may not be aware of the team, a particular t-shirt of theirs bears a striking resemblance to the current unicorn-themed t-shirt New Day promotes. In a tweet that responded to Big E promoting the new merchandise, Devastation Corp replied that fans shouldn’t be caught up by imitations and pointed out their t-shirt. However, levering this criticism may have in fact heightened their sales. But while no publicity is bad publicity, this isn’t something the WWE wants to have brought to the forefront.
6. They have been challenged by The Elite
One group on the independent wrestling scene that doesn’t appear to shy away from the spotlight is The Elite. For those unaware, The Elite are an offshoot of The Bullet Club, composed of Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks. This group challenged The New Day and created merchandise that replicates theirs, right down to the color scheme and animation of the team members. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and the harmless challenges made by the Elite towards New Day have not only caught attention, but resulted in “New Day Sucks” chants whenever Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks compete. At the Ring of Honor 14th Anniversary PPV, those chants rang loud as Omega and the Bucks were in the ring.
5. Big E was initially introduced as Dolph Ziggler’s muscle
As a former NXT Champion and Intercontinental Champion, Big E has achieved success both in developmental and on the main roster. Today, fans aren’t reminded of the man that debuted by coming to the aid of Dolph Ziggler and attacking John Cena. When Big E made his debut on Raw towards the end of 2012, he debuted as a heel character that would stand silently and protect both AJ and Ziggler. The role of silent enforcer didn’t tap into the personality he has and how entertaining he can be on the mic. It is now a distant memory, and commentators not only don’t make reference to his past, but only discuss the here and now. His time as Dolph’s backup was fairly short-lived as the two went on to feud with one another when AJ and Dolph’s on-screen relationship ended.
4. One member once developed an Apollo Creed gimmick
During his run on the independent circuit, Woods also attended Furman University. It was in 2005 when Woods initially wrestled for the Rob Adonis Ultimate Christian Wrestling promotion. While competing out of South Carolina he created a character known as Austin Creed. However, unlike the name Apollo Crews, which the WWE created for Sesugh Uhaa, Woods’ character was a take on the Carl Weathers character from the Sylvester Stallone Rocky films, Apollo Creed. As time passed and he joined TNA, the name was changed to Consequences Creed. He once again dressed much like Weathers did in the film, wearing red, white and blue shorts and a top hat and jacket that was equally reflective of the character.
3. One member teamed with R-Truth in a different promotion prior to teaming with him in the WWE
When Xavier Woods first transitioned from NXT to the WWE main roster he was aligned with R-Truth. As fans may remember, he used Brodus Clay’s entrance music, and wasn’t considered a big deal. It turned into a big deal, however, as it led to a heel turn by Brodus and a feud with his own team mate. However, this isn’t the first time Xavier Woods and R-Truth were aligned with one another. During their time in TNA, R-Truth competed under his real name Ron “The Truth” Killings. Woods was a tag team replacement to work with Killings, and since Woods was wrestling under his Consequences Creed persona and his team with R-Truth was affectionately known as Truth and Consequences. So while the WWE may like to take credit for first having Woods appear alongside R-Truth, they’ve worked together before his debut on the main roster.
2. They have received praise from CM Punk
When one wrestler praises another it isn’t considered a bad thing in the least. One voice of support that New Day received was from former WWE Champion and current UFC fighter, CM Punk. During an interview, Punk shared how even though he doesn’t follow wrestling that didn’t mean he doesn’t maintain relationships with wrestlers. One such relationship was with Kofi Kingston, who is one third of the New Day. He once shared how he campaigned for talent such as Big E and Kofi in the past. He is quite pleased with the fact that they have managed to get over on their own, incorporating their own personality and creativity on screen. This is something WWE doesn’t want you to remember because of how Punk has never held back his feelings towards WWE, which are usually negative.
1. They have received criticism for the type of “heat” they receive
For all the success and interest in The New Day today, it took time for them to develop. The criticism is that they should have been trying to get heel heat, but often the comedic side of the group means they aren’t commonly acting in an irritating way, but rather in an amusing way that has generated a great following. Many point out they should be met with boos rather than cheers. This often hurt the faces they would challenge, as it was the faces that should be garnering the adulation from the crowd.