The New Day (professional wrestling)

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The New Day
The New Day WrestleMania 32 Axxess.jpg
The New Day as a trio (from left to right: Xavier Woods, Big E, and Kofi Kingston) at WrestleMania Axxess in April 2016.
Tag team
MembersKofi Kingston
Xavier Woods
Name(s)The New Day
Billed heightsKingston: 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Woods: 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Combined
billed weight
417 lb (189 kg)
Former
member(s)
Big E
DebutJuly 21, 2014
Years active2014–present

The New Day is a professional wrestling tag team consisting of Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods. The team is currently performing in WWE on the Raw brand.

One of the most popular and decorated teams in WWE history, The New Day holds several records – including, at one point, the longest tag team championship reign in WWE history at 483 days,[a] and the most reigns as SmackDown Tag Team Champions at seven; they are overall 11-time tag team champions in the company. While as a trio, The New Day defended all their tag team titles under the Freebird rule, with all three members being recognized as champions.

The stable was formed by Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods on the July 21, 2014 episode of Raw, but made their debut as The New Day on the November 28, 2014 episode of SmackDown. In April 2015 at Extreme Rules, they won their first WWE Tag Team Championship. They lost the championship to The Prime Time Players the following month at Money in the Bank, but won it back in August at SummerSlam; their second reign became the longest in the title's history, the first to last more than a year, and the last with the title being the sole tag team championship in WWE, as it was renamed Raw Tag Team Championship in September 2016 following the creation of the SmackDown Tag Team Championship. In December 2016, they set the record for the longest tag team championship reign in WWE history at 483 days (surpassing Demolition's 28-year-old record of 478 days with WWE's original World Tag Team Championship) and, at that time, the longest reigning champions for any WWE championship over the last two decades—both records would be broken by champions on WWE's NXT UK brand.[b] After being drafted to the SmackDown brand in April 2017, the stable went on to capture the SmackDown Tag Team Championship a record seven times; while part of the brand, Kingston also won the WWE Championship in 2019. In October 2020, Kingston and Woods were drafted to the Raw brand as The New Day, while Big E was independently drafted to remain on the SmackDown brand, thus splitting Big E from The New Day. The trio had their final match together as a team on the October 16 episode of SmackDown, though briefly appeared together again at Survivor Series the following month to promote their appearance in the video game Gears 5.

The early months of the stable as stereotypical black gospel babyface characters were marked by largely negative reactions from fans and critics alike, but after transitioning their characters into heels fanatically obsessed with the "power of positivity" in April 2015, they began to receive acclaim for their entertainment value, as well as for their in-ring performances.[1][2][3][4] In 2015, the trio were collectively named "WWE Wrestler of the Year" by Rolling Stone, while also being recognized as the "Best Gimmick" of the year by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.[5][6] Additionally, they became the first trio to win the Pro Wrestling Illustrated award for "Tag Team of the Year", doing so in 2015 and 2016 (the first two wins in a row in this category for two decades). Their new-found popularity resulted in the trio reverting to babyfaces in early 2016, which they have remained since.

The three, who are close friends in real life, also appear or work together outside of wrestling, notably writing the 2016 novel, The Book of Booty: Shake It. Love It. Never Be It. Although apart on WWE television, the trio continue to run a weekly podcast called Feel the Power (named after one of their catchphrases), which they started in 2019.

History[edit]

Background and formation[edit]

After wrestling in WWE's developmental territories Deep South Wrestling (DSW), Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) and Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) since September 2006, Kofi Kingston made his WWE debut on ECW in January 2008. He subsequently came to have an extensive singles career, becoming a four-time Intercontinental Champion and a three-time United States Champion; he had also been part of several tag teams, including with CM Punk, Evan Bourne and R-Truth, all of whom he won tag team championships with.[7] Big E began his career in FCW and then in NXT, where he became NXT Champion.[8] On the December 17, 2012 episode of Raw, he made his main roster debut aligning himself with Dolph Ziggler and AJ Lee and later winning the Intercontinental Championship.[9][10] Xavier Woods signed to WWE in 2010 and worked in FCW and NXT until the November 18, 2013 episode of Raw, when he made his main roster debut.[11]

Woods, then in college, had first met Kingston in 2006 or 2007 when he had entered the DSW building to apply for a wrestling job, and Kingston was working in the ring at the exact same moment. Woods got the job, but DSW closed soon after; when Woods came to FCW two years later to similarly apply for another wrestling job, Kingston was, coincidentally, once again present and working in the ring.[12][13]

The stable originated from an idea backstage by Woods, who, after not being given storylines or much time on-screen, worked on creating a "snarky, intelligent, running his mouth, just like total punk" heel character for himself. As his friend Big E was in a similar situation career-wise, they decided to work together on being a team instead, spending several weeks taping promos and pitching ideas in order to create their new characters. As they felt that something was still missing from the team, they had the idea of including Kingston, who was also at a low point of his career; however, they had doubts that WWE would let Kingston, who had been a babyface his entire career, turn heel, and changed the characters so they would be babyfaces who, according to Woods, were "three guys, who came from kind of the same background, that just want more from life, more from their jobs, more from their friends, more from everything around them."[14][15] In October 2020, the trio stated that they had considered adding a woman to the group, with Sasha Banks being their top pick.[16] Big E also revealed that Alicia Fox and Damien Sandow were considered to be additions to the faction.[17]

Original run and gospel era (2014–2015)[edit]

On the July 21, 2014 episode of Raw, after Big E and Kingston, who had started pairing up in tag team matches earlier the same month, suffered another loss in what had been ongoing losing streaks for both, Woods came down to address the two and he declared that they could not "get ahead by kissing babies and shaking hands", and that it would be "their time to shine".[18] The duo then joined Woods and on the following day on Main Event, Woods managed Big E and Kingston to a decisive victory over Slater-Gator (Heath Slater and Titus O'Neil).[19] However, the group disappeared from television soon after due to WWE creative being unconvinced by their gimmick; they continued to make appearances together at house shows in two-on-two tag team matches, regularly switching the two competing members while the third one acted as manager.[20][21][22][23][24]

The New Day appearing in their gospel era blue outfits on Main Event in January 2015

From the November 3 episode of Raw, WWE began airing vignettes for Big E, Kingston and Woods, with the stable now being billed as The New Day, displaying a heroic black gospel gimmick.[25] The New Day made their in-ring debut on the November 28 episode of SmackDown in a winning effort against Curtis Axel, Heath Slater and Titus O'Neil.[26] On the December 1 episode of Raw, Kingston and Woods competed in a tag team turmoil match to determine the number one contenders for the WWE Tag Team Championship, eliminating Gold and Stardust, before being eliminated by Tyson Kidd and Cesaro.[27] At the TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs pre-show on December 14, Big E and Kingston defeated Gold and Stardust.[28]

On the January 5, 2015 episode of Raw, while Big E was on his way to a victory against Adam Rose, the team of Kidd and Cesaro, masquerading as Rosebuds, interfered by laying out Woods on the outside and performing their finisher on Big E in the ring.[29] At the Royal Rumble, The New Day's winning streak came to an end when Tyson Kidd and Cesaro defeated Big E and Kingston.[30] A fatal four-way match for the WWE Tag Team Championship took place on the WrestleMania 31 pre-show on March 29, including The New Day, but they failed to win the championship.[31]

Longest-reigning Tag Team Champions (2015–2016)[edit]

The New Day appearing on the Raw after WrestleMania 32

On the March 30 episode of Raw, they were involved in an eight-man tag team match alongside The Lucha Dragons (Kalisto and Sin Cara) against Kidd, Cesaro and The Ascension.[32] During the match, the live audience responded negatively to The New Day with loud "New Day sucks!" chants which carried over into the following weeks.[33] When asked about the crowd's disapproval of them in a backstage interview on the April 6 episode of Raw, The New Day claimed that they were hurt and responded in a more aggressive tone, yet maintained their upbeat nature. During their following match against The Lucha Dragons, Kingston attempted a cheap shot from the outside, even though he was not actually involved in the bout, turning all three men into heels in the process.[34] On the April 20 episode of Raw, The New Day defeated The Lucha Dragons via countout to become the number one contenders for the WWE Tag Team Championship after Woods held onto Sin Cara's feet to prevent him from re-entering the ring.[35]

At Extreme Rules on April 26, The New Day defeated Kidd and Cesaro to capture the WWE Tag Team Championship; Big E and Kingston were the participants in the match, but WWE also recognized Woods as champion under the Freebird Rule, in which any two members of a stable can compete for the titles.[36] At Payback on May 17, Big E and Kingston defeated Kidd and Cesaro in a two-out-of-three falls match to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship after Woods pinned Cesaro, despite not being a legal participant in the match.[37] At Elimination Chamber on May 31, all three New Day members competed in the first-ever tag team Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Tag Team Championship, where they lastly eliminated The Prime Time Players (Darren Young and Titus O'Neil) to retain their titles.[38] However, at Money in the Bank on June 14, Big E and Woods lost the championships to The Prime Time Players. Big E and Kingston then lost their rematch at Battleground on July 19.[39] The New Day would regain the championship after they defeated Los Matadores (Diego and Fernando), The Lucha Dragons and The Prime Time Players in a fatal four-way match at SummerSlam on August 23. Despite being heels, the trio received heavy positive reactions from audiences who began to chant "New Day rocks!". The following night on Raw, they were attacked by the returning Dudley Boyz, with Woods being put through a table.[40] This started a feud between the two teams, setting up a title match at Night of Champions on September 20, where Big E and Kingston lost by disqualification, though, by rule, they retained their titles. They lost via disqualification to retain their championships again in a rematch against The Dudley Boyz at WWE Live from Madison Square Garden,[41] but defeated them via pinfall at Hell in a Cell on October 25 to retain the titles, thus ending their feud.[42] The New Day led their own team at Survivor Series including Sheamus and King Barrett, but left the match prematurely to tend to Big E after his elimination, leading to their team's eventual loss.[43] At TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs on December 13, they retained the WWE Tag Team Championship against The Lucha Dragons and The Usos (Jimmy and Jey Uso) in a triple threat ladder match.[44] The New Day then successfully defended their titles against The Lucha Dragons on the special December 22 episode of Super SmackDown Live![45] and against The Usos on January 24, 2016 at the Royal Rumble event.[46]

Kingston, Big E and Woods inducting The Fabulous Freebirds into the WWE Hall of Fame in April 2016

At Fastlane on February 21, The New Day began mocking The League of Nations (Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, Rusev and King Barrett), calling them the "League of Booty".[47] They then continued to mock The League of Nations in various segments and skits while simultaneously feuding with other teams and turning into fan favorites in the process.[48] The New Day then retained their titles at Roadblock against Sheamus and Barrett on March 12[49] and the following night on Raw against Del Rio and Rusev, but were attacked by the entire League of Nations afterwards.[50] This led to a non-title six-man tag team match between the two stables at WrestleMania 32 on April 3, where The New Day lost,[51] but Big E and Kingston retained their championships once again against Sheamus and Barrett the following night on Raw.[52] At Payback on May 1, the final match of the tournament to determine the number one contenders for the WWE Tag Team Championship between Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady and The Vaudevillains (Aiden English and Simon Gotch) ended in a no contest after Amore suffered a legitimate concussion during the match.[53] As a result, The New Day faced The Vaudevillains for the WWE Tag Team Championship at Extreme Rules on May 22, where they successfully retained their championship after Kingston interfered.[54] On the May 30 episode of Raw, The New Day defeated The Vaudevillains in a non-title match via disqualification after they were attacked by Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, sparking a feud between them.[55] At Money in the Bank on June 19, The New Day defeated Gallows and Anderson, The Vaudevillains and Enzo and Cass in a fatal-four-way match to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship and, as of that victory, they hold the record for the longest combined reign as a tag team.[56] On the June 20 episode of Raw, The New Day confronted returning The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan and Braun Strowman) and interrupted Wyatt's promo, thus starting a feud between the two teams[57] that would lead to a non-title six-man tag team match at Battleground on July 24, where they would lose.[58][59]

The New Day making their entrance in September 2016

During the 2016 WWE draft, The New Day were drafted to the Raw brand, making the WWE Tag Team Championship exclusive to the brand.[60] In parallel to a lengthy feud with Gallows and Anderson over the titles, The New Day became the longest reigning WWE Tag Team Champions in the title's history, breaking the old record of 331 days previously set by Paul London and Brian Kendrick[61] and, after the creation of the SmackDown Tag Team Championship for the SmackDown brand,[62] became the last people to have held their championship as the sole tag team title in WWE and the first to hold it under its new name of Raw Tag Team Championship.[63] The New Day would continue to successfully retain their championships against Gallows and Anderson in the following months, such as SummerSlam on August 21,[64] Clash of Champions on September 25[65] and the following night on Raw, ending their feud in the process.[66]

After their feud with Gallows and Anderson, The New Day began feuding with Cesaro and Sheamus and at Hell in a Cell on October 30, The New Day were defeated by Cesaro and Sheamus via disqualification, but they retained the titles as a result.[67] On the October 31 episode of Raw, The New Day revealed that they were made captain of Team Raw for the 10-on-10 Survivor Series Tag Team Elimination match at Survivor Series.[68] At the event on November 20, they made the first elimination, but were then eliminated themselves by The Usos.[69] However, Team Raw still won the match thanks to Cesaro and Sheamus.[70] On the two following Raw episodes, The New Day successfully retained their titles against Cesaro and Sheamus and then Gallows and Anderson, respectively.[68][71]

On the December 12 episode of Raw, after successfully defending their titles in two successive triple threat tag team matches – first against Cesaro and Sheamus and Gallows and Anderson, and then against the team of Chris Jericho and WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens, and the team of Seth Rollins and United States Champion Roman Reigns – The New Day broke Demolition's 28-year-old record to have the longest single-run with any tag team championship in WWE history.[72] Demolition held this record with WWE's original World Tag Team Championship and still hold the specific record for that (defunct) version of the titles.[73] At Roadblock: End of the Line on December 18, The New Day's reign ended at 483 days after they lost the championships to Cesaro and Sheamus.[74] On the December 26 episode of Raw, The New Day received a rematch, but failed to reclaim the championships.[75]

SmackDown Tag Team Champions (2017–2019)[edit]

The New Day would go on to host WrestleMania 33, and the following night on Raw, lost to the debuting team The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder). After the match, Kingston was attacked by The Revival, resulting in a legitimate ankle injury.[76][77]

On April 11, 2017, The New Day were moved to the SmackDown brand as part of Superstar Shake-up; however, they did not appear for several weeks due to Kingston's ankle injury. After appearing on Talking Smack on May 23, the trio fully returned on May 30, setting their sights on The Usos' SmackDown Tag Team Championship. In the two teams' first encounter at Money in the Bank, Big E and Kingston won the match by countout, but not the title. In a rematch at Battleground, Kingston and Woods captured the titles; this marked the first time that Woods took an active part in winning a championship and his first championship-winning pinfall in WWE. They lost the title back to The Usos on the SummerSlam 2017 pre-show, regained it on the September 12 episode of SmackDown Live in a Sin City Street Fight, and lost it again in a highly acclaimed Hell in a Cell match at the pay-per-view of the same name.

The New Day at WrestleMania 34

In the build-up to Survivor Series, The New Day helped the rest of the SmackDown roster attack the Raw roster. They also engaged in a rivalry with The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins) of the Raw brand, and on the November 6 episode of Raw, The New Day alone invaded Raw for the second time, ultimately costing Rollins and Ambrose the Raw Tag Team Championship to Cesaro and Sheamus. At Survivor Series, however, The New Day lost to The Shield in an interbrand six-man tag team match. At Fastlane, The New Day faced The Usos for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship, but the match ended in a no contest after interference from The Bludgeon Brothers (Harper and Rowan). At WrestleMania 34, all three teams competed in a triple threat tag team match for the titles, which The Bludgeon Brothers won.[78]

After failing to win the title at SummerSlam, when they defeated the champions by disqualification, The New Day defeated The Bludgeon Brothers in a No Disqualification match two days later on SmackDown to capture the titles for a third time. They held the titles until October 16, 2018, when they were defeated by Cesaro and Sheamus on SmackDown 1000 after Big Show attacked Kingston outside the ring.[79] They would fail to regain the titles at Crown Jewel event. Two weeks later, they made up part of Team SmackDown in a 5-on-5 tag-team elimination match at Survivor Series, in which they defeated Team Raw. At TLC, The New Day would again fail to win the championship from The Bar, in a triple-threat tag team match also involving The Usos. On the January 1, 2019 episode of SmackDown Live, the entire New Day announced their entry into the Men's Royal Rumble match at the Royal Rumble event on January 27; all three were unsuccessful.[80]

Championship reigns and brand separation (2019–2020)[edit]

On the February 12 episode of SmackDown Live, one member of The New Day was scheduled to replace Mustafa Ali in the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber match at the namesake pay-per-view after Ali suffered an injury, and Kingston was selected as his replacement. Kingston then participated in a Gauntlet match to determine the last entrant in the Chamber match, where he started off with WWE Champion Daniel Bryan. Kingston lasted over an hour all while eliminating Bryan, Jeff Hardy and Samoa Joe, before being eliminated by AJ Styles.[81] At the pay-per-view, Kingston was the third entrant in the match, and went on to eliminate Randy Orton and make it to the final two, before being eliminated by Daniel Bryan. After pinning Daniel Bryan in a six-man tag team match, Kingston was granted a WWE Championship match at Fastlane,[82] but was replaced during his contract signing by a returning Kevin Owens per the order of Mr. McMahon.[83] On March 10 at Fastlane, Kingston was apparently added into the title match by McMahon, but after entering the ring, it was instead announced that he would face The Bar in a handicap match, which Kingston subsequently lost.[84] On the SmackDown Live following Fastlane, Kingston was faced with yet another challenge set forth by McMahon. This time, to face Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 35, Kingston would have to defeat Sheamus, Cesaro, Rowan, Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton one after the other in a gauntlet match the following week. Kingston would succeed in the gauntlet match before McMahon told him that he had one more opponent in Daniel Bryan, to whom he would ultimately lose. On the March 26 episode of SmackDown, McMahon announced that Big E and Xavier Woods of The New Day would compete in a tag team gauntlet match, and if they defeated every team, Kingston would go on to WrestleMania to face Bryan for the WWE Championship. Big E and Woods would go on to defeat Gallows and Anderson, Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev, The Bar, The Usos (who forfeited), and the team of Daniel Bryan and Rowan. Mr. McMahon would confirm at the end of the show that Kingston would indeed face Bryan at WrestleMania for the title.[85]

In 2019, The New Day dominated SmackDown, where Kingston (top) was a WWE Champion, and Big E (middle) and Woods (bottom) were SmackDown Tag Team Champions for a long time.

At WrestleMania, Kingston won the match to become the WWE Champion for the first time in his career. In doing so, he became the first African-born WWE Champion.[86] On the April 16 episode of SmackDown, Kevin Owens became an honorary member of the stable in the absence of an injured Big E. Kingston, Owens and Woods won their first match together as a team the same night in a six-man tag team match against Cesaro, Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura. The following week, Kingston faced Nakamura in a non-title match where Kingston won via disqualification after Rusev interfered. After the match, Owens attacked both Kingston and Woods thus, disbanding him from the group. The following week, Kingston then challenged Owens to a match at Money in the Bank with his title on the line where Kofi emerged as victorious.[87] At Extreme Rules, Kingston retained the WWE Championship against Samoa Joe, while Big E and Woods won the SmackDown Tag Team Championship by defeating former champions Daniel Bryan and Rowan, and Heavy Machinery (Otis and Tucker), making The New Day record-tying four-time SmackDown Tag Team Champions (technically also making Kingston a double champion during this time due to the Freebird Rule).[88][89] They lost the titles to The Revival at Clash of Champions,[90] and Kingston lost the WWE Championship to Brock Lesnar during SmackDown's 20th Anniversary on October 4.[91]

On the November 8 episode of SmackDown, The New Day (represented by Big E and Kingston, as Woods was inactive due to injury) regained the SmackDown Tag Team Championship from The Revival, becoming record five-time champions.[92] At TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, Big E and Kingston successfully defended the titles against The Revival in a ladder match.[93] At Super ShowDown on February 27, 2020, The New Day lost the titles to John Morrison and The Miz, ending their reign at 111 days.[94] At WrestleMania 36, Kingston, who represented The New Day, failed to win the titles back from Morrison, who represented himself and Miz, in a triple threat ladder match, also involving Jimmy Uso, who represented The Usos.[95][96] A rematch took place on the April 17 episode of SmackDown, where Big E, who represented The New Day, won the titles back from Miz, who represented himself and Morrison, in a triple threat match, also involving Jey Uso, who represented The Usos, and this makes The New Day six-time SmackDown Tag Team Champions.[97] At The Horror Show at Extreme Rules, The New Day would lose the championships to Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura in a Tables match after Cesaro and Nakamura put Kingston through two tables. On the July 24 episode of SmackDown, Kingston revealed that he would be out of action for 6 weeks due to a back injury and gave Big E the blessing to go on a solo run.[98][99] Big E would then embark on his singles run as he entered a feud with Sheamus defeating him at Payback and on the October 9 episode of SmackDown in a Falls Count Anywhere match.[100]

On the October 9 episode of SmackDown, both Kingston and Woods returned from injury and defeated Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura, winning their seventh SmackDown Tag Team Championship; immediately after the match, the trio were given the announcement that Kingston and Woods were being drafted to Raw as part of the 2020 Draft, while Big E remained on SmackDown, splitting the group across brands for the first time; it also marked the first time that members of The New Day would hold tag titles without all three members being champions, as Big E was not considered champion.[101][102] Although this originally led to reports in the media that Big E had split from the group, the three, in addition to continuing their New Day Feel the Power podcast, also claimed that Big E would continue to be part of The New Day, albeit separately from them on SmackDown, with WWE later stating on Twitter that there was "no break-up".[103]

Record-tying Raw Tag Team Champions (2020–present)[edit]

Upon Kingston and Woods's Raw debut on the October 12 episode of Raw, WWE official Adam Pearce had them trade titles with Raw Tag Team Champions The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford), who had just been drafted to SmackDown, in order to keep both championships on their respective brands. This made Kingston and Woods three-time Raw Tag Team Champions, marking their first time holding the title without Big E, and their first time winning it since their record 483-day reign in 2015–2016.[104] The New Day had their final match as a trio on the October 16 episode of SmackDown, defeating Cesaro, Nakamura, and Sheamus.[105] The New Day appeared one further time as a trio at Survivor Series on November 22 to promote their appearance in the video game Gears 5. At the event, the trio made their entrance dressed as their respective characters in the game. After the entrance and a brief in-ring promo, Big E departed backstage while Kingston and Woods faced SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Street Profits in a non-title brand supremacy match. New Day lost the match but showed mutual respect to The Street Profits.[106] On December 20, at TLC, Kingston and Woods lost the Raw Tag Team Championship to The Hurt Business (Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin).[107]

They regained the championship on the March 15 episode of Raw, tying Cesaro and Sheamus for the most reigns as a team at four, while indiviudally, Kingston tied Seth Rollins for the most reigns at six. They were then scheduled to defend the titles against AJ Styles and Omos at WrestleMania 37.[108]

Characters and reception[edit]

Original gimmick[edit]

The original gimmick of the three, before they took on the name The New Day, was born from Woods's promo in July 2014 in which he suggested to create the stable, and stated: "You cannot move ahead by shaking hands, kissing babies, singing and dancing like a puppet. You cannot move ahead by always doing what you're told. It is our time to find purpose, because we do not ask any longer. Now, we take."[18][109] They were depicted as determined, strong-willed athletes with newfound motivation, describing themselves as "smart athletic friends" and establishing themselves as underrated undergods, criticizing "the powers that be" for not giving them a fair chance; however, they were taken off-television shortly after their debut.[109]

Woods described the trio's original characters as "Three guys, who come up from kind of the same background, that just want more from life, more from their jobs, more from their friends, more from everything around them. [...] So we tried to take that mentality, and get it across on TV as best as we could."[14]

In late 2014 between their original gimmick and gospel eras, the trio, having been taken off-television and having been told by WWE creative that they needed their characters to be more positive and uplifting, spent months meeting during their free time to work on new ideas, writing and filming vignettes that they would try to get Vince McMahon to watch while also communicating remotely to share more costume and gimmick ideas.[110][24] They came up with a "Problem Solvers" gimmick, which Kingston described in 2015 as "a funny version of the APA, [people] would come to us with their problems and we'd solve them in like, a comical way." According to the trio, "Everyone that saw it was like, blown away by it, they thought it was awesome, it was funny, it made sense, you could see where it would fit in on the show." However, McMahon was unenthusiastic, and the gimmick was discarded.[110] While The New Day recognize this period as frustrating, Woods also considered it instrumental in the three of them developing chemistry and a true friendship, with Woods stating: I don't think that [without that period] the bond would be as strong, or that the [eventual "power of positivity"] gimmick would work as well."[111]

Gospel era[edit]

The trio debuted as The New Day in November 2014, now stereotypical black gospel preacher-like characters. In an off-character interview in August 2015, The New Day called their gospel era "the complete opposite of what we wanted to do", and claimed that the gimmick had been created by WWE CEO Vince McMahon, who summoned the trio to his office and announced that he had designed their new characters, stating: "It's taken me a long time to come up with this, but I think I got it: I want you guys to be preachers." The trio added: "We didn't want to sing and dance, because for African-American athletes, you're either singing and dancing, or you're the big strong black guy, or the foreign black guy. Those are the three archetypes. [We wanted] to push some sort of message for all kids, but more specifically for young, black kids watching wrestling: you can be whatever kind of character you want, you come with a blank slate and you can be anything, not just [black stereotypes.] We can't describe to you the tension [in the room when he gave us the characters]. We're all like, smiling and nodding and all of us were thinking the same thing: 'Oh my God, this man is crazy.'"[112]

The trio claim that they were given an "awful" list of team names to choose from, which included "Fresh Coat of Paint", HOPE (standing for "House Of Positive Energy"), "A House of Light", and "KBX" (for "Kingston, Big, Xavier").[24] Kingston called the entrance theme they were originally offered "the worst gospel [song]", with Big E stating "It felt very old-timey, it felt like it was recorded in the 40s." The three gave WWE officials modern gospel music to suggest something more modern, resulting in the theme song eventually used by the group.[24]

Those characters received negative reactions from fans and critics alike. Jim Ross noted that "today's wrestling fan may be a little hard on the talented trio" due to them "espousing such positivity".[113] ProWrestling.net wrote that The New Day "seem to be all about smiling and dancing; one of the three racial stereotypes WWE assigns to their African-American performers".[3] Entertainment website The A.V. Club called the gimmick "racist" because "they figuratively pantomime shooting dice when they get into the ring".[114] Vice stated "Months after rejecting the stereotypical roles bestowed on black wrestlers [during Woods's original July 2014 promo], Woods, Kingston, and Big E found themselves saddled with a new one"; they pointed out that both Kingston and Woods had already been given stereotypical characters, with Kingston previously portraying "an all-smiles, erstwhile Jamaican babyface" even though he was from Ghana, while Woods was given a "funk-dancing gimmick" character.[109]

While two members of The New Day would wrestle, the one acting as their manager would regularly clap into his hands or slam his hands into the mat following a three-clap pattern, inviting the audience to follow suit; the idea originated from Woods, who felt that they needed a unique clap to differentiate themselves.[24] Although fans were somewhat enthusiastic to the clapping during the first months, and on the March 30, 2015 episode of Raw (the day after WrestleMania 31), the audience, while clapping, loudly chanted "New Day sucks!" in rhythm with the clapping, and, when the three would chant "New Day!" loudly as part of their gimmick, the live audiences would scream "sucks!" in response, otherwise heavily booing the trio; similar reactions occurred during the following weeks, until the group turned heel.[111][32][33][34]

The New Day claimed that they immediately knew that the gimmick would never go over, and that a heel-turn was needed, with Woods stating: "When we were given the gimmick and saw what it was, we figured, if we throw everything that we can—smiling, clapping, happiness, everything—into this babyface gimmick, it will not take long to turn heel. And it's pretty much what happened."[109][115] The three asked to be turned heel for months, but it was only approved after fans reactions got more hostile in the wake of WrestleMania 31 that WWE agreed; according to the trio, McMahon had remained convinced up until that point that the gimmick would be very popular with the fans.[115]

"Power of positivity" heels[edit]

After the largely negative reception to the gospel version of The New Day, the characters became heels in the wake of WrestleMania 31. The characters first transitioned into an "oblivious bad guys" satire version of their previous gimmick, overly joyous and seemingly unaware of the booing from the fans; they would also start cheating during their matches, but claim that they were justified in doing so.[34] additionally, the trio became fanatically obsessed with the "power of positivity", which they try to would preach to their audiences. They would occasionally tease self-awareness, with Woods claiming during a promo: "We gotta smile, we gotta keep positive, because if not, the rage comes out. And if the rage comes out, everybody on the roster goes to the hospital", and Big E adding "We clap, or we snap."[109] At first no one knew what they were supposed to be.

In the months following their heel-turn, The New Day transitioned away from the gospel aspect, developing their own unique identity and focusing on their new "Power of positivity" gimmick.[116][117][118][109] They also begun using New Day props, such as Woods's trombone, which he brought to the ring and played during the group's entrance and matches, later naming the trombone Francesca; after "she" was destroyed by Chris Jericho, Woods replaced her with her "sister" Francesca II in January 2016; he also introduced her "Scottish cousin" Agnes (bagpipes) at a Scotland show in November 2016.[109][119] Following Francesca II's destruction, she was replaced by Francesca II: Turbo, a nod to Street Fighter II: Turbo. Also in late 2015, a unicorn pony was incorporated into The New Day's newest shirt,[120] and the trio began making unicorn gestures, using their fingers as horns and even having interviewers claiming to perceive them having "unicorn magic".[121] The group eventually began wearing plastic unicorn horns during their ring entrance, and using a team signature move named Unicorn Stampede;[109][122] this was based on Woods being a fan of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.[123] Also in 2015, The New Day began using the word "booty" as their catchphrase and began occasionally using it to tease other wrestlers and the host city where WWE events would take place, such as calling Birmingham "Bootyham". The trio became heavily promo-oriented, and would usually cut promos while on their way to the ring (instead of a regular entrance where their theme would play instead).[13]

In stark contrast to the gospel-based version of The New Day, their "Power of positivity" version received an overwhelmingly positive reception from fans and critics and had a series of strong in-ring performances and promos. Although they were heels, the crowds would now start chanting "New Day rocks!" as the group had encouraged them to do as babyfaces, instead of "New Day sucks!"[109] Kenny Herzog of Rolling Stone named the group as WWE's "Wrestlers of the Year" for 2015, describing them as "a hat-trick of pro-wrestling awesomeness" having "transformed from preachy dreck to a source of constant entertainment".[1] In early 2016, Aaron Oster of The Baltimore Sun described them as "the most entertaining wrestling act of the past few years".[124] Former WWE Champion CM Punk praised The New Day for getting over on their own, and claimed that although he no longer watched WWE-based product, and had also lost his passion for wrestling overall, he would only watch The New Day's segments.[125] At the end of 2015, the group won Pro Wrestling Illustrateds award for Tag Team of the Year, and the Wrestling Observer Newsletter's award for Best Gimmick.[126][127][128] Rolling Stone named The New Day collectively as the WWE Wrestler of the Year, stating that "what New Day's three talents accomplished together in 2015 represented – appropriately enough – a hat-trick of pro-wrestling awesomeness: pulling themselves out from creative quicksand, standing alone as the elite among their peers and daring us not to tune in no matter what the win-loss implications."[129]

However, some believed that the group's popularity was detrimental to their efficiency as heels, with both Jim Ross and Jason Powell from ProWrestling.net suggesting that The New Day should be trying to gain "heel heat" as opposed to being comedic, and in January 2016, following the Royal Rumble, James Caldwell of PWtorch noted that the group's babyface opponents came out "mainly to boos since New Day was too entertaining", adding that the group "don't act overly-heelish to get heat. So, their opponents continue to suffer opposite New Day".[130]

"Power of positivity" babyfaces[edit]

Xavier Woods' trombone "Francesca", "Booty-O's" cereals, and unicorn horns (all three appearing here on Woods) are an integral part of The New Day's gimmick

The trio's popularity led to them reverting to babyfaces in early 2016 when they began feuding with the League of Nations.[48] Unlike the stable's previous babyface run, this version, which retained the gimmick of their heel version without the cheating and aggressive attitude, proved successful and popular with fans, and similarly won Pro Wrestling Illustrated's award for Tag Team of the Year for 2016.[127] In September 2017, Bleacher Report claimed that "there should not be any doubt that New Day has earned its spot among WWE's all-time greatest tag teams [...] They won over the audience with their eccentric antics and became one of the most entertaining acts WWE had seen in years. Not only have they brought tag team wrestling into the mainstream with their immense popularity, they have had their fair share of exceptional matches as well."[131] The same year, GQ stated: "In three short years, the New Day has become the bridge between two formerly isolated worlds. They are the purveyors of positivity in a year that sorely needs it. They are perhaps the most enlightened entertainers to ever step foot in a wrestling ring."[13]

The New Day's promos would often contain a number of references to pop culture or recent events in the world; Woods stated that "Nine times out of ten, the stuff we’re saying in our promos is just stuff that we say in the car to each other. Whatever is popping us in the car that weekend, we reference that. [...] Rather than trying to hit the masses with what we were saying, we were hitting a little pocket every week because we’re very into the grassroots type of thing."[13] Those would sometimes tackle controversial subjects, such as the Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, or the longstanding race issues within WWE.[13][132]

The New Day's 2017-2018 feud with The Usos over the SmackDown Tag Team Championship was acclaimed by both critics and fans, with Bleacher Report crediting it for "[helping] elevate tag team wrestling in WWE to heights that hadn't been reached in years through its stellar series of matches on pay-per-view and on SmackDown Live."[133][134][135][136] Despite praising "the Match of the Year-quality encounters the tandems were having at every pay-per-view on which they appeared", they also worried that the SmackDown creative team had also become overly reliant on the two and was dismissing all other teams.[137][131]

In 2016, The New Day introduced their "Booty-O's" cereal, claiming that "They make sure you ain't booty".[109] At WrestleMania 32, the team emerged from a giant "Booty-O's" box wearing Dragon Ball Z-inspired armor (inherited from Woods's earlier gimmick). Later "Booty-O's" shirts became a successful article of merchandise. In early 2018, they replaced "Booty-O's" cereals with pancakes, passing it to members of the audience, throwing it to their enemies or eating it. Woods claimed the idea came from discussing the idea of a lumberjack match: "I said, 'Well, if I’m a lumberjack, what do they eat? They eat flapjacks.' It was hilarious. So, we said the next week, 'Are we going to do pancakes? Yeah, sure. Why not?' And that’s where the pancakes came from."[138] They were also the official hosts of WrestleMania 33.[139][140]

Black Lives Matter support[edit]

On June 12, 2020 episode of SmackDown, Big E and Kingston (acting as a duo because Woods was injured), then SmackDown Tag Team Champions, both took a knee and raised a fist in the air, in homage to George Floyd, whose killing the previous month had raised worldwide protests against racial injustice; they also wore armbands not usually part of their wrestling attires, on which were written names of other individuals whose deaths were due to racial injustice: Shukri Abdi on Big E's, and Tamla Horsford and Breonna Taylor on Kingston's.[15][141] The gesture was praised within the wrestling community and by media outlets, with Sports Illustrated calling it "a pivotal moment", Essentially Sports calling it "a huge statement" and Forbes stated: "With WWE the only live event promotion that has remained intact throughout the pandemic, the powerful message by Kofi Kingston and Big E figure to be part of a new normal once American sports are reopened as the current climate now demands more action to be taken in the still-harrowing fight against racial injustice."[141][142][15] Big E stated the following August that the moment "was important to us", stating: "It was something that really weighed on us, and we felt like we really needed to make a statement. [...] 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."[15] Just three days prior to Big E and Kingston's kneeling on SmackDown, the two and Woods opened up about their personal experiences with racism and their thoughts on Floyd's killing on The New Day's podcast Feel the Power.[143][141][142]

Other media[edit]

The New Day wrote their first book titled The Book of Booty: Shake It. Love It. Never Be It. The New Day also had a cameo role in the 2016 WWE Studios film Countdown.

Although all three of them had previously been featured in official WWE video games, the members of The New Day were featured as squadmates for the first time in the video game WWE 2K16, and have further appeared as a team in WWE 2K17, WWE 2K18, WWE 2K19 and WWE 2K20.

In 2017, The New Day also made an appearance on the TruTV comedy series Adam Ruins Everything.[144]

Corey Graves announced on his podcast, WWE After the Bell, that The New Day would launch their own new podcast (produced by WWE and Endeavor Audio) titled The New Day: Feel the Power, which premiered on December 2, 2019.

In November 2020, all three members of The New Day were added as playable DLC characters in the video game Gears 5, sporting custom armor in the colors of The New Day's ring attires; the three recorded dialogue specifically for the game. As promotion for this DLC at WWE's Survivor Series pay-per-view that same month, the trio appeared in their Gears 5 armor.[145]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

The New Day are four-time and longest reigning Raw Tag Team Champions at 483 days for their second reign, as well as having the longest combined reign at 627 days; during their first two reigns, Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods were all recognized as champion under the Freebird Rule, but now only Kingston and Woods are recognized as Big E was split from the team in the 2020 WWE Draft

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ New Day held the record until January 30, 2021, when they were surpassed by the NXT UK Tag Team Champions Gallus (Mark Coffey and Wolfgang), who then set a new record of 497 days.
  2. ^ NXT United Kingdom Champion Walter's ongoing reign, which is at 765+ days, is now the longest WWE championship reign since 1988.
  3. ^ During their first reign, the championship was called the WWE Tag Team Championship, but midway through their second reign, it was renamed to Raw Tag Team Championship following the 2016 brand split. This made New Day the first team to hold the title under its current name (due to the Chris Benoit double-murder and suicide, WWE often starts with New Day's second reign when speaking of previous teams who have held the "Raw Tag Team Championship," although the official title history on their website does extend all the way back to the inaugural reign of Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle but with no match description, as is the case for all titles Benoit held in WWE). Prior to October 2020, all three members of New Day were recognized as champions under the Freebird Rule.
  4. ^ During their first two reigns, Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods were all recognized as champions under the Freebird rule; however, only Kingston and Woods are recognized as champion after October 2020, as during the 2020 WWE Draft, Kingston and Woods were drafted to Raw while Big E remained on SmackDown, splitting Big E from the team.
  5. ^ During their first six reigns, Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods were all recognized as champions under the Freebird rule; however, only Kingston and Woods were recognized as champion for the seventh reign as after Kingston and Woods won their seventh title, they were drafted to Raw while Big E remained on SmackDown, splitting Big E from the team.

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