A Drum Major For Justice: New Day Makes History Starring ROMAN REIGNS!
Some 500 days ago, what was once decried by several outlets, including this one as one of the most racist things to come out of WWE creative in some time debuted on WWE television. Staring a rebranded Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods and Big E Langston, The New Day existed as not only a caricature of the African American evangelical community, but as Black life as a whole.
Speaking in exaggerated minstrel tones, Big E served as a the mouth piece of the group, spouting the “power of positivity” as a means to success, all the while leapfrogging the line between cheap heat and poor taste. As such, this commentator once described The New Day as, “The most fucking racist thing I've seen in WWE in a decade.”
Yesterday, Monday December 12th, 2016, The New Day surpassed the record held by Demolition as the longest reigning Tag Team Champions in history. They did so in spectacular fashion, defending the belt not just in one amazing triple threat matches, but two. Never before in the history of WWE has a team risen from such a crippling gimmick and ascended to the stars as one of the best tag teams in history.
While the journey is dotted with missteps and false starts, it's important to remember just how tragically bad the gimmick resonated with the WWE Universe. Their origins as black gospel singers still fresh in the minds of the crowd, “New Day Sucks,” chants were becoming the norm, ringing throughout the arena as though Roman Reigns or John Cena had just entered the ring. Many forget the origins of “New Day Rocks!” are not near as cheery as Michael Cole would have you remember.
Before beginning their historic reign as Tag Team Champions, The New Day were likely the most hated members of the WWE roster. Xavier Woods' trombone was replaced with the motion of shooting dice. Thankfully, the WWE Universe rejected the dish served to them in the form of The New Day and booed them out of nearly every building they entered.
Despite the obvious racial undertones and nearly universal hatred from the audience, both live and seemingly at home, The New Day soldiered on. Continuing the stable through a somewhat irrelevant heel turn and a much needed gimmick change in the middle of 2015. Gone were the chanting gospel singers and racially motivated promos. In their place were brightly colored singlets and trombones.
Although now firmly heels, the crowd was captivated by their in-ring antics and rambling promo works. Around mid to late 2015, many staples of modern The New Day gimmick emerged. As other tag teams were given the moniker of “Booty,” Xavier Woods himself was experiencing a bit of a career resurgence as his hit show, Up Up Down Down was gaining mainstream success after a shaky start in the crowded field of the “Let's Play” YouTube genre.
As Woods gained mainstream acceptance and the crowd's demeanor towards the group warming, The New Day began to naturally gravitate towards the light side of the Force. With it came, not only the WWE Tag Team Championships, but wins... lots and lots of them.
2015 would come to a close and along with it came a shower of accolades from the media and the WWE universe. Rolling Stone named The New Day the 2015 Wrestlers of the Year and Pro Wrestling Illustrated deemed The New Day as the Best Gimmick. While the awards poured in, the trio was still far away from shattering the record.
Last year proved to be the transitionally year for The New Day, but last night's Monday Night Raw was the crux of every opportunity The New Day had created for themselves. Monday represented every piss poor booking decision and attempt to derail the trio down the Hell that is “Gimmick Alley”, and The New Day clawing and creating their own destiny on their journey to immortality.
The New Day had won the titles, albeit in somewhat confusing and sloppy fashion. The New Day retired to the locker room to celebrate with friends and colleagues, included Monday Night Raw Commissioner, Stephanie McMahon. As the New Day celebrated, McMahon was soaked with Champagne, sending her off screen in a huff... Enter Kevin Owens.
Kevin Owens descended on McMahon to convince her to pit The New Day in one final triple threat match for the Tag Team Championships against him and former best friend, Chris Jericho. This was all in an attempt to win back the love and admiration of Jericho. The New Day's ascent to 479 should have been a feat defined by years of overcoming hardships and a celebration of in ring prowess. Instead, The New Day overtook a record set by one of the most dominate and iconic tag teams in history defined by the Boss's daughter getting wet.
Thankfully, the match in which The New Day made history was no where near as in consequential as the circumstances around it. Featuring a performance that shined the spotlight brighter on Woods than it ever had before, the match was worthy of the historic ramifications a victory meant. However, thanks to WWE Creative, the night was not defined by three minority performers overcoming racism and making history. Rather, the spotlight was focused squarely on Roman Reigns.
Roman Reigns was the wrestler who closed the show to the audience, boos reigning ( :D ) from the rafters as the sight of him spearing Kevin Owens became apparent. To the audience at home, their screens filled with sight of Reigns standing over a vanquished Owens, both the United States Heavyweight Championship and the WWE Universal Heavyweight Championship in hand. The New Day was all but forgotten as the camera faded to black, Reigns portrayed as a monster looming over the city he was preparing to destroy.
This heartbreaking reality though is the current status of the WWE. All roads to glory not only ultimately go through Roman Reigns... they lead to Roman Reigns. If WWE is willing to use the achievement of three Black wrestlers who got themselves over in the most remarkable way possible to propel one of the most disliked wrestlers of the past decade into prominence, then the prospects of individual success in the WWE have all but died.
Ultimately, The New Day will lose the titles, and they will lose them sooner than you'd like to think. New Day will suffer the same fate as nearly every tag team stable and split, adding three more performers to an already bloated midcard. Ultimately as the end of Monday Night Raw proved, it may have been all for nothing. No balloons fell for The New Day. No confetti filled the arena as fireworks exploded to the delight of roaring fans. In the end, this was all for nothing.
I, like most of the WWE universe wanted to cheer for The New Day and celebrate their achievement, but instead of a show that closed with roaring applause, I was left with a three hour program that closed with a cacophony of boos. Last night wasn't a validation of The New Day nor was it a celebration and “thank you” for the fans that have supported them and forced WWE to change course on a dangerous and offensive gimmick. Last night was every other episode of Monday Night Raw for the past two years... Monday Night Raw and The New Day's victory exists solely for one man...
I've never been more embarrassed to be a wrestling fan.