Try as hard as WWE might to get The League of Nations, whatever Roman Reigns and friends are supposed to be, or the countless other attempts at building groups of relevance, none of them are on the level of the New Day. A trio of guys who are easily WWE’s most over faction — and, honestly, it isn’t all that close.
The story is well known by now. Kofi Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods formed a group that was meant to originally be some sort of super happy, even faith-based group. It didn’t go over so well in the first few months, either. However, after the trio did a wee-bit of tinkering to how they approached the gimmick, New Day began to resonate with fans.
It is their combination of random — albeit it, sometimes obscure — pop-culture references, ability to play the crowd as if they were a Woods’ trumpet and in-ring abilities that have made them legitimate players of consequence in the world of professional wrestling. This, after attempts of getting Big E and Kofi over in other ways failed. It mostly boiled down to WWE’s allowance of the group to be themselves which has resulted in their popularity.
That said, even after giving WWE some credit for letting them take the gimmick in a slightly different direction, the creative team needs to do more for them. Especially if they want to maximize the group’s potential. And by doing more, I mean they need to completely remove themselves from the situation, allowing New Day to thrive as full-fledged babyfaces.
Here is the thing: New Day happens to be a group that is supposed to be heels. You know, the bad guys. This is despite the fact that most crowds are popping for them whenever they trot about the squared-circle. It is a problem, really. The New Day are too over to generate any legitimate heat for themselves. Basically, they are attempting to fight off the cheers by way of insulting the crowds each time they come out of the ramp.
It has worked, naturally. New Day is too talented for it not to. However, all of this seems to be a bit counterproductive. The crowd clearly wants to fully embrace, love and cheer the group. Why try so hard to make the fans hate a group they want to adore? It would be like purposely making your soulmate hate you by way of playing dumb, unfunny pranks on them regularly.
Comparisons would be early Stone Cold Steve Austin or NWO-version Scott Hall. The former was to be a heel, got over as a face organically, and the WWE allowed it to come to complete fruition by having Austin feud with the entire McMahon family. On the other hand, Hall was a legit bad guy. So bad, yet so cool, crowds cheered him. Whether or not WCW preferred him to, Hall embraced the crowd’s reactions by going as so far as placating them with his “Hey, yo” routine. Had either, especially Austin, gone the route of forcing their attempts of being a heel down everyone’s throat, then neither would have been as over as they were.
This is part of a larger, systematic issue within the WWE in general. The company far too often fights against organic crowd reactions. For every Cesaro, Zach Ryder, two different times Wade Barrett and others who fans decided to cheer for various reasons, there are the John Cena, Roman Reigns and Randy Orton types — guys the company wants you to love. So much so that the former group will suffer for it.
A good example being the Usos before Reigns was a hot commodity. A few years ago, as Cena continued to fail to find his footing among smart-marks, the WWE tried to utilize a plan they attempted often: They aligned Cena with the hottest, not-forced-down-people’s-throats act at the same, which was the Usos (it could be argued that the Usos are now the Cenas of the tag team division, though). This was after Cena buried Ryder’s organic push, ruined Cryme Tyme before that and countless other acts who the fans genuinely loved, but WWE forced to help enhance Cena’s image.
The WWE needs to listen to the fans. It isn’t all that hard. Especially for New Day, as the WWE is more invested in that group because it feel like — despite it likely not being as true as they think — it had a helping hand in creating them. It is part of the ego of the WWE management, who wants “its” guys to succeed over ones fans make.
It wouldn’t be that hard of a turn, either. No big push or angle has to be ran. All New Day would simply need to do is stop doing one thing outright… the bashing of the fans in whatever arena they are performing in. This simple, not at all contrived or lengthy task would help propel the New Day to other levels. Their merchandise would rival the company’s already established stars, fans would be able to fully embrace them as faces — eliminating those awkward moments when some hometown fans laugh at the jokes being told at their expense, and down the line one or more of the group could be made for a singles mega-push.
Heck, worst case scenario calls for them to never be anything more than a super-duper over faction. One which they can have face, whenever they pull the trigger on the reunion, The Shield at some point. And all the WWE has to do to see if it will work is try.
So try, WWE. Try your best. Be the little engine that could or whatever… likely whatever, but semantics are for losers and has never once been applied in the WWE.