This past summer, Xavier Woods - who up to that point had been R-Truth's dancing buddy, and the jive-turkey who stole the Funkadactyls from Brodus Clay along with his theme song - suddenly showed up on Raw dressed in a suit. He was there to talk to another pair of prominent African-American wrestlers, former Intercontinental champs Big E and Kofi Kingston, who had just lost a tag match to Rybaxel.
Fans immediately started tweeting about a new Nation of Domination, and it was easy to see why. Not only were all three men black, but Woods had some aggressive words to go with his new look. "You can't move ahead doing what you're told," he said.
The trio appeared on Main Event and...disappeared.
Last night, Woods was back - not on Raw proper, but in a pre-tape video package shown during the show. That video is above. Some have talked about it being a preacher gimmick. The women singing him along in choir robes give that impression, and there may be some element of that to the "character", but it's also very clearly influenced by the Godfather of Soul. Right down to the catchphrase/name of the video:
It's too early to complete judge this newest repackaging of the man who was TNA's Consequences Creed. I wouldn't be surprised if it was a totally offensive stereotype, or if we never saw this version of Woods again.
But wouldn't it be nice if this was an inspired bit of silliness, playing off audience expectations for WWE to do little more than racial caricature and the success they've had by giving a talented guy like Damien Sandow some leeway to commit to something different?
That would fit right into Smackdown Theater and similar videos Woods, E and Kofi have been posting on social media and WWE's YouTube channel. There, the guys have shown distinct comedic personalities. Xavier is the over-the-top jokester. Big is just as goofy, but does it in a deadpan style. Kingston is the straight man.
Is it too much to hope that the "New Day" is the Smart Athletic Friends getting to do schtick that isn't based on the color of their skin?
Keep hope alive, Cagesiders.