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Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, Big E tell story of how The New Day came to be

If you've ever wondered how it was that Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, and Big E came together to create The New Day, one of the hottest heel tag team acts on the WWE roster right now, the three joined Chris Jericho on the latest episode of his Talk is Jericho podcast to tell the tale.

Listen here:

Read (most of the talk) here:

Xavier Woods: "I debuted and wasn't really doing anything. So I kind of had an idea because Rusev was beating the hell out of all of us, so I... at NXT like six TVs straight he was beating the hell out of me, I came up to the main roster, then Rusev came up chasing me and beating me up here. Rusev's got it. But I had an idea... ... a character that I've wanted to do for a while is just this snarky, intelligent, running his mouth, just the total like punk kind of character because I feel like I can fit into it real well because in my real life I'm getting my PhD. ... So I'm working on that character trying to get something going and then I'm kind of realizing like 'oh, E's not doing anything, he's coming off his Intercontinental title reign and kind of starting to float.' So I was like, you know what, I like E, he's one of my good friends, let's see if we can merge him into this. So we kind of started working on something. Literally like weeks at a time we were going into pre-tapes filming things, pitching ideas. And then we were thinking like there's something that's missing from this, we need one more thing. That's when we kind of thought 'maybe Kofi.' But it was kind of a heel thing and we were thinking 'Kofi's never been a heel, I don't know if they would let him turn heel.' So after talking about it for a while we kind of approached them with what we wanted to do and rather than being this group that everyone thought it was going to be, just three angry black guys, it's like, no, it's three guys who have come up from the same background who 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 we could.

Kofi Kingston: "And we did! For about two weeks, we did."

Chris Jericho: "So what happened?"

Kingston: "We got taken off. We got on and everyone thought we were going to be like the second coming of the Nation 'You guys are the New Nation of Domination...'"

Jericho: "Because you've got three black guys so automatically that's what they were going to think."

Kingston: "Exactly."

Woods: "Because they don't think that when it's like 'Oh, The Wyatts, it's three white guys, they're like the Godwinns!' It's like, no, which is awkward."

Kingston: "So, yeah, man, it got taken off and we basically had to reevaluate and come up with something different. We were told that we needed to go in like a positive, uplifting type direction and we would be going into Vince's office pretty much every week for, god, probably like months. It's funny because like when Vince did that podcast about like all the milennials and everyone was getting up in arms and people not grabbing the brass ring, he wasn't talking to us because we were definitely in there like every single week for like three months trying to get this thing off the ground. ... So, yeah, man, it was crazy because we kept going in there and it was kind of frustrating because we weren't getting results. We had several different incarnations of this idea, to the point where we taped our own, like, video basically, a little vignette that we showed Vince and everything."

Jericho: "So what did you guys, like, you went to... you got together on your own time?"

Kingston: "Yes, right before a house show. We got there early and literally taped, it was almost like an infomercial, it was like basically called the problem solvers. It was kind of like just a funny version of the APA where people would come to us with their problems and we would solve them in a funny way. We came up with this like awesome video and everyone that saw it was blown away by it, they thought it was awesome, and we thought that this was it. It was funny, made sense, and you could see where it would fit in on the show. Then we showed Vince and he kind of chuckled and then it didn't happen. So we kind of got frustrated too and we didn't go in to his office for a little while and then he called us back in a few weeks later and he was like 'you know, guys, it's taken me a long time to come up with this but I think I've got it. I want you guys to be preachers.' And all three of us were just like 'oh my god.' For me, I've been to church like, what, two times in the past three years or whatever?"

Jericho: "I'm envisioning like James Brown and the Blues Brothers. You (Big E) were kind of doing that."

Big E: "Right. This is kind of my fault, actually. Honestly, so I take some blame. We were essentially, what we were just talking about, we got to a point where I was floating. I think the night I dropped the title to Bad News they had me rush to pre-tapes and we worked on a bunch of different deliveries. Essentially the message was 'we kind of like you but we have nothing for you so you better come up with something quickly.' So we worked on a bunch of deliveries and what not. I grew up in the church, my dad's a preacher, I did some preaching myself for a little bit. ... I did it when I was a teenager at the time when I was still living with my parents and still in school. ... So essentially we worked on some different deliveries and I had always, just because I didn't want to go the route of using the preacher stuff or going that route, just because I didn't want to do anything that was sacreligious or I felt crossed a line. But I just kind of figured if there's a way to do it using a cadence and not necessarily having to talk about god or the devil or these heavy weighty things. So we went from there. Road Dogg was in the room, he liked it enough to talk to Vince about it, and we did some stuff that Vince saw. So he saw the preacher voice, I actually think the first time we did it I think I was still in the program with Rusev and I randomly come out (with it). So I use my normal speaking voice for about a year and a half of being on the road and then I'm randomly preaching about 'America and what this country needs and they don't need Rusev and people like him they need good people like you in the crowd.' Just super 80s, like cheesy. ... It's just really mastering a cadence. So we kind of went from there, did that for a few weeks, then I was done with Rusev. I really thought it was awkward because I'm doing this preacher cadence out of nowhere with no explanation and I felt like it needed a home. So when I talked to Woods and heard about his idea I was like 'this makes sense for us to do it within the confines of the group.' We had a different idea but then when Vince talked to us about the three of us being preachers..."

Woods: "Well, when he says that, I just want to back up. When we first talked to Vince, the very first time, which I don't know if people have met him, you always hear these horror stories that he's so intimidating and just like this mountain of a man and it's like, he's just a grown man. You just talk to him like a grown man."

Jericho: "I think a lot of it is just like the intimidation factor and the reputation, the fact that he's Vince McMahon. Once you get over that, he wants to hear your ideas as much as anything else."

Woods: "Yeah. The first time we went in we had Kofi and we're like 'okay, he knows you the best.' I'm still like eight, nine months on the road and I'm like 'okay, we gotta talk to Vince.'"

Jericho: "He's not quite sure what your name is."

Woods: "Yeah! He called me 'Zeke' for a while. For a while I was Zeke. I have no idea why. No clue! ... After the first meeting everything was fine but we told him, he was like 'how do you guys see this?' We were like 'well, we don't want to sing and dance because we feel like for African-American athletes you're either singing and dancing, or you're the big strong black guy, or you're the foreign black guy, and those are the three archetypes."

Jericho: "What would be the foreign black guy?"

Woods: "Kofi was Jamacian."

Jericho: "Or Kamala."

Woods: "Yeah, yeah. So we were like 'we want to push some sort of message for all kids but more specifically young black kids watching wrestling that you can be whatever kind of character you want. You come with a blank slate and you can be anything, not just these three things. So then when we got to this part about being preachers, we were just like..."

Kingston: "We can't describe to you the tension. Because you're supposed to like... you can't sell it, you know what I'm saying? None of us were going to get up and go 'this is bull' and be all pissed about it. We all were just smiling and nodding and all of us were all thinking the same thing like 'oh my god, this man is crazy."

Jericho: "(He) found another black stereotype. There's a great story Ron Simmons will tell when they gave him the Farrooq gimmick and Vince was like 'I want you to be an Egyptian warrior' and put the helmet on the desk and Ron started laughing like 'hahaha.' And (Vince) is like 'no, I'm serious, I really want you to do this.' And Ron was like 'I love it, Vince.' He's like 'is this guy serious? Oh, I better like it or else, right?'"

Kingston: "Yeah, man, and it was just crazy. We walked out of that room and we had no idea, like, it was the complete opposite of what we wanted to do. You know, he wanted us to be like clapping. And me going back to like the church and everything, when I do go back to church it's like the white Catholic church, it's not like Baptist style. ... So this was like completely out of my comfort zone. But you're given a task and you do the best with it and I think that we did do pretty well with it. We talked about it and went over different... just kind of how we wanted to be and how we wanted to present ourselves. For the first like two months or so everyone seemed to be actually into it."

Jericho: "Cause this started out as a babyface gimmick."

Woods: "And our thing was, when he told us that, again, something else that we talked about was we told him many times 'if you just give the three of us something together to do, we will make it work. We all feel like our chemistry is that where give us something, we'll do it, and it will be freaking awesome.' So when he gave us this half of us were like 'is he just, is this a test for us since we came at him like that?'"

Jericho: "Which it could be. It very well could be because if you look at you three guys, Kofi, you've been here since about 2007 or 2006 maybe, always quality, everything that you're given you do great, you've had the main event greatest matches, you've worked dark matches, everything in between. Big E, big guy, personality, my favorite finish in the world to take, it's like jumping in and out of a soft bed, it's like a big pillow, I used to look forward to it every night. And then Woods, you're fairly new but you're obviously very well spoken, you've got a great promo voice and all that sort of thing. So you guys are, and Vince will know he's got three diamonds, but as you know Kofi it's up and down around here. I think one of the craziest things ever was when you put (Randy) Orton through the table at Madison Square Garden."

Kingston: "Yeah, man, it was good times. And then I think it was the next week I didn't do anything."


Jericho: "So when you guys finally put this together, and you mentioned you were on the show for a bit and then off for a long time, because I would see you guys for months going over stuff and meeting with the writers and working on things. Was it kind of frustrating to like 'not this week, maybe next week?'"

Woods: "Yes and no, just because that's where a lot of our bonding came from, just kind of being mad and stewing and trying to figure something out. So that getting to where we are now I don't think it would be as fun or the bond would be as strong or that the gimmick would work as well if they would have just come out and been like 'oh, this week, fine' and cool. Because that kind of waiting and being on our toes and maybe getting in gear and maybe not like 'oh go talk to this writer, go talk to Vince,' like that kind of hectic scenario cultivated what you see right now. So I think that it gets frustrating but also had a very good purpose."

Big E: "I agree to that point as well. I think something that a lot of people don't know is we spent a few months before we even, before we had the vignettes or the start of the first time you see the three of us on TV, we had a few months where we were just working house shows collectively and they were still letting us do this weird three man group that's only in tags. So we were getting experience, we were traveling together. We've been traveling together now week to week for, I don't know, we're getting close to a year, probably nine or 10 months, and I think for us we thought this idea, the original incarnation, the babyface idea from Vince, is going to be very difficult to make good. But the selling point is the chemistry between the three of us. And I think a lot of times you can just tell when three guys are put together and the fact that we're three guys who wanted to be together and we felt like we had skills that complimented each other and actually are friends in real life, I like that definitely helped. Our big thing is the idea might suck but I think people will see the comraderie. I didn't say it did, I said it might!"


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