There's no denying it.
New Day does indeed rock.
There's straight up geology all over these three and both the dreaded internet wrestling community (IWC) and even the most mainstream of fans are eating up every bit of that Epsilon-Kofi-Xavier shtick.
One of the best things about the entirety of the grouping is that all three are immediately and consistently multi-faceted and sincerely hungry superstars. E has been a Twitter star for far longer than he's been an important part of the main roster. Kofi has been one of the most versatile, dependable performers in WWE for many years. Xavier is simply one of the nicest human beings I've ever met. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have gotten to work with the then Austin Creed on the Indies in South Carolina and Georgia. He's just a great guy. They all seem to be great guys.
But, there's one thing that worries me just a bit about the rise of The New Day as a unit, and it has nothing to do with any specific thing they're doing on camera or in their social media lives. It's simply that we recognize these guys are about to be enormous babyfaces, because they already are. The problem is this:
Why The New Day angle works is because they're the equivalent of the original comedic heel Kurt Angle or what would have happened if the Bo Dallas character had worked in WWE the way it did at times in NXT.
They're over and they're popular because they're heels, but they're not. They cheat, they're hypocrites, they're obnoxious from the celebrations to the dancing to E's intro to Xavier's trombone, but they're hilarious and they're full of life.
It works in reverse. When The New Day originally debuted as a fan favorite trio, they were vociferously and universally booed out of every arena in the country. I recall on my radio program having a discussion in early January of this year and stating point blank that WWE needed to turn them heel without changing who they were.
We hoped that it was the plan all along because it seemed to HAVE to be or it was the biggest miscalculation we'd seen in quite some time. The listeners agreed with our (and likely your) general consensus, and while our thought process was by no means unique, once WWE pulled the trigger, it worked to an enormous degree. It's still working hugely well, increasingly so as a matter of fact.
But, what happens when the company actually turns the New Day angle into a babyface proposition for the second time? We all love these guys, but how cool will it be when they're working within the rules and still being ridiculously over the top? Will what once was epic seem mundane and trite?
Think about Edge and Christian as an example. When were they at their absolute best as an entity? They peaked when they were heels, because the arrogance and the "please shut up" heat worked to help elevate the Hardy Boyz (who did a good bit of it on their own) and then later the Dudley Boyz and any number of other groups. Hell, Edge, Christian, and Kurt Angle worked Too Cool and Rikishi on the Judgment Day 2000 pay-per-view (PPV) and the match was over and it was excellent.
Flash photography? They were heels. All the posing? They were heels. The feces-eating grins? They were heels. It's arguable that the individual members of The New Day can play the hero side more believably than E&C, but it's certainly a question we can't answer definitively today.
So, if The New Day becomes a babyface team, what's the comparison?
One example might be the aforementioned Too Cool, but with far better workers and a stronger concept. Too Cool did the heel thing and then the dance moves got over and Rikishi helped push it over the top and the Worm became a thing and the rest was history.
The difference though was that Scotty 2 Hotty and Grandmaster Sexay hadn't played babyfaces within that structure before going the heel route. The wrestling universe knew those guys as antagonists, so when the fans began to dig what Too Cool was doing and how the gimmick was both approachable and fun, it worked.
Could that be the case for The New Day? Absolutely.
However, WWE has always had a knack for taking something organically popular and turning it into AstroTurf mediocrity. Mizdow was a great idea that became a less great idea when Michael Cole started laughing at it on commentary. The marks and the smarks love them some Xavier Woods on that trombone, but how long will it be acceptable in the fan brains that have been conditioned to think Cole and his crew are the epitome of lame once the commentators are laughing at the music? Once JBL says, "I love these guys. They're so fun to watch" and Byron Saxton is dancing alongside Xavier Woods, THAT might be the day the music dies. Or it may not. This isn't a conclusion; it's simply a question.
The New Day is uber-talented and have been the best pure entertainment we've seen in WWE this year. At Madison Square Garden next week, it seems likely they'll drop the titles to the Dudley Boyz to get the New York pop and also to showcase the potential for these special events to be important in terms of stakes and results.
At Hell in a Cell, they probably leave with the titles. There's no question these dudes are on fire and they're the belles of the ball unlike any rising megastar in 2015 this side of Amy Schumer.
But, we like them because we're in on the joke and the entire thing feels both novel and clever in addition to perfect in execution. Once the original joke isn't there anymore and E and Kofi (and occasionally Xavier) have ten year olds clapping at house shows, what's the reaction for the adults who all wish to believe these three are their little secret?
This angle was created for me. They belong to us. That's the thought we all have from time to time. Despite the talent, the Usos aren't…cutting edge. The New Day, if it's done incorrectly, could become more the pandering type rather than that kind we're over the moon for today. Perhaps not, but it's possible. We want them to be antiheroes. We don't want them tagging with John Cena.
They're cool right now. This juggernautish trinity of positivity is just freaking outstanding from the second we see them to the last moment before they head backstage or hop into the rental car on the way back to the hotel. I just wish they could stay as the pseudo-heels that defy description and are fun to watch be comic, tongue-in-cheek villains rather than the colorful, cheer for us guys that we rolled our eyes at back in December.
Once they can't cheat, how does the WWE Universe react? Or, do they keep cheating and become a true shade of grey for the long-term? They've got the talent to pull it off and it would be foolish to bet against them, but how can WWE keep the New Day in the current role when the fans are begging to cheer for them? None of us possesses that answer. Honestly, it's probably "they can't" or perhaps even "they shouldn't."
I just worry that once that trigger is pulled, if the shot is a little off target, it will be impossible to put that toothpaste back in the tube if the gimmick all of a sudden feels like John Tesh and not The Weeknd.