There are a lot of things to celebrate about the end of Sept. 14’s Raw.
From Big E becoming the fourth Black man to hold the WWE title, to WWE delivering on a crowd-pleasing promise instead of making us “wait and see”, last night was a celebration of things that make so many of us love pro wrestling/sports entertainment.
Probably my favorite part, though? Big E did it his way.
Aside from his initial Intercontinental run, Big E had been part of team or group for most of his post-NXT career. He started a singles run when his partners were injured, and when The New Day were split in last year’s Draft, it seemed like he might actually get a push to go along with it. Fans were excited to see what the charismatic, agile powerhouse could do as a solo act now that his history-making time with Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods had established him as a popular star.
But just as some of the audience was expressing that excitement, some others were expressing concern. If our guy Large Epsilon was going to be a credible threat, they said, he’d have to get serious. No more gyrating, and funny faces. The preacher delivery should only come out for fire-and-brimstone promos, nothing quirky or risqué.
It became a whole thing, something E had to address in shoot and kayfabe interviews.
To his credit, he always said he could succeed at the highest levels the same way he succeeded on his way to them. When we got “Big E, WWE or Universal champ”, it would be the same sweet, silly, borderline inappropriate kid-in-a-meaty-man’s body. He’d proved on several occasions with New Day that he could throw the switch and get serious. He proved it again over the past year without Kofi & Woods.
Last night in TD Garden, he proved he could be a goofball and a main eventer. Leading up the cash-in he promised, E was his usual mischievous. He made faces at Bobby Lashley, MVP, Randy Orton & Riddle. He jumped up on the announce table. There was a New Day reunion that was both light-hearted and meaningful. Then when the show was drawing to close, he got serious. A Big Ending won one of the business’ biggest belts. E then went backstage and got emotional, before heading to a photo shoot to ham it up a little more.
This was exactly how people who’ve followed his career over the decade wanted to see him win the big one, and Big E didn’t know any other way to do it.
Of all the things to love about E’s championship journey, that he stayed true to himself may be the most important one.