Why WWE Was Right to Select The New Day as the Best Tag Team Ever

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJuly 3, 2021


WWE goes with the policy that any reaction is a good reaction—better than a silent live crowd, right?

But crowning the New Day as the best tag team ever to close out its recent WWE's 50 Greatest Tag Teams show wasn't just a way to drum up attention.

The trio of Big E, Xavier Woods and Kofi Kinston deserve it.

While it might seem like this is just a cheap way for WWE to prop up an active team, such an idea does a disservice to the journey—and the incredible staying power—of this legendary group.

New Day had some humble beginnings, to put it nicely. The trio linked up and showed up in some ho-hum church gospel-type promos to horrific fan response. Live crowds ripped into them. And fans as a whole pretty much agreed it was the wrong way to take the group, and it hurt the individual talents.

But from that beginning came magic. The three ran with it, playing off the crowd's reaction before finally getting to express those personalities that fans adore today. With it came the freedom to do what they wanted as a group and dominant success:

B/R Wrestling @BRWrestling

WWE ranks The New Day as the greatest tag team in history 🥞 11x tag team champions 🥞 7x SmackDown tag champs (record) 🥞 483 days as Raw tag champs (record) The Power of Positivity. https://t.co/i4mr3ScAo2

Still, even Big E knows not all fans were happy with New Day taking the first spot:

Ettore “Big E” Ewen @WWEBigE

I know many will disagree with the list but being named the greatest tag team of all time makes me reflect on our journey. I’m massively grateful for @TrueKofi & @AustinCreedWins. I’m thankful we bet on ourselves & were unafraid to pursue a path that felt right for us.

And look, it is a tough sell. Surpassing The Hardy Boyz (No. 2), Hart Foundation (No. 3) and any other legendary group throughout wrestling's history is nearly impossible to do.

But the surrounding context is so important. Not only did the three form a dynamite tag team that piled up all those accolades, but they also went off and helped one become a world champion—that's not something most tag teams, even on the top-50 list, can say.

Think about what they were before the group. Woods was the newcomer. Kingston was a borderline jobber and super-seller who did fun spots in Royal Rumbles. Big E was the massive, potential-laced guy who never realized it.

The group, despite its brutal start, morphed into something special. Perhaps more incredibly, they have never gotten stale. Not only are they wickedly entertaining (come on, even Old Day was funny), they worked as heels and faces. They have split off and had individuals go for solo titles and feuds but were never subjected to the terrible well now the whole group has to break up for no reason thing.

Also, notice how there are no real modern tag teams in the top 25 besides The Usos? That's another mark in New Day's column. Tag team wrestling, compared to the heyday of yesteryear, is a sour point for WWE programming, mostly because it's typically just the company throwing two random stars together and hoping it works. Only the best of the best can rise above that faceplant of a start (think a stable like The Shield, No. 22 on the list).

Like the original pitch, promos and reaction, New Day made something special from a negative in this regard too. Besides The Usos, fans would be hard-pressed to name an actual rival. Yet their feuds are always entertaining and in the spotlight, fans are always following along with their chants and things as silly as tossing around pancakes went over with crowds.

Don't forget this is the social media era too. All three leveraged it perfectly, utilizing various platforms—even streaming—to form a bond with fans that kept them in good graces. It helps they merely had to be themselves, of course. But good luck having, say, The Legion of Doom lean into and survive in this modern social media era, streaming like Woods does, for example.

And hey, maybe this always-on era is the only place New Day could have worked. But the fact that the act hasn't grown stale despite the oversaturation of endless WWE content that hurts other Superstars hasn't done the same to them is all the more impressive.

Plus the problem with onlookers who complain about a modern, active team getting the No. 1 spot is simple: People always complain about the nostalgia factor, the bringing back part-timers to headline shows and win titles. Well, here is WWE putting over a current group as the best ever, avoiding punching the nostalgia button yet again.

The fact that the only major thing New Day has working against it is that nostalgia factor says it all. Even taking away all the accolades, the trio broke down various barriers, promoted a kid-friendly, positive message with vibrancy and shared the accomplishments without turning on each other. The message is important, and it all happened during a brutal time for tag teams in an oversaturated era.

It will be interesting in a decade or so—or whenever their storied careers end—to see whether those who have complaints with New Day residing in the top spot do so then too. Because the still-growing list of accomplishments, surrounding context and message behind the group isn't going to suddenly diminish over time.

But maybe that's what is so great about this—New Day is still active and resetting the bar. And sometimes a list like this can help to readjust and remind fans that they are lucky enough to see greatness in real time, no matter how bold and goofy.