Big E Shoots on Money in the Bank Win, Cashing In, Representation in WWE, More

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistJuly 23, 2021

Big E Shoots on Money in the Bank Win, Cashing In, Representation in WWE, More

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    Big E has world championship gold in his sights following his huge WWE Money in the Bank victory.
    Big E has world championship gold in his sights following his huge WWE Money in the Bank victory.Credit: WWE.com

    Big E took his next step toward superstardom in WWE when he won the men's Money in the Bank ladder match last Sunday night, guaranteeing him a future shot at either the WWE or Universal Championship at any time of his choosing over the next year.

    His steady rise to the top has been one of the biggest highlights of WWE programming in 2021. It was almost one year ago that Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods gave him their blessing to branch off on his own; and to the company's credit, it has committed to his push and constantly kept him moving upward.

    From beating multiple main event players to defending the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania 37, no moment has meant more to his ascent than becoming Mr. Money in the Bank in front of a capacity crowd in Fort Worth, Texas.

    As well-received as that was, there's no telling how loud the reaction is going to be when he (hopefully) cashes in the contract successfully to win a world title.

    Who he'll cash in on is the question, as he has ready-made rivalries with both Roman Reigns and Bobby Lashley. He could also choose to hold onto the briefcase until the right opportunity presents itself.

    Fresh off his MITB victory, Big E spoke to Bleacher Report about The New Day's influence on his career, cashing in when the time is right, the importance of representation in wrestling, and more. Check out the complete audio of the interview on the next slide and read on for the highlights.

Why He Sees Money in the Bank Win as Another Accolade for The New Day

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    Big E's journey up the card in WWE over the years, including his recent rise in the singles ranks, has been well-documented. He's also been one of the most beloved and respected performers on the roster by both fans and peers for some time now, which made his Money in the Bank win that much more epic.

    He says the feedback to his huge victory has been nothing short of surreal and he's still letting it sink in. The only other night in his career that comes close in comparison is when he won the WWE Tag Team Championships with The New Day at SummerSlam in 2015 and kicked off their record-setting, yearlong reign.

    "That may have been one of the greatest nights of my career," he said about becoming Mr. Money in the Bank. "I almost don't want to say it because I have so much reverence for Kofi and Woods and what we've done together. I almost feel like saying that diminishes that, but to me, but it's still a New Day accomplishment because I don't think I would've gotten here without those guys and how much I was able to grow as a performer because of that run."

    The two-time intercontinental champion joined forces with Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods to form New Day in 2014. The trio have done it all as a unit, and Big E being on SmackDown while Kingston and Woods are on Raw simply broadens their reach and allows them to extend their long list of accomplishments.

    "Even though we're on different shows, I still feel like the caveman that's gone out and grabbed fresh meat and berries and brought it back to the cave so that my family can eat," he said. "That's still my perspective. I don't just do this for me. Everything I do adds to our legacy as a trio."

Making History as the First Black Mr. MITB and Why Representation Matters

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    Despite the Money in the Bank concept being around for 16 years, Big E is the first Black Superstar—male or female—in WWE history to hold the briefcase. It's an astounding stat that he holds in high regard.

    Not only is it a great honor for his own career, but he also sees it as a sign that the company is heading in the right direction as far as continuing to embrace diversity and that it's coming naturally. That was evident to him while watching the WrestleMania 37 main event this year between Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks.

    "I really think we're in a good position as far as seeing more diverse faces," he said. "What I love, too, is when you watch Bianca and Sasha, when I watched that match, I didn't think, 'Oh, they thought it was time to have two Black women in a world title match at WrestleMania, so they picked two they thought could do a decent job and put them in there.' No! To me, it felt very clear: These are two of the best women in the world at what they do and they are beyond deserving. They just so happen to be Black women. That is my hope and that's where we're at."

    Big E added that it's an excellent time in wrestling and sports in general for Black athletes and that representation is incredibly important. There's still plenty of work still to be done, but he feels the right steps are being taken, and he's happy to be a part of that cultural shift.

    "When I look around, I see so many incredible Black performers, inside and outside of our company," he said. "It feels like a really great time for Black wrestlers, and there are so many Black wrestling fans that I feel are starting to see themselves on screen. I really do believe that representation matters in media. When you see people that look like you, especially as a kid, you can think, 'Oh, that's something I can do because there are people that look like me that have done it in the past.'

    "We're starting to get on a good path as far as seeing diverse faces and even beyond that. Backstage, we have so many... there are at least four or five Black women who are writers, working in positions backstage and just in the office. On screen and off screen in WWE, seeing people reflect what our world looks like, that's the goal, and I'm excited to be a part of that."

The Importance of His 'Our Heroes Rock' Project

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    On the topic of representation, Big E also discussed "Our Heroes Rock," a Kickstarter campaign designed to bring a 3D family animated series to life about the heroes of Black history and hip-hop.

    The campaign far exceeded its $75,000 goal many months ago, with the show being worked on every day, according to Big E. Jonathan Davenport and Andreas Hale have also been behind the project and aim to include as many engaging elements as possible for all audiences.

    "It's like Shrek," Big E said. "It was intended for a younger audience, but you have the inside jokes there for the adults as well and it's really engaging. I think that's the beauty of animation: It really gives you something for the whole family. We hope to tell these stories, and it's something we work on every single day."

    He added that it's been a "labor of love" and with production already underway, they're in the process of making major moves to ensure it's readily available sooner rather than later. The pilot episode has been released, and Big E couldn't be happier with what they've produced so far.

    "We're on the verge of hopefully sending things to animators very soon and storyboarding, but for those who don't know, we're trying to tell the story and we will tell the story of Ruby Bridges through hip-hop and animation and science fiction," he said. "She was a six-year-old Black girl in New Orleans in 1960, and she's just so easy to resonate with."

Who Will He Cash His Contract In On?

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    Perhaps one of the best parts of Big E becoming Mr. Money in the Bank is that it isn't a foregone conclusion which world champion he'll ultimately cash in his contract on. He has established issues with both of the current titleholders and either one of them would make for a great story.

    Universal champ Roman Reigns is arguably the best possible opponent for Big E considering that no one in the company is hotter than him at the moment. The New Day member has been teasing tension with The Tribal Chief's advocate, Paul Heyman, on Talking Smack since last year, so the seeds have already been planted for that marquee matchup.

    "We're in a bit of a wait-and-see approach," he said. "This is all extremely new, but both Roman and Bobby [Lashley] make a lot of sense. I've been talking about Roman for a long time, the interactions with Paul [Heyman]. He is the guy. If you ask me, and people may have different opinions about who sits atop the heap of our industry across all brands and across all companies, it's Roman. He's hit a stride that is very, very rare to see. He's been killing it. That makes a ton of sense."

    On the Raw side of things, WWE champion Bobby Lashley has been making life miserable for his New Day cohorts, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods, in recent months. Although Big E is a SmackDown Superstar, the briefcase would allow him to switch shows to challenge for that championship if he so chooses.

    "Obviously, with the history with Kofi and Woods recently and Bobby, also having the brief interaction at the Royal Rumble with Lashley, that's an option, too," he said. "I'll sit and think, plot and strategize, but I think both are great champions, and both are great options for me."

What Makes for a Great Wrestling Ring Announcer?

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    Although Big E's role at the SummerSlam pay-per-view in August has not yet been made clear, WWE has already announced he will be involved in the company's search for a member of the WWE Universe to serve as a ring announcer for one night only at the event.

    The New Day member is as charismatic as they come and knows a great ring announcer when he sees—or hears—one. He used the late, great Howard "The Fink" Finkel as an example of someone who all aspiring announcers should be emulating in some form, or at the very least looking to learn from.

    "For me, you want someone who's professional and has that air of being a pro, but I also like when ring announcers put their own personal spin on it and add a little flair," Big E said. "I think of Fink and he felt professional but he felt like an individual, too. That's a style people will mimic, but he was a wonderful one."

    WWE's growing relationship with TikTok was what made this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity possible. This comes after the promotion revealed fans can submit Superstar applications through the social media platform as well.

    "I'm excited to see just how many people reach out and come from different backgrounds and see what the result is at SummerSlam," he said. "I think using a newer, super-popular technology like TikTok is kind of the wave right now and what we're doing as a company."

What He Plans on Keeping Inside His Money in the Bank Briefcase

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    With Big E being one of the most eccentric Superstars on the WWE roster today, it's worth questioning what he'll be carrying in the briefcase going forward.

    Although we're only days removed from his victory, he isn't quite sure what he'll store in there yet—other than the contract for a championship match at any time of his choosing, of course. It isn't spacious enough to include his colorful ring gear, but he has batted around the idea of it holding his socks and other undergarments to lighten his load while traveling.

    "I've given it some thought and I'm not entirely sure," he said. "It's kind of oddly sized. There's enough room in there to fit some things but not enough to where it can fit my boots and ring jacket in there. I don't know. I feel like I can put a good amount of underwear and socks in there, but I don't know if that's interesting enough."

    Regardless of what the former intercontinental champion settles for, fans can rest assured it will be something out of the ordinary and completely characteristic for him.

    "That's a great question and I'm going to give it some more thought, but I'd like to put something unique in there that hasn't been in there before," he said. "I don't know if that's weird, but that's OK with me."

             

    Catch Big E every Friday night on WWE SmackDown at 8/7c on Fox.

    Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.

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