Big E Talks to B/R About WWE Championship Win, If New Day Will Ever Split, More

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistSeptember 15, 2021

Big E Talks to B/R About WWE Championship Win, If New Day Will Ever Split, More

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    There was universal acclaim among fans for Big E's WWE Championship win on Monday Night Raw.
    There was universal acclaim among fans for Big E's WWE Championship win on Monday Night Raw.Credit: WWE.com

    In what was many months—if not years—in the making, Big E cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase on the September 13 edition of Raw to become the brand-new WWE champion.

    The praise he received online afterward was overwhelming, and deservedly so. As one-third of The New Day, Big E has consistently been one of the most entertaining aspects of WWE TV for a long time and has developed into a true main event player over the last year alone.

    Since being separated from Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods in the 2020 WWE Draft, he has scored several high-profile victories, held the Intercontinental Championship for a few months and won the Money in the Bank ladder match. His ascent to the top has been brilliantly booked, and it culminated in an emotional moment on Monday night.

    But this is only the beginning for Big E. He's beloved as a babyface, is exceptionally skilled on the mic and in the ring and has only scratched the surface of what he can do as a singles star.

    Fresh off his huge WWE Championship victory on Raw, Big E caught up with Bleacher Report to talk one of the greatest nights of his career to date, if he ever thought he'd cash in unsuccessfully, why New Day will never split up and more.

    Check out the complete audio of the interview on the next slide and read on for the highlights.

Getting Such a Positive Reaction to His WWE Title Win from Fans and Peers

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    Similar to when he and New Day won the WWE Tag Team Championship in Brooklyn at SummerSlam 2015 or when he became Mr. Money in the Bank, Monday was a sleepless night for Big E. Seeing such positive feedback and reaction to his WWE Championship victory online has left him feeling grateful and humble.

    Although he has admitted to never being good at receiving compliments, he's looking to get better at that and wants everyone who has been so supportive of him along his journey to know that he appreciates the outpouring of love over the last few days.

    That includes Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods, of course, as well as fellow WWE Superstar and Nexus member Michael Tarver, who Big E gives credit to for believing in him before he could believe in himself.

    "It was beautiful," he said about the scene backstage when he walked through Gorilla Position as WWE champion. "It's late. It's after 11 p.m. by the time I'm done glad-handing and thanking everyone at ringside. It was probably almost 11:30 p.m., but Gorilla was still almost full with people there, talent and producers and so many people. It's awesome getting love from your peers: people who are great at their craft and work hard, too."

    He went on to say that he had 144 missed texts, not including the many direct messages he received through Twitter and Instagram. He had a four-hour ride from Boston to Brooklyn on Tuesday night but has yet to get back to all of them. Two special people, in particular, he heard from were WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair and former Divas champion AJ Lee.

    "I'll always geek for a Ric Flair text," Big E said. "I got a Ric Flair text a few months ago for Money in the Bank and he texted me again last night. It's Ric Flair. Getting a Ric Flair text is pretty ridiculous. But you know, there are people who used to work here that did reach out and say some really positive things. AJ Lee, who I still talk to fairly regularly and definitely consider her a friend, reached out and said some really beautiful things. Everyone has just been so incredibly nice."

How Last-Minute His Cash-In Was

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    Big E's Money in the Bank cash-in on Monday's Raw came as much of a surprise to him as it did the rest of the WWE Universe.

    The two-time Intercontinental champion announced ahead of Raw via Twitter on Monday afternoon that he intended on cashing in his contract later in the night on the winner of the WWE Championship match between Bobby Lashley and Randy Orton. Sure enough, he did just that and walked out as champion.

    "When I started this loop, my intention was that I was supposed to be home Monday morning after the live event Sunday and I realized I was going to Raw last-minute," Big E said. "That was a bit of a last-minute decision. There was also the option of maybe I go out there and do some teasing and come back later when it's time to actually cash-in or go back to SmackDown and cash-in there. I wasn't really sure. It was an afternoon, that day decision and it all happened very, very quickly. For me, it was definitely not something that was set in stone days and days ahead."

    Big E cashing in the contract in the fashion he did was unprecedented in a way. A few former Money in the Bank winners have announced the date of their cash-in beforehand and were successful, but never have done so earlier in the day, and he hopes it sets the tone for a special title reign.

    "I just want to do things uniquely," he said. "I think a lot of people clamored for me to be a world champion or to be in this position but that I needed to be more serious and fit a certain mold. One of my things as a performer is that what I learned in our journey was, honestly, it was so much more rewarding to do it our way.

    "There were so many people back in 2014 that said we needed to be a certain way or carry ourselves a certain way or that Kofi should get rid of me and Woods," he continued. "We were stubborn about wanting to do things our way in a way that felt right and genuine to us. Those are lessons I carried over as a singles competitor. I want my run to feel unique. I don't want to feel like I had to shave off the edges of who I am and to fit a certain mold. It felt like a bit of a unique way to handle the cash-in, and I want my championship run to have a bit of that same feeling."

Why His Successful Cash-in Was Inevitable and Why It Was Worth the Wait

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    The men's Money in the Bank Ladder match-winners haven't had a strong track record when it comes to cash-ins in recent years.

    Although Brock Lesnar cashed in successfully in 2019, Baron Corbin and Braun Strowman both failed in 2017 and 2018, respectively. The 2020 winner, Otis, lost the contract to The Miz before he could cash it in.

    In Big E's mind, however, there was little to no chance that he'd trade in that title shot and come up empty. Given his immense level of popularity, most fans figured the same.

    "I didn't really worry too much about it," he said about whether he thought he could cash-in and lose. "I will say—and not to sound arrogant—people would have been upset if I failed my cash-in. Yeah, it would not have been a good move. I didn't really think that was going to happen, but you never know. It's always a possibility. Also for me, it's just a wasteful, not-positive emotion or character trait to worry about those things I can't control. I just tried to do the best I could while I had the briefcase and, of course, it was briefly stolen from me and I had to get it back quickly, but I didn't spend too much time worrying about it, mostly because I felt like it was inevitable."

    Ultimately, he wouldn't change anything about his journey to the mountaintop of WWE. Fans were clamoring for him to be at this level years ago, but the groundswell of support grew the longer the company waited to strap the rocket to him.

    That reaction proved to be worth the wait for him, and it made that moment on Monday night mean that much more.

    "I think the thing that I love is that it feels earned," he said. "There are parts of me where during my initial ascent to the main roster, I thought I was ready. Not that I wasn't ready for the main roster, but maybe at times I wasn't as ready as I thought. I feel like in many ways I've grown as a performer on the mic and in the ring. I'm more comfortable than I was even a couple of years ago. I really have enjoyed this run because it feels earned, and Edge texted me something pretty similar to that. It's sweeter because it took so long."

Why a New Day Split Makes No Sense and Will Never Happen

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    Up until Monday night, there were still a segment of fans pitching a potential New Day split with Kofi Kingston and/or Xavier Woods turning on Big E during Raw and causing him to lose his Money in the Bank cash-in.

    What those fans don't realize is that a New Day split simply isn't going to happen, for a variety of reasons. As seen during Kingston's run as WWE champion two years ago, it's possible for one or more of them to have singles success and for New Day to still coexist as a unit.

    "There are so many other routes to go that I think work," Big E said. "If we listened to people or people got their way years ago and we broke up... Kofi obviously still would've deserved his championship run, but we wouldn't have been able to tell that story in the same way. I just think beyond our selfish desire to be together because we love being together and love each other, I think it gives you more options now. We got to tell this story of brotherhood. We got to go through a tag team Gauntlet match a few years ago to earn another man a world championship run. That to me is so unique and not many people could've pulled it off as well."

    Now that New Day has seemingly reunited on Raw, Big E also commented on potential matchups he'd like to see themselves have with other trios: "Because we were so resistant to these ideas and inclinations to break us up or turn on each other, now you have this opportunity to look across the pond or look across the brand and see a potential incredible rivalry with The Bloodline. If it's up to me, The Hurt Business is getting back together, and that's another possibility."

    More than anything else, it wouldn't be logical for WWE to break up New Day when they're still at the peak of their popularity, especially with their newly announced interactive Netflix special featuring The Undertaker due out October 5th.

    "There are a lot of things to consider beyond that," Big E said. "It doesn't make a lot of sense. We're talking the end of the New Day podcast and all the opportunities that we're currently in, all the future opportunities. I think we're a really unique group. Not to pat ourselves on the back too hard, but I don't think you see three guys are as talented as we are who we are as close as we are in this business that aren't related that for seven years, we're not annoyed with each other, we're not at each other's necks. I don't know why you'd want to waste all of that to do a simple turn on each other. And then what in six months? You're broken up in six months. It doesn't make much sense. Don't hold your breath. It's over. Let it all go. Let all that stuff go because it's not in the cards."

Whether He's a Raw Superstar Now and His Interactions with Paul Heyman

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    Technically, following his WWE Championship win this week, the prestigious prize is now property of SmackDown, a show Big E has been assigned to since 2017. WWE hasn't made it clear whether he will remain on SmackDown for now or immediately report to Raw, but it will likely wind up being the latter.

    Of course, this is a situation that could easily be resolved by the time the 2021 WWE Draft rolls around, but it's possible WWE clarifies his status as a SmackDown Superstar as soon as Friday's episode. Two world titles don't typically remain on the same show for long, so unless Roman Reigns is Raw bound, Big E is almost certainly going to make Monday nights his new home going forward.

    "That is a great question," Big E said. "My assumption is that I'm now a Raw guy. Until I hear differently, that's my assumption. I really loved my time on blue. I think I was on SmackDown for the last four years. I'm really appreciative, I love that show, and such an incredible roster. But now it looks like my time is here on Raw, and I'm excited to do all the things with Kofi and Woods. There's a whole different avenue of guys I can mix it up with now. As far as I know, again, 99.95 percent of me wants to say I'm purely a Raw guy, but as I'm sure you know, in this business and in this industry, you never really quite know."

    Interestingly enough, from the moment he won the Money in the Bank briefcase and even in the months leading up to that, Big E was planting the seeds for a future match with Roman Reigns. Big E has outright said on Talking Smack in the past that he wanted Reigns at WrestleMania 38 for the Universal Championship.

    That's in addition to Big E teasing Heyman on SmackDown for the last two months about potentially cashing in on Reigns. Of course, that didn't happen, and Big E isn't sure whether those interactions were intended to be a red herring or not.

    "It's hard to really say what the intention was as far as I know," he said. "It just makes sense to keep your options open, especially if I'm going to be on SmackDown. Why not do something? And Paul is such a great foil for all of that stuff... I don't know what the intention was, I can't speak to that because I'm kind of in the dark there, but I'm glad we got to lead people that way [with the cash-in on Roman] and have a little fun."

His Thoughts on Black Stars' Success in WWE Becoming the Norm

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    Our last chat with Big E over the summer went in depth about his Our Heroes Rock project and why representation matters in wrestling. He discussed more this time about how much pride it brings him to see Black wrestlers such as Sasha Banks, Bianca Belair and Bobby Lashley find success in WWE and for it to become more of the norm as opposed to anything out of the ordinary.

    "That's the hope: that it just becomes the norm," he said. "It's been cool this year to see all the focus on Black wrestlers and them getting their due. I guess I'm one of them, but yes, it's been a really beautiful thing to see in WWE and outside of WWE. First off, hats off to Bobby. He was a hell of a champion, he looked the part, he performed the part. I loved him in The Hurt Business and as a singles. I think he did a killer job throughout."

    Big E is just the fourth Black star ever to hold the WWE Championship, taking the title off of the third in Lashley. What made the moment even more special is that it was completely organic and didn't feel forced solely so history could be made.

    Rather, he's the perfect person to be WWE champion at this moment.

    "I love that I can look around and see Sasha and Bianca and Bobby and Kofi and Woods and even Cedric [Alexander]. I love that it's not, 'Oh, here are men and women that are being put in these positions to hit a certain number or quota.' To me, when I look around, I think, 'Man, these are just undeniable talents. These Black wrestlers that are being given these opportunities and these championships, it's just clear they deserve these championships and that's what I love."

         

    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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