WWE hasn’t had much luck recently debuting characters after a lengthy series of vignettes. The string of recent failures can be traced back to Brodus Clay’s re-debut as the Funkasaurus, the laughable ‘Lord Tensai’ debut and let’s not forget Fandango’s debut (his entrance music was more ‘over’ than him). It might be a bit too early to label Bo Dallas and Adam Rose as busts, but it has been months and they have yet to gain traction.
Yes, there have been some successes, with The Wyatt Family being the biggest, but it isn’t always the performers’ fault.
Have vignettes lost their appeal? Will The New Day continue the string of failures?
Before I become critical of Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods and Big E, let me state that they are all talented wrestlers. Kofi’s athleticism is undeniable, Xavier’s mic skills are phenomenal and Big E’s one of the strongest dudes I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, The New Day was doomed long before they debuted.
Let me explain.
The WWE first made the mistake of reacting to something negative written about them. Dion Beary of The Atlantic wrote an article pointing out how professional wrestling has pushed racist stereotypes and haven’t pushed many African American superstars. Beary’s article is great and I 100% agree with his argument. WWE needed to fix the issue, but maybe take a few weeks to plan something. The article was posted on July 10th…and on July 21st, Xavier Woods came after Kofi and Big E lost to RybAxel (2:30 mark) and hinted at creating an angry stable of African Americans. The group made a few other cameos scouting talent to possibly add to the stable.
Well, August 9th, Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager was shot down in Ferguston, Missouri. It wasn’t the right time for an angry race-related stable storyline.
You didn’t see much of the trio for the next three months. They appeared in a few battle royals, but that was it. The first time you saw them was when the Xavier Woods vignette aired. You didn’t know if Woods was going solo or not. We found out in the weeks after when they aired the Kofi Kingston vignette and Big E vignette both aired.
The New Day is ‘The Power Rangers’ meets 90’s Kirk Franklin gospel/rap movement, right?
WWE basically washed away all the edge the trio could have had. They are exactly what Xavier ranted against when they first joined forces. They are what you’d expect an African American stable to be in the WWE. You could have formed this group in the 80’s with Koko B. Ware, Junk Yard Dog and Slick. Kofi is just a hyper-version of the tired character he’s played the last few years. Big E shows a little more personality (I like the handkerchief gimmick), but is just the muscle. Xavier is the lost man and would be best suited as a manager/mouthpiece.
In order for The New Day to get over, they would need to face a heel group with major heat on them. They are doing the exact opposite of that by facing Stardust and Goldust. In wrestling fans’ eyes, the Rhodes brothers can do no wrong. WWE has booked them in spots to get heat, but it really isn’t there. They actually cheered when they kept injuring Uso’s leg.
The WWE may want to wait until the Ferguson situation is over before they throw any heat on the group. This could all be one big swerve, but I don’t see it happening. I can’t wait until WWE comes out horrible merch. I guess it can’t be any worse than ‘Uso Crazy’ gear worn by The Usos.
The vignettes didn’t do Kofi, Xavier and Big E any favors. Look at all the young stars who recently got over in WWE. The Shield just appeared randomly on a pay-per-view and Paige appeared on RAW unannounced. Rusev didn’t have any vignettes, but he would come out on RAW and Smackdown with Lana to get actual face-to-face heat. He already appeared in The Royal Rumble, so people had an idea he would be a monster. Also, face-to-face heat was used to get Bad News Barrett over before he stepped in the ring.
In today’s age of the dirt sheets, people can easily find out spoilers about cryptic vignettes. Unannounced debuts get more people talking today. The buzz was thick in the air when The Shield debuted. If you debut new superstars that way, there needs to be a plan for the next 2-3 months of bookings. It takes more planning, but the track record speaks for itself.
The New Day have a tough hill to climb in order to succeed with their current gimmick. People got a little taste of a possible ‘New Nation of Domination’…and they want it bad.
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.