Anyone who’s watched pro wrestling for any length of time is aware that the business is incredibly cyclical. As a whole it gets incredibly popular for a stretch of time, then it goes through a steady decline for a similar stretch. Eventually is hits a low point that the general public thinks it can never recover from. Like a perfectly scripted storyline the business always bounces back. Seemingly down for the count it always emerges from the ashes and rises to prominence.
In addition to the popularity of the business, the things that fans like and dislike and want to watch are cyclical. What worked in the 1980’s was old news by the 1990’s. What worked in the late 90’s and early 2000’s won’t necessarily work now. As much as many fans viewed 2015 as a down year for WWE, it is undeniable the company hit a few things out of the park. Among the successes was Brock Lesnar’s dominant run as champion, Seth Rollins’ rise to the top, John Cena’s weekly U.S. title open challenge, the NXT women’s division, the emergence of Jason Jordan and Chad Gable and last but not least the advent of The New Day.
Going back to last year’s Royal Rumble they were getting booed out of the building and not in the good way. They weren’t the heels people loved to hate, people just generally seemed to dislike them. To their credit the group kept growing, evolving and doing what felt right to them. Eight months later at SummerSlam The New Day was the most popular entity in the wrestling industry. I remember hearing them being booed in Philadelphia at the Rumble. I also remember walking into the Barclays Center for TakeOver Brooklyn and hearing almost every chant in the “New Day Rocks” cadence. I remember hearing New Day Rocks throughout the afternoon and evening at a show they weren’t even a part of. Some fans were even cutting New Day promos waiting in line for the doors to open. Add on two Tag Team title reigns and an electrifying ladder match and 2015 turned into an incredible year for the trio.
As great as The New Day has become and as popular as they are, it can’t last forever if the group doesn’t evolve. Yes, they are hilarious whenever they come out. They have been very creative whether it is the trombone, the unicorn horns or Big E’s pitch pipe. They have been very innovative with new tee shirts and hoodies, Kofi’s winged shoes and Xavier’s Iron Sheik boots. They are entertaining and they get a reaction every time they come out to the ring. As over as they are, The New Day proved in 2015 that things can change pretty fast. Most of the time they do. Unfortunately for the group they continue to lose non-title and 6-man tag matches pretty regularly. To many fans, especially the casual fans WWE so covets, it makes their antics look a little hollow. It makes them come across as more silly and less threatening. The WWE tag team scene, especially with the amount of talent currently in NXT, hasn’t been this strong in years. But the champions are made to look a little weaker than they should. Maybe I’m nitpicking, but I’d rather see them cheating to win more often and getting pinned significantly less.
Back in late September and early October New Day had started a bit of a program with John Cena for the U.S.title. They had aligned at least a little bit with Seth Rollins and they closed the October 5th Raw by beating down Cena, Dolph Ziggler and the Dudley Boyz. One specific moment stood out to me. When Ziggler’s music hit as he was supposed to wrestle Cena, The New Day dragged his lifeless body out. After having their seriousness questioned by Cena the week before, Xavier Woods asked him, “Is this serious enough for you?” Xavier Woods came across as a true mouthpiece for his stable and the stable itself came across as a threatening bunch. It looked like The New Day could be both fun AND formidable. As a tag team that has three members they have a built in advantage that SHOULD make them a force to be reckoned with, that should make them a tough mountain to climb. It also could have made for an interesting challenge for John Cena. I had held out hope that Kofi would be the one to unseat Cena prior to his absence, only to be disappointed by the arrival of Alberto Del Rio. The U.S. title hasn’t been half as interesting since.
Now some felt that The New Day having a sharper edge would cause them to lose what made them entertaining in the first place. The thing is, evolution doesn’t take place overnight. The “serious” angle didn’t stick and hasn’t been present since, but it could have been interesting to see them balance being silly and funny with being violent and destructive. It could have taken place over the course of a year or more. Being silly and funny won’t be over forever, because nothing ever is in wrestling. Fans enjoy things for a certain amount of time and then we want something else. The transformation could have helped lead them into whatever the next phase of their story is going to be. I normally wouldn’t be concerned about a performer or group that is as beloved as these three are, but we’ve seen time and time again the likes of Ziggler, Cesaro and Damien Sandow kept in the background despite our cries for them to be pushed toward the top. We’ve also seen an incredible lack of long term planning, so I don’t have much faith in creative knowing what to do with them past WrestleMania.
Another worry I have is that the group will be broken up before getting as much as they can out of them. They truly are a highlight every week and they have made us care about tag team wrestling more than any time in recent memory. I think it would be great to have one of the members hold a singles title while they are still tag team champs. It would show that there is a reward for hard work that gets results. It would give them a new type of story to tell and it could lead to them causing all kinds of havoc for the rest of the roster. I enjoy a powerful stable, a stable that knows how to get itself ahead. The stable we are being told is the true force, the League of Nations, is really little more than a plot device. Nobody really takes Rusev, Sheamus, Del Rio or Barrett seriously because we’ve been given zero reason to. We know when it comes down to it, they are typically going to lose. Tell me it wouldn’t be more fun to see The New Day with the U.S. title.
For the foreseeable future, The New Day will continue to be among the most entertaining parts of the WWE product. They will continue to consistently get reactions from the crowd wherever they go. They will also display incredible ability in the ring while making us laugh before, during and after matches. They will probably even continue to introduce new props to their repertoire. But ultimately, there has to be more to them than superficial things. They need to use their numbers to continue to win. They need to continue to strive for more. I am probably at least a year too early for this worry, but I just feel that Kofi, Big E and Xavier Woods have come too far to get turned back now.
The New Day has earned a new year with new accomplishments. 2015 was the best year in each of their careers so here’s to 2016 being the next step in their continued development. New.. Day Rocks!