A new WWE 24 documentary premiered on WWE Network today. It is all about the current WWE Intercontinental Champion on the Smackdown brand, Big E. You can check it out on-demand now.
Big E begins by saying there is a difference between Ettore Ewen and Big E. Being an introvert his entire life, he likes a quiet life, however, when the red light is on, he brings out the goofiest part of himself. Born in Tampa, Florida, he grew up in a religious household since his father was a preacher. He loved WCW as a kid, watching big guys like Vader, Ron Simmons, Scott Steiner, and his favorite, Goldberg. His dream was to play football, but his school ‘Tampa Preparatory’ did not have a team. Joining the wrestling team, he focused on working out which helped him become bigger, thus giving him the nickname “Big E”. While he was not good during his freshman year, he was determined to be better which helped him win the state champion in his junior year. With prep school being expensive, he transferred to another school which happened to have a football team. Playing one year at his new school, he was noticed by a coach from the University of Iowa while working out in the weight room. This encounter helped him join the University of Iowa. Optimistic about obtaining his dream to play football, an ACL injury created a setback. After recovering from the ACL tear, he would tear his other ACL and then his pectoral. Bouncing back from his injuries, Big E would find a spot in the rotation. Unfortunately, he decided to quit after suffering a patella injury. Knowing he would not be able to achieve his dream of playing football, he started to feel lost, almost putting himself in a dark place. It would take his coach forcing him to go see a therapist help him pull himself out of his depression. Not knowing what to do for the rest of his life, Big E would go to graduate school at Iowa. However, an opportunity at WWE would come about after a conversation between Iowa Wrestling coach Mike Doughty and Jim Ross during a flight. Jim Ross would give his business card to Doughty if he were to find someone who might be interested which led to Big E being recommended.
At first, Big E thought being in professional wrestling was out of his wheelhouse, especially never thinking it would be something he could do. However, his drive to be an athlete led him to a tryout at FCW. It was a big leap, knowing he did not have the experience but continued to show he wanted to be there. After some time, he developed the wrestling skill but needed to develop his character. Those who were in FCW at the time recalled his promos during promo class, agreeing it was funny to see him out of his shell. Big E wanted to show that he had more than to him than being a serious character. Speaking about working out, Big E says lifting gives him peace and somewhat meditative. The idea of powerlifting came from Rob MacIntyre who also works with John Cena. He talks about working out at Cena’s gym in Florida and hitting a bench of 575 lbs, which Cena promised he would include in his documentary. With the inception of NXT at Full Sail University, his first match was a dark match against Xavier Woods. Later on, the idea for the five count would come from Dusty Rhodes which was inspired by King Kong Bundy’s five count. With this new idea, they knew they had something as the fans would be thoroughly engaged with it.
When it came time to be called up, Big E originally thought he would be put in a group with Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Dean Ambrose. However, with a change of plans, he would debut by attacking John Cena and be paired up with AJ Lee and Dolph Ziggler. Big E believed the call-up was great timing because he needed it to grow. At the time of his called up, he had to change up between being the NXT champion and his serious, bodyguard persona.
His first match on the main roster would come at Wrestlemania in a tag team match with Dolph Ziggler against Kane and Daniel Bryan for the WWE Tag Team Championships. In 2013, Big E would go on to find singles success after winning the Intercontinental Championship. However, at the time, he was not comfortable with his run, almost feeling like he was walking on eggshells. Looking back, Big E believes he could have done more with the run and wanting to show he had more to offer after a press conference promo. With his confidence being hurt, he thanks Luke Harper for giving him words of encouragement after a match against Seth Rollins on Main Event.
His career would make a huge change the trio of him, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods to form The New Day. Big E knew they had something when they started to click during the making of their vignettes. After constantly pitching ideas for the trio, Vince would pitch the idea for them to be preachers. While Vince’s idea was off from what they had, they hoped to connect with the fan through their genuine chemistry. However, the fans would reject them, being consistently booed. Being booed at for so long, they decide they would try making themselves laughed which helped them get over with the crowd. Being in The New Day allowed Big E to bring out his personality and love entertaining people.
After the murder of George Floyd, Big E spoke about the pain and hurt he felt especially having his own experience. He recalled a time being pulled over by the cops and having a gun pointed to his face after being accused of having a gun in his car. To bring attention to racial injustice and the Black Lives Matter movement, during their entrance on an episode of Smackdown, Big E and Kofi Kingston would take a knee in the ring. They also wore armbands with the names of those lost by racial injustice and had a School House Rock gear designed in honor of black activists and historical figures. With Kingston and Woods being out with injury, this would give Big E a chance to singles run. There was always the conversation about Big E being a serious character, but he wanted to move away from the stereotypical big man. Instead, Big E wanted to show he had different sides to himself. With his singles push, Big E would go on to defeat Sami Zayn to win the Intercontinental Championship for the second time in his career. After the match, he would receive a standing ovation in the back and thanked Kofi and Xavier for helping him get to this opportunity. Big E spoke about the loss of Jon Huber aka Luke Harper. He had a close friendship with Harper, texting each other for several years. While the news of Huber’s passing was very hard for him, he felt fortunate to have known and had him in his life. The documentary concludes with Big E looks back at his path, feeling grateful for being where it is at, and hopes he can make the world better.
Aneil’s Take: A great documentary by WWE about The New Day’s Big E. I think it was fascinating to see the journey Big E took to get to where he is now and the encounters that helped him get here. For example, if he did not have that encounter with his future Iowa coach, who knows if that would have kickstarted his journey to WWE. Also, what if Big E did not get injured during college and went to the pros, what is the chance of The New Day coming together? As a believer of things happening for a reason, it was cool to see these events in his life build-up to his current success.
Also, from this documentary, you could tell Big E has a lot of charisma from his FCW days but the vision that management had for him restricted his potential. Thankfully The New Day stable came around, although it did not go as they originally thought. I think his time in The New Day gave him the support system and confidence he needed to find who he truly is as a character. With his current run as Intercontinental Champion, I believe he will be a World Champion soon.