Power in Numbers #2: A Case Study From a Decade of WWE’s Booking of Groups – The New Day by Jake Thomas

This is the second article in my ongoing series about groups in WWE. If you missed the first article, talking about stables that didn’t reach their potential, you can find that here. Let’s get into the article!

In the first edition of Power of Numbers, we took a deeper look into The Nexus and The Straight Edge Society, two stables that I loved the idea of and the wrestlers in it, but they never took off due to a variety of different reasons. One of these being poor booking from WWE creative. However, it hasn’t all been doom and gloom when it comes to the booking of groups in WWE, with some notable exceptions standing above others. With the help of their fellow stable members, these groups were able to succeed where others haven’t, gifting opportunities to wrestlers that may not have made it to the main event on their own. One group in particular has been able to break the mold and achieve (as Borat would say) great success on the main roster, becoming one of the top acts in the company.

The New Day

Let me hear you say NEW DAY! The New Day will go down as one of the most successful trios in WWE history, but it certainly didn’t look like that at the start. Originally, The New Day were envisioned as babyfaces who were tired of being misused and held back, that needed to come together as a collective unit to achieve their goals. In July 2014, after a loss to Rybaxel, Xavier Woods offered fellow babyfaces Kofi Kingston and Big E the opportunity to have “their time to shine” after the two had embarked on a losing streak of sorts. What followed was interesting, as The New Day would disappear from TV shortly after this, leading many to wonder if the new stable idea had fizzled out almost immediately.

I almost feel that can’t even be considered when talking about The New Day, as that original idea could even be a potential missed opportunity to write about separately. Kofi Kingston, who had yet to sniff the heel side in his WWE career, and Big E who had flirted with both sides after an IC Title reign, working as pent up heels with Woods as their mouthpiece, desperate for change? Not the same gimmick we would end up getting. The original idea of The New Day had potential, but some would argue the end product of what New Day would instead become would push them to heights they wouldn’t have reached.

Vignettes began to play towards the end of 2014, showing a completely different take on The New Day to what we saw earlier. Instead of aggressive heels seeking change, they resembled dancing preachers, spreading messages of positivity and “A New Day”. Fans weren’t particularly happy with this new version of The New Day, and it showed with initial crowd reactions being poor. Despite being babyfaces, The New Day were loudly booed in matches against heels like Cesaro and Tyson Kidd, but remained as smiling babyfaces. It wasn’t until after Wrestlemania 31 when The New Day would turn heel and beat Cesaro and Kidd in April at Extreme Rules 2015 (to win the Tag Team Titles for the first time) did The New Day really hit their stride.

Enacting the Freebird rule, which hadn’t been used in a long time in WWE, Woods, Big E and Kingston would regularly rotate throughout tag team matches. Through feuds with Kidd and Cesaro, The Lucha Dragons, The Prime Time Players and more, not only were they consistently one of the most entertaining parts of WWE with their promos, but the quality of matches was extremely high. Fans became upset when they lost the titles to the Prime Time Players at Money in the Bank 2015, showing the remarkable transformation from being loudly despised, to being “cool heels” thanks to entertaining promos along with consistently good matches. Not only were the crowd reacting, but merchandise for The New Day would become a big seller throughout their entire run and even up to this day.

After The New Day won the titles back from the PTP at Summerslam 2015, this could be considered the climax to the beginning of their run as a group. However, this win was significant as it would be the last tag title change for the next year and a half. The win at Summerslam would lead The New Day to one of their greatest accomplishments as a group, breaking the record for longest reigning tag team champions in 2016. They also became babyfaces during that title reign including their memorable WrestleMania 32 entrance in 2016 when they entered the stadium in a Booty O’s cereal box.

The New Day would hold the titles for 483 days, which is a very long time when considering how infrequently title reigns would last longer than even a year in the modern era. However, as what happens regularly in wrestling, towards the end of their run and after losing the titles at the end of 2016, people started to tire on The New Day. Instead of breaking up, a move to Smackdown in 2017 in the Superstar Shakeup was deemed as a necessary move to keep the team going. What followed was one of the great rivalries The New Day would have as a team, their series of matches with The Usos. The two teams just clicked, and what would follow was a series of incredible matches that just kept getting better, including a spectacular Hell in a Cell tag team match. Both teams brought out the best in one another and arguably helped keep The New Day fresh when it seemed like they were potentially getting stale.

However, as time went on, people again began to question the idea of a New Day breakup. The New Day have regularly stated in interviews they had no intention of splitting up as a team, but as of 2019, they had held five tag titles, various records and there wasn’t a lot left for them to do as a team. Or so we thought.

Woods had long stated that his one career goal was to see Kingston hold a World Title in the WWE. Fans would regularly get behind Kingston in Money in the Bank matches, Royal Rumbles when he would save himself from elimination and Elimination Chambers. The Money in the Bank ladder match from 2018 was particularly notable, as the fans were strongly behind Kingston for the entirety of the match. When Ali went down and injured earlier this year, and KofiMania happened, the bond that The New Day had with each other was such a strong aspect of the storyline, with Woods and Big E winning a tag gauntlet to get Kingston to Mania. When Kingston beat Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania this year it was one of the most surreal moments in Wrestlemania history, leaving not a dry eye in the house and a true testament to the strength of New Day. It was no surprise that Kofi’s greatest moment was celebrated with his New Day brothers right there with him.

To see someone like Kofi Kingston, who was largely written off by the WWE as a lower to upper mid-carder for life become WWE Champion was fantastic. With the help of The New Day, Kingston was able to prove the naysayers wrong and elevate himself to become WWE Champion. It’s highly unlikely that Kingston, at the stage he is at in his career, would’ve been able to make it to Mania and the WWE Title without The New Day. Woods and Big E would also be rewarded later winning the Smackdown tag titles, meaning The New Day “held all the gold”. Many fans had clamored for this throughout their run but never believed it would happen, especially not with Kingston holding the WWE Title.

The New Day are the ultimate example of a group that took the ball and ran with it. Whether it be through the hard work of The New Day, the booking decisions which at the time seemed questionable or the initial negative crowd reactions, The New Day defied the odds to become main event talent. It looked like Kofi Kingston, or even Xavier Woods for that matter, would never make it to the main event level. Now The New Day are one of the top acts on the show, and with the 2019 draft in progress (I’ve got New Day going to Raw), The New Day will be able to impose themselves further in the WWE. Whilst Kofi losing the WWE Championship to Brock Lesnar was a poor end to a dominant six-month title reign, it takes nothing away from what has been a stellar run from the entire New Day. It’s been over five years and they are still going strong. It’s a New Day, yes it is.