300x250 AD TOP

2016 Eyes on the Ring. Powered by Blogger.

Contact the EOTR Staff


Email *

Message *

EOTR Archive

Recent Posts


EOTR on Twitter

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Tagged under:

Retrospective: The New Day's Historic WWE Tag Team Title Reign

By @TrueGodImmortal 

The New Day are the best tag team on the main roster of the WWE. Sure, you could argue that they haven't been booked as strongly as we'd like them to be lately, but the facts speak for themselves. The New Day, comprised of three singles wrestlers who struggled in the WWE for a while, found their footing by teaming up together and finding magic. It hasn't been an easy road for the group at all, and as they make history by taking their place as the longest reigning tag team champions of all time, it's a special moment in many ways, some of which we might even see the effect of just yet. For one, the trio of Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, and Big E are the most unlikely group of guys to make it this far and that's not a shot at their talent at all, but rather the way minority superstars, black ones to be exact, have been treated on WWE TV.

Now, I'm NOT going to get all "Black Lives Matter", "Oppressed Superstars", or anything like that, but facts are facts. While legendary names like Ron Simmons and Booker T have had success, there's always been an aura surrounding black wrestlers that they weren't good enough or not relatable. I mean, the stereotypical storyline or character has always plagued the black wrestler from the days of Junkyard Dog to the bird befriending style of KoKo B. Ware to the pop locking, hip hopping but really really embarrassing run of R-Truth (the cringeworthy raps and the dancing are horrid) all the way to the stereotypical disrespectful "gangsta" gimmick of Cryme Tyme, black wrestlers just weren't taken seriously in the WWE. Merchandise didn't move for them and they usually didn't connect with the crowd as much as their white counterparts. The same could be said for current black wrestlers in WWE like Darren Young, Titus O'Neil, Apollo Crews, and others that are on the roster.

This was not the case for the New Day.

Why? To be honest, at first, the New Day seemed doomed. They started out like they were going to be the second coming of the Nation of Domination, but that was quickly nixed. After this idea was nixed, we saw vignettes of the trio with a church choir, once again walking that line of stereotypes. However, soon after they arrived to WWE TV, the New Day took a different approach and just became more insulting, turning the power of positivity into something more annoying (and funny) and they worked their way into being very great heels. They weren't making big money or earning any merchandise dollars JUST YET, but they were starting to become likable and entertaining, and you could see they had something as it developed. After gaining traction with the audience, The New Day won the belts for the first time at the Extreme Rules PPV in 2015. At this time, you could hear the crowd begin to cheer more and more for them. It was almost as if the WWE tried as much as they could to make them heels, but they were just becoming too damn good. What made them so damn good during this early inception of the trio?

I think the originality was the first thing, as they didn't stick to being stereotypical wrestlers completely, and though they would dance and make jokes, it was done with more references to pop culture and infusing jokes from the internet, something we hadn't seen really tapped into by the rest of the roster. The New Day were in touch with sections of the audience and began starting a wave throughout the WWE, and their popularity started growing. After dropping the titles briefly to a reunited Prime Time Players tag team, they would recapture the belts at Summerslam 2015 in a Fatal Four Way match that featured teams such as Los Matadores, the Prime Time Players, and the Lucha Dragons. This would begin their second tag title run, and start them on the path to making history. This would also be the turning point for the group as a whole, as they were still heels, but somehow more likable and funnier than the faces. They began having their own merchandise and soon, you would see the crowd pop up with more New Day merch and you'd hear the cheers grow more and more. After the New Day successfully retained the titles over the newly returned Dudley Boyz, they would cross paths with other teams like the Usos and the Lucha Dragons, leading to one of the highlights of their title reign, the triple threat tag team Ladder match against both teams, which was match of the night at the TLC 2015 PPV.

Let's stop for a minute. The New Day at this point hadn't hit their peak yet, but something was happening. They were champions for a few months at this point, and they were clearly just out there having fun in the ring. Wearing the matching jumpsuits, the shirts, the crazy jokes, the call and response catchphrases, they were throwing whatever at the wall and seeing what sticks. That's the basis of the New Day. Just go out there and have fun. If it works, it works. If it doesn't, it doesn't. One thing that stuck out to me about the early part of the New Day and their tag team title reign was the praise they were receiving. How telling was it that CM Punk, a former WWE Champion who had completely turned against the business, said he loved The New Day and would only watch New Day segments on RAW after he left? That shows the appeal of the group right there and what made them so fun is that you really felt like you were just watching them go out there and be themselves. It didn't feel scripted, it didn't feel forced, it just felt like they went out and had fun. It worked. It always does in wrestling. Letting performers go out and do their thing without those heavy restrictions usually nets you great results and the New Day is the most recent embodiment of it. The New Day would end up having their segments on RAW be the most watched for a period of time and people were interested about the trio of wrestlers who were taking the show by storm. Who could imagine a company like WWE, with all their racist and stereotypical history, having the most popular and over group be three black wrestlers who weren't given fair chances to succeed solo wise? If anything, this in itself is something special and historic, even before their title reign hit that epic landmark. The moment the New Day turned the corner during late 2015, they changed the game forever and though many haters wouldn't want to give them that credit, it's evident now. As 2016 began, the group was breaking out beyond what we thought possible and it only continued from there.

It was the dawning of the new year that saw the popularity of The New Day hit the peak, as their knack for using the word "booty" as a catchphrase turned into something bigger. They would talk about making sure you eat your Booty-Os, which was just a silly metaphor to make the crowd more interested in the group and it worked. The turning point came for the group at Wrestlemania 32 when they walked out of a huge box of Booty-Os, instantly making the term a signature of the group and pushing it even further. Soon after, T-shirts with the three stars on them over a cartoon like "Booty-Os" label started popping up and the world was buying them all. Even the entrance of the New Day began getting over, as Big E taking the mic to tell the crowd to clap for the two time tag team champions inspired crowds to cheer along and clap along to the theme music as they would come out. They were still technically heels up until about February 2016, but they were the most over people on the roster for months before that. The boos were turning to all cheers, the merchandise sales were growing (they soon became the no. 1 selling gimmick in the WWE for an extended period of time), and everyone was trying to make sure they weren't "booty". There were Booty-Os shirts, New Day Rocks shirts (their main catchphrase), and everything seemed to be working perfectly for them. How could it get any bigger? Well there's two answers to that question.

The first answer? Pop culture domination. Now, the New Day had been running with the Booty-Os campaign, but on the surface it was just that: a campaign. They would bring out fake boxes of Booty-Os cereal and entertain the crowd, but there was always this wonder in most of the fans' minds like "what if they really made their own cereal", and that would eventually turn into a reality. Now, let me just say this: I've watched the runs of The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Brock Lesnar, Kurt Angle, Randy Savage, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and many of the greatest stars ever. To be honest, 80% of those names I just listed never sold as much merchandise as the New Day, or at least in the frequency which they did, as the New Day merch was flying off the shelf.

And if we're keeping it completely honest, none of those names listed had their own cereal made. Sure, there was the WWF Superstars cereal back in the late 80s to early 90s, but that was over 20 years ago. Since then, no other act in WWE had been able to turn their popularity into something like that, but the moment it became official that the New Day would actually have Booty-Os cereal distributed via FYE, it was apparent this was NOT your usual tag team run. No, no, this was different. This team had the tag team titles, the no. 1 merch sales, and their OWN CEREAL being released. This was monumental and the impact this will have on the industry and the business will not be known until years later. For a group in this era to be that popular that you cannot only sell tickets and T-shirts, but you can also sell cereal, it speaks to the fact that the New Day are the biggest act in the WWE over the last two years and it's not even remotely close. That's their popularity effect and how they've managed to permeate pop culture and the world over. How about their history making title reign? How about the 2nd half of this reign?

No one expected them to have such a title reign and as they turned face, we all suspected that the League of Nations (remember them???) would take the tag titles around Wrestlemania 32. Sure, the WWE knew the New Day was over and they were the most popular and entertaining act on the show, but it was realistic to expect a reign that started at Summerslam to end at Wrestlemania right? Well, the New Day didn't defend the titles at Mania, but the night after, and surprise surprise, they retained the titles anyway. Then, when the team of Enzo and Big Cass came up to the main roster, it seemed like only a matter of time that the team would drop the belts. You had the Usos, the Wyatt Family, Enzo and Cass, the new team of Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, along with The Vaudevillains so it was only a matter of time before the New Day dropped the belts, correct? Plus, the WWE universe doesn't have the attention span to deal with a long time champion or long term rivalry, so there's no chance the WWE gives them a year long reign. Maybe 9 or 10 months, maybe even 11 months, but the reign would come to an end at the very latest by Summerslam 2016. After New Day feuded with and fought all of those teams (and won), I remember thinking the WWE were going to make them lose the titles to Gallows and Anderson at Summerslam. When that didn't happen, I was shocked and wondered what would be next. It became apparent once the New Day started mentioning their title reign as the longest in the modern era that they were holding those belts so long for a reason. I remember reading that Demolition held the record for the tag titles with a reign over 477 days, but surely, the New Day wouldn't be able to beat that record, right?

It was at the Clash of The Champions that I really knew something was up. The brand split had taken away some competition and as I looked at the tag team roster, I figured that the only team strong enough to win the belts would be Enzo and Cass. Yet, Enzo and Cass had a lack of momentum to make a run for the titles. So, I looked to Gallows and Anderson as the possible guys to dethrone New Day, but the WWE booking team has failed Gallows and Anderson, and it doesn't seem like a quick fix to just give them belts and end a hugely important title reign, so when they lost at Clash of Champions rather quickly, I couldn't imagine those two getting another shot at the tag titles. They would get another shot, but soon after, we saw the WWE put together a team of really solid singles wrestlers that made no sense. Cesaro and Sheamus were big names and should have remained as singles wrestlers, but that good old WWE booking placed them together after a Best of 7 series. Surely I thought, the WWE would make this super team beat the New Day and take the tag titles. No such thing happened. Now, personally I didn't think Cesaro and Sheamus deserved to win the titles and if the New Day drop the belts, they should drop the belts to someone who actually are a true team, not two individuals thrown together.

Good thing for me, the WWE seemingly agreed, as Cesaro and Sheamus lost their title matches, and the New Day went into Survivor Series staring down the all time record by just a month or so. Surely, knowing the WWE, they would make the team drop the belts before they break the record right? After Gallows and Anderson earned a title shot yet again, the New Day defeated them and moved on to yet another match with Cesaro and Sheamus. After defeating Cesaro and Sheamus again, it seemed as if the WWE was just taking the New Day through the ringer as Roadblock approached. Admittedly, the last few months of the reign have been lackluster due to their weak booking and barely surviving their matches, but this led to the greatest night of their title reign, December 12, 2016, the day they broke the record officially. After beating both Sheamus and Cesaro, as well as beating Gallows and Anderson in separate matches, the New Day would have to maintain their titles in a triple threat tag team match to open up RAW. The match was a damn good contest, one of the best that New Day had been in recently and to ensure history would be made, the New Day walked away with a huge victory and a win against those two teams in that match. The match showed the cunning side of the New Day and their willingness to do what needs to be done to hold onto the WWE Tag Team Titles, something that elevated the importance of the titles (something the first half of their run didn't do as much). As impressive as that win would be, it would be absolutely nothing compared to what the New Day would have to endure later that night.

The New Day, after a brutal 15 minute match against the two teams they had previously beaten, were put into another Triple threat tag team match for the titles against four of the best wrestlers on the RAW roster, as Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns teamed up and Kevin Owens teamed up with Chris Jericho in a blockbuster match for the titles. The result? Probably one of the best if not the best match of the New Day's title reign and a successful title defense over the four top guys on the RAW roster. This was the crowning achievement in the New Day's historic reign, as they would defeat four teams in the same night and wrestle twice just to hold onto those titles and make history. 478 days and a new record is a reality. The New Day are officially your longest reign WWE Tag Team Champions in history.

Imagine going through all of that to maintain your titles and to break a record. Imagine the beginnings of each wrestler and how their paths looked grim for so long as singles wrestlers. Imagine how many of us wrote the New Day off as a joke in their first few months. Imagine how many of us had no idea that the WWE would even give the record to such a team like the New Day. Imagine that the New Day, a trio of black wrestlers, would induct the Freebirds, a very subtle and thinly veiled racist trio themselves, into the WWE Hall of Fame due to their growing popularity. Imagine that the longest reigning tag team champions are three black wrestlers who together make up one of the greatest trios in wrestling history. Imagine that same trio would spend months and months in the top 3 of the merchandise list, becoming the most successful act during their tenure. Imagine this same act would have their own cereal. None of these things seemed possible back in late 2014 when the group first debuted. 2 years later, as the dust has settled, their hype is slowing dying, and the record is now broken, the New Day stands as the longest reigning tag team champions and one of the biggest things to hit wrestling in the last 15 years. Who would have even thought? There's no telling how much longer they will hold the titles, but one thing is for sure: It has been one hell of a ride for your current and longest reign... W...W...E... TAG... TEAM... CHAMPIONS! As their reign moves on, remember that even the impossible can be possible, and most of all, remember these three words:




Post a Comment