You’re no stranger to the conversation about representation. That’s been The New Day’s m.o. since day one. It was dope to wake up and on Twitter that Big E was trending alongside #BlackWrestlingDraws, which is a movement that’s come up fairly recently. Are you feeling that added responsibility of not only being the man, but being the man during a time where fans are actively saying, “We want to see more of this on TV?”
Yeah, man. That’s really dope. And I think the beautiful thing is [that it’s] across companies. One of the things I looked at, and I feel bad because I don’t remember exactly who put them together, but very recently, there was a list of, much like PWI does their list of top 500 wrestlers, it’s the list of the best several hundred Black wrestlers on the planet right now. And to look at that list and to not even be in the top 10, for me, it wasn’t like, “oh, I feel slighted.” It’s “oh, man, there are so many incredibly dope Black wrestlers across this country, across the globe.” And that’s really, really cool. So, in many ways, it feels like a boom period for Black wrestlers. I look around and there are so many [wrestlers] that I’m such a fan of, in WWE and outside of WWE. You look at the Jonathan Gresham’s, the Fred Yehi’s, the Lee Moriarty’s. There are so many guys that I watch them and think, “man, those guys are incredible, so dope.” I can go on and on as well, too. And so many Black women as well, like Trish Adora, but there’s just so many [great performers out there].
It’s an amazing time. I will say, for a time like this, where there are a number of very talented Black wrestlers, it’s been awesome to see that you’re the guy. You spread love across promotions, you’re unafraid to shout people out, and you got a lot of that love back after your win on Monday night. That speaks to the man you are and your character. It’s a beautiful thing to see somebody get their flowers while they’re still able to smell them.
No, completely. I’m a big proponent of that. I’m huge proponent. And as much as I do believe in paying homage to those who have gone, let’s give people their love while they’re still here and they can smell those flowers. They can take it all in. I’ve been inspired by some new people, I can say, from different companies and from just different walks of life, who’ve said so many beautiful and kind things to me. The very least I can do, is to do the same for others. Kindness begets more kindness. I want to see more of that.
Now The New Day has a history of showing out. This is going to be a big moment for you, especially on Raw next week. Are there any plans for a Big E championship celebration? Can you give us a hint of what we might be walking into in this era of you as a champion?
Man, I wish I had some insight for you. My head is still spinning. I’m just trying to get my feet on the ground and figure out what the next move is for the next five minutes from now. I think, for me, and we’ll see how things feel, but the biggest thing for me is I always just want it to still be me. I didn’t want to have to change myself to fit into the mold of what I thought a champion should be. I want to be entertaining. I want to have fun, but I also… it’s just pretty much the same mindset for my run since over the last year, since I started doing single stuff. That’s still my mantra. It’s still being me, but I’m here with an added layer of determination. I’m here for a purpose. There’s a reason I’m here, and it’s not just to win the championship. This is just the beginning of the work towards that. But right now we’ll see what Monday holds. Of course, it’s going to involve Woods and Kof, but I’m excited for it. Whatever it’ll be, I’m excited for it.
I will say, it’s interesting, because, I guess, before we were speaking, I looked back at the promo… well, the conversation you had with Paul Heyman on Talking Smack back in December, where it seemed like he may have seen the spark in you. But, realistically, it may have gone as far back as that back and forth you had with The Miz last summer. Whenever we see the WWE documentary on this part of your journey… obviously, last night’s going to rank high. But, as a singles performer, it has to feel good, being able shut up those haters. You know what I’m saying?
Yeah. I mean, that’s not something that I go out of my way to do, or that I worry too much about, but it’s funny. Woods started singing a little bit of Sinatra, [sings] “We started with me, I did it my way.” That was the lesson that I learned when we started The New Day is that we did it our way. And I want the same for my singles work. There’s so many people who were telling us to fit inside a certain box, or to do things a certain way, or that we’ll never get over. But we felt we believed enough in our chemistry, we believed enough in our abilities, and we thought, “let’s do something different,” because, in my mind, you’re not really remembered, at least not remembered as fondly if you took away the parts of you that made you unique just to follow a [certain] path. I’ve taken a lot of pride in that, and not feeling any pressure to yield or to bend to what someone else’s imagination of who I should be is. I’m grateful for that, and I still want to continue to do that. It can sound cliche, “be true to yourself,” but that does mean something.
It’s one of those things that I think these days…again, that’s why I think it’s great for you to be in that role, because for a lot of people, just being true to you and staying true to you is one of the biggest lessons you can learn. Speaking of which, the last time we spoke, we spoke a lot about Our Heroes Rock!. What’s the latest with your project?
Oh, man. It’s exciting. It’s beyond exciting. Right now we’re in the production phase, and Jonathan [Davenport] and Andreas [Hale] are still working diligently on this, but we’re just really fine-tuning that script right now. Working through the storyboarding phase, flushing stuff out. It’s been so incredibly rewarding and just connecting with other people in the space and having the support of people like Matthew Cherry who’s done incredible things, who’s just continuing… He keeps pumping up directing something really cool. Every week, it seems like, he’s doing something cool. I love being able to kind of being in that space with other Black creators and drawing inspiration from where they tell stories. It’s been so incredibly rewarding and humbling. I’m surrounded by incredible people who have the same vision for our baby that I do, and we’re in a really good spot right now.