Sunday 15 March 2015

The E in WWE

A couple of years ago Big E (then Langston) looked like he was going somewhere. After a successful run in NXT, including a stint as champion which began when he dethroned Seth Rollins, he debuted on the main roster at the end of 2012. Working as Dolph Ziggler's enforcer he was at 'The Show Off's' side in a tag match at WrestleMania XXIX and got to share the spotlight with him the following night on RAW when he cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase and defeated Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight championship to a thunderous ovation.

An all too early split from Ziggler proved a setback but it didn't last too long. Big E would turn face in October and wrestle Shield member Dean Ambrose for the US championship. He didn't win that belt but he would take the Intercontinental championship from Curtis Axel (yeah, Axel was IC champ, sorry for reminding you of that traumatic experience) weeks later.

Big E and a giant yellow LEGO brick there.
While he didn't have an incredible reign even by modern standards Big E did have some good matches during his time as IC kingpin. His defence against Damien Sandow at the TLC pay-per-view at the end of 2013 was fun, his match with former boss Ziggler on the March 25 Main Event was better than expected, and his match with Jack Swagger at Elimination Chamber was one of the best matches of the year. No real thought was put into Big E's reign but he showed that he was capable of producing a level of match that could make his title mean something.

After losing the championship to Bad News Barrett on May 4 at Extreme Rules Big E got nothing to do until July. After losing a tag match he and partner Kofi Kingston were confronted by an angry Xavier Woods, who heelishly told the pair they should start taking. This angle was the beginning of The New Day faction. It wasn't until November that the creative team decided what they wanted the unit to be, at which point they were officially reintroduced to TV.

Unfortunately for Big E, Kingston and Woods what the creative team wanted them to be was a generic mid-card group. They became evangelists, wearing outfits of matching colour and singing with a choir. At the time I thought it had potential. Truth be told I still do. But true to form the writing team have taken the most basic route possible with the group, giving the characters no layers, no feuds, and little material to work with beyond the initial concept. After three months that's not enough.

As the man with the most singles potential in the group Big E would probably benefit from being split off on his own at this point. Woods looks like a jobber while Kingston has been knocking around the middle of the card for so long that it should be clear to everyone he's never going to progress further. Keeping E linked to them can only take him down to their level.

It would be nice if WWE not only split Big E away from the group but did so with an actual story and used the opportunity to do something about Big E's character at the same time. The most obvious thing would be to play on the established difference in Woods' and Bigster's characters. Woods initially got The New Day together  by saying they should take, which is classic disgruntled mid-carder fare. Even when he was a heel Big E has always been a character who's pretty laid back and has a sense of humour about himself and what he does for a living. There's a natural conflict between this laid back approach and Woods' entitled outlook.

A divide could appear between the two, Woods becoming  increasingly aggressive and Big E not approving of the change. Kofi could be stuck in the middle and be gradually won over by Woods' rhetoric. Big E could eventual snap and leave them to work as a regular tag team while he resumes his singles career. This could either be an amicable split or something that takes in a pay-per-view or featured TV match. The match approach would probably be better as it would give three guys something to do and create a match that people have a reason to care about on RAW.

Honma. A good-lookin' lad.
Whether we got Big E versus Kingston or Woods or Kingston and Woods or not Big E would be freed up for a gimmick refresh. I like the idea of him being remodelled on New Japan's Tomoaki Honma. He wears colourful tights, uses a lot of headbutts and goes for his finisher as soon as matches begin. Big E could throw a convincing headbutt and I'm sure he could splash out on some new singlets. Honma tends to wear red and yellow (presumably as a nod to Hulk Hogan, for whatever reason) but adds peculiar illustrations. Big E could get some primary coloured stuff made up with pop culture imagery on it. It would be different to what most people in WWE wear. Standing out in that way would give people someone to latch onto, and if people watching RAW need anything it's something to latch onto.

Being visually different is rarely a bad thing in wrestling. The same goes for having a distinctive move set, and while headbutts are simple they're also not something anyone else in WWE is currently noted for using. Big E wouldn't necessarily need to win all the time, or even often, but putting him by himself with some things to set him apart could, in time, help him get over. The slow route is what seems to earn the respect of fans these days. Why not put some promising guys in positions to take it?

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