By The Unemployed Booker, Staff Writer
You know the saying “All good things must come to an end.” It supposedly was coined by a guy named Geoffrey Chaucer in 1374. It’s a simple and widely known phrase, but most importantly, a true one. I admit that I wasn’t a big fan of The New Day when WWE first put them together, but over time they grew on me. They went on to be the longest running tag team champions in WWE history. I’m not sure I agree with booking that, but alas, that puts them into the discussion of greatest tag teams in history, in the WWE at least. Just like almost every great tag team in history, they eventually need to have a falling out, and split up. Since it’s happened SO many times in wrestling history, we have to get quite creative when it comes to booking their split. The last thing we want is for it to feel like every other dissolution in the annals of time.
There’s a long list of break ups over the storied history of wrestling, many of which have used the same storyline repeatedly over the years. Therefore, we can’t just have Big E throw Kofi through the window of The Barber Shop (though we could have him super kick him through a window because, contrary to popular belief, that’s not actually been done before, but I digress). The key to good booking isn’t always coming up with an original idea; often it is tweaking an old idea to make it work with your current superstars and the situations that are already in place. Lucky for us, the WWE had already planned a “superstar shake up” that we can use to cause the initial split. That’s obviously been used many times before, but how we tweak each character after the split is what will set this divorce apart. During the selection/re-draft of the superstars we send Big E to SmackDown while Kofi and Xavier stay behind on RAW. We use the post-show RAW Talk to have an over emotional separation between Big E and what’s left of the New Day, Xavier and Kofi. This promo should work great since I know this kind of acting is right in their wheelhouse. Once the over dramatized segment is done, Big E gets into his car, and his look of sadness, almost to a comedic level, now turns to anger. He speeds off towards his new home on SmackDown.
The next week on RAW we put The New Day into a match with the champs, but it’s obvious from the start that they aren’t the same team anymore. Several miscues and lack of teamwork lead to an easy victory for The Hardys. The announcers focus on how the New Day seem out of sync. After the match, you have the two console each other. Obviously, they’ll be okay, but it’s going to take some time to get used to working without their partner. Again, the announcers need to be sure to sell this so everyone understands that the New Day are going to continue to be a team on RAW.
The next night on SmackDown we see Big E make his debut with the brand. Daniel Bryan catches Big E in the hallway and calls the big guy into his office. Daniel Bryan then acknowledges that Big E looks upset, but tells him, “I’ve got huge plans for the best member of the former longest-reigning, and dare I say, greatest tag team in history! All we have to do now is find you a new partner. It’s a new New Day!” He goes on to say, “I think I have found you the perfect partner. It’s someone with tons of tag team experience. He also happens to be a former tag team champion just like you, big guy! He’s looking for a new partner and he’s kind of eccentric just like the New Day was.” The GM gets really excited to announce, “Your new partner is former NXT tag team champion Aiden English, and tonight you have your first match against Breezango!” Big E looks unamused and doesn’t say anything. Once it’s time for his match, Big E’s entrance begins the same as the New Day, but this time it is just him walking out while the New Day’s music plays. He does none of the normal New Day antics. Aiden English comes out with him and tries to mimic the New Day’s entrance moves, but Big E refuses to join him. He even pretends to play an invisible trombone, but Big E still looks stoic and very troubled. The match begins with Big E in the ring and he has an easy time with Tyler Breeze. English begins asking for a tag but Big E seems to not notice. As the match goes on, Aiden English continues to ask for the tag and for most of the match Big E doesn’t notice, even after several tags between Fandango and Tyler Breeze. Then as he is on the verge of victory, he sees Aiden asking for the tag, but refuses to give it to him. He finishes off Breezango by himself and as the New Day’s music plays, he walks back to the locker room showing no elation for the dominating performance he just displayed. Once in the back, English confronts Big E. He goes full heel in their argument. He gets in Big E’s face and yells at him, “I gave up on The Vaudevillians for you! I went out there to try to be your partner. I’m ten times the wrestler those wimps from the New Day were. You should have been glad you had me!” At this point a very upset Big E grabs Aiden English and throws him up and over his shoulder. Then he delivers a running power slam right through a sheet rock wall! Big E then gets up and stands over a broken Aiden English. The announcers comment that the move should have hurt Big E also but he completely no sells the pain. He stands there still very stoic and showing no ill effects of going through a wall. EMTs rush in and Big E still stands there with no emotions. As Aiden English is being tended to by paramedics, Big E shakes his head as if he didn’t really want that to happen and then he punches another hole in the wall as he walks away, obviously very upset with how things are going. The announcers mention how this isn’t the fun-loving Big E we are used to seeing. The split has obviously taken its toll on his emotions.
The next week on RAW, we see the New Day training. They are trying to figure out how to be a good team without Big E. Xavier suggest trying to find a replacement for Big E, but Kofi shuts down the thought immediately. He says, “You can’t replace Big E!” The segment ends with an optimistic Kofi and a frustrated Xavier.
Week two on SmackDown shows Daniel Bryan talking to Big E in his office. He apologizes to Big E for trying to put him with Aiden English. He then says, “Aiden didn’t embrace the power of positivity like the New Day, but he better start or he’s not going to get out of that hospital bed any time soon.” This gives Aiden English time off camera and sets up the premise that a character change is likely coming for him down the road. It also gives us a foreshadowing of who he will be when he returns. He can become a changed man from the hospital bed, no longer a Vaudevillian since his partner has been released from the company. It actually provides us with a whole new story arc to work with in the future. It’s never a bad idea to use feuds and storylines congruent with others, but back to the topic at hand. Big E tells Daniel Bryan “I don’t want a partner. I would prefer to be left alone before I get really angry.” The SmackDown general manager then proceeds to tell Big E that tonight he has a tag match against the SmackDown tag team champions The Usos! He then asks, “Are you sure you don’t want a chance to be one half of the SmackDown tag team champions, big guy?” Big E looks as if he’s reconsidering, then responds with nothing but a bland “Ok,” and he turns to walk out of the room. Daniel Bryan yells, “Hey! Don’t you want to know who your partner is?” Big E stops and looks back. Daniel Bryan, looking like he’s scared of Big E now, but he gathers himself up and says, “Your new partner is going to be none other than the winner of the Andre The Giant Battle Royal, Mojo Rawley.” Once it’s time for the match the New Day’s music plays for Big E, but again he just walks straight to the ring. None of the usual Big E antics. Mojo hits the ring and does his usual things trying to get Big E hyped up. During the match, they have several missed tags and other mistakes. Each time Mojo, ever the optimist, tries to work past it and get Big E hyped. Each time though, Big E looks more and more upset. After a good back and forth match, Big E and Mojo get the momentum and look like they might have a victory before another mistake derails them. Eventually, Big E has enough of the Hype Brother antics and, as one of the Usos whips Mojo into the ropes, Big E hits him in the back with a chair. This gives the Usos the advantage needed to get the win. After the match, Mojo grabs a mic and asks for Big E to wait up. He stumbles up the ramp to catch Big E before he goes behind the curtain. He turns Big E around and says, “Hey big guy, I’m sorry man. I screwed up in there. I’ll take the blame. That’s on me, bro. Let’s work this out. With the power of positivity and all the hype, we’ll be champs in no time. What do you say big guy?” He extends his hand to to Big E, but E doesn’t accept it. He gives Mojo a kick to the mid-section and delivers a power bomb off the stage,Ccnfirming his full heel turn.
The next week on RAW Xavier and Kofi have a match against Anderson and Gallows. This time Kofi goes over the game plan with Xavier. Kofi continues to reassure Xavier that they can still be successful as a team. You can see doubt on Xavier’s face but Kofi continues to reassure him that they can win. The New Day have a good match at first, but then Xavier is on the outside playing the trombone when Kofi tries to make a tag. This leads to an Anderson and Gallows victory. After the match, Kofi confronts Xavier about not sticking to the game plan. As Kofi’s anger rises and it looks like he’s about to hit Xavier, Xavier instead hits Kofi with the trombone. From there he proceeds to beat down Kofi. After the beat down, Xavier takes the mic and says, “It’ll never be the same!! No matter what you try to do Kofi, it’s over! The New Day is through! Wake up! You’ll never be as good as Big E.” The segment ends with Xavier looking mad in the ring.
From here you have two solid storylines to branch from. The Kofi vs Xavier storyline will continue with Xavier claiming Kofi will never be good enough and Kofi fighting to prove himself against a heel Xavier. As for Big E, you book him as a monster heel who can’t be stopped until he runs into your top babyface, who overcomes the odds to beat him. Honestly, you could put the belt on him at some point before allowing the underdog babyface to overcome the odds and get the title back. As for Kofi and Xavier, it’s an easy story line of Xavier giving up on the team then claiming he was held back by Kofi and Kofi fighting his brother though he doesn’t want to. You build sympathy for Kofi and hatred for Xavier. Then somewhere down the road they can reconcile and reform the New Day, since it was the person in charge that caused them to split in the draft, and nothing came between them that they can’t overcome with the power of positivity. That’s the key to great booking. Yes, you make plans six months or up to a year in advance, but you always leave room to adjust things to appease the audience, or, God forbid, in case you end up with an injury. Always put versatility into your booking just in case. If you look back on my time in booking and creative, you’ll see that most of my storylines weave nicely into other stories that running through the created wresting world within the company, and they always have numerous ways they can end. That gives you options down the road and leaves room to surprise the audience. One thing lacking in the sport today, especially in the WWE, is the ability to shock or surprise the audience. That missing element is really holding the company back, but what do I know?