If you’re not familiar, The New Day is a professional wrestling stable with the WWE consisting of Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods. Hard to believe now, but they debuted more than six years ago on July 21, 2014, and officially on Nov. 28, 2014. Originally, the New Day was pushed as an unironic power of positively gospel-like stable. As in, they were genuinely preaching the “power of positively,” as what we call “white meat babyfaces.” And the crowd didn’t buy it at all, and booed New Day.
Then the cycle was to lean further into it and become bad guys until inevitability, over time, the crowd loved them and they became babyfaces the crowd adored and still adores years later.
New Day have talked about this, but all three guys were floundering in one way or another prior to the formation of New Day. Big E was a single’s star, but had never given the opportunity to show his massive charisma or personality, only his muscles. Xavier Woods debuted as a sidekick with Ron Killings, aka, R-Truth, and didn’t seem to have a high ceiling. Little did we know how great he was on the microphone at the time. And Kofi Kingston, the veteran of the group, had been with the company since 2008, and aside from a blip in the main event scene in 2009, had never really gotten a true push to the top of the card.
The New Day gave all of them direction and purpose and a new identity. But it also gave them a bond. That’s what I want to talk about today. There’s a separate post to be made about what a lot of people rightly discuss as it regards New Day. That being the black representation and black success in a traditionally white-dominated profession. That three black men were able to take something that seemed destined to be a mid-card act at best, and turn it into one of the longest running over (with the crowd) stables of all time, as 10-time tag team champions, and with the longest tag team reign ever in WWE at 483 days? They’re ground-breakers in myriad ways, but again, to a lot of people rightly, particularly on that front.
However, that bond is something that doesn’t get talked about as much, and it struck me while watching their promo together in the final appearance of the New Day on WWE SmackDown Oct. 16 (because of the annual WWE draft, Xavier and Kofi were drafted to WWE Monday Night Raw, and Big E was drafted to SmackDown, effectively splitting New Day for the first time, albeit thankfully without any animosity or nefariousness involved):
There you have three world class athletes, who have pages of accolades between them, and they are openly, proudly crying and discussing their male friendship. Both as men and as black men in particular, to openly and proudly celebrate friendship in that way is, in my eyes, revelatory and courageous.
I’m 30-years-old. Within my lifetime growing up, it was still commonplace to preface any sort of affection or friendliness shown to your male friends with, “No homo.” As if it’s gay to have a positive, healthy and platonic relationship with another male. It was both fear of being seen as gay, and insecurity at addressing those real, positive feelings.
In general, men have a hard time expressing emotions, and I’m not immune to this by any stretch. But also, men have a hard time showing their emotion for other men. “No homo” might not be said anymore, but it still seems to live on in the background of those relationships.
This was also salient recently with some faux-macho conservative Twitter hack presenting a picture of Democratic nominee for president Joe Biden with his son, Hunter Biden, kissing him on the cheek, as if there was anything wrong with a father showing his son affection.
A different conservative, Charlie Sykes, pushed back and said, “Empathy is manly. Being willing to admit that you were wrong is manly. Being a loving father is manly.”
And back to the New Day, talking positively, affectionately, and openly about positive male friendships is manly and beautiful, and something we should be more willing to do, and again, I include myself in that. It’s hard. Openly crying is hard. Telling a friend you love them is hard. But what a message it sends for New Day to have presented that for these last six years.
In that way, and with representation, and the entertainment side of things, New Day’s contributions to professional wrestling and what it means to be a professional wrestler in the modern era and more importantly, what it means to be a man have been profound, and surely, that influence is going to be felt for years and years to come, both in and out of the ring.
Thank you, New Day.
What do you think? Are we still at a place where talking openly about male friendships is seen as difficult? What does it mean to be a “man” in today’s world?