While the New Day are currently in the midst of a serious resurgence as the new and reigning NXT Tag Team Champions, winning the belts at Deadl1ne off of Pretty Deadly and successfully defending them for the first time on television against the duo of Brooks Jensen and Josh Briggs, the high-flying, fun-loving, Booty-Os hawking faction hasn’t quite been whole, as their biggest member, appropriately named Big E, has been on the shelf with a serious neck injury. Laid out on an episode of SmackDown by Brawling Brute Ridge Holland back in March, Big E suffered a broken neck with “fractures to his C1 vertebrae and C6 vertebrae,” according to ESPN, and had to begin serious physical therapy with no guarantee he’d ever wrestle again.
Asked by These Urban Times about how his recovery is going, Big E provided an update that should make fans very excited about the prospects of the New Day.
“I have to get some more scans at the one-year mark in March and we’ll see how everything is looking,” Big E said (h/t Fightful). “We’ll see from there. My C1 is broken in two spots, so we obviously have to be very smart about that. I was very fortunate. I want to make sure I’m making the best decision for myself. We’ll see in March. I feel great, I’m really thankful for that. I don’t have any nerve issues, no strength issues, no impairment whatsoever. Obviously, to get back in the ring to do what we do, I want to make sure my C1 is rock solid. Other than that, I’m very blessed. I feel great.”
Fortunately, Paul “Triple H” Levesque has found ways to keep Big E busy, as the former collegiate nose tackle for the University of Iowa has become a brand ambassador for WWE’s NIL program.
“It’s been fun for me because I resonate with it because I was a football player at Iowa with a bunch of injuries, my career was over, and I’m thinking now, ‘what do I do with my life?’ I was going to grad school, but I didn’t really feel fulfilled,” Big E said. “For me, I love being able to…I feel I can go back in time to 13 years ago and look at young men and women in a very similar position as me who are seeing the end of their college career. You spend so much of your time invested n your sport. So many of us, we play our sport since four, five, six years old. It’s all we know. You’re in school and working hard at that, but it’s something you love, and then it’s gone. For me, being in the ring wasn’t the same as playing football and having my hand in the dirt, but it still filled that athletic void. The ability to go out there and hit people and run and jump, I felt like a kid again, I felt free. For me, I love doing it because it’s an opportunity to reach out to college athletes and let them know, ‘WWE might not have been something on your radar or you might not have considered it, but I’m telling you, it changed my life dramatically.’ I’ve been able to travel the world, entertain people all across the globe, it’s an incredible experience. I love it because I love college sports and I resonate with college athletes. Being able to present this to them is something that connects with me.”
Could Big E’s next act be similar to that of Titus O’Neil, only with his attention placed on the next generation of professional wrestlers instead of the community? Could he transition into an on-camera but non-wrestling role, say something similar to what William Regal used to do in NXT? Either way, it’s clear WWE isn’t going to turn their backs on Big E even after suffering a career-threatening neck injury, which is nice to see, considering the New Day’s pedigree.
New Day haven’t forgotten about their fallen WWE friend in NXT.
Though Big E wasn’t at the Performance Center when his partners in crime, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods, won the NXT Tag Team Titles, in an interview with the ever-illuminating Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated, the duo currently operating under the New Day moniker still felt their friend with them when they held up the titles.
“Big E wasn’t here; but he was here,” says Kingston. “He’s always with us. We’re doing a lot of this in his honor. I woke up to a great text from him [Saturday] morning about our match. We’re in constant contact. We miss him, and without Big E, there is no New Day. We want him living a happy, healthy, safe life; and that’s what is paramount to us.”
“E’s the right and soul of all this,” adds Woods. “He’s always in our hearts and minds.”
Though fans haven’t been afforded a right-proper New Day run in some time, as Big E finally had his World Championship run, Woods became King, and Kingston continued to be one of the most compelling performers in the company, it’s clear the faction will go down as one of the best home-grown groups in WWE history and will have their names etched in the annals of the WWE Hall of Fame long after all three of their in-ring runs come to an end.