WWE Intercontinental champion Big E recently spoke with fellow superstar Samoa Joe for the new series “Grit and Glory,” where the New Day member discusses a number of different topics, including what led to his success with the company and how he, Xavier Woods, and Kofi Kingston pushed through the early struggles of the New Day to create one of the most popular groups of all time. Highlights are below.
Says finding his own voice was a big part of his success:
For me, it was a matter of finding my voice, of finding what felt authentic for me. I know for the first several years of my career, I thought I had to be the big tough guy/ But in a world where you have guys [that] were taller and bigger, that role was already filled. So, for me, it was a matter of finding like what feels authentic to you stands out and it was my time with New Day that allowed me to be free, to be uninhibited. And I just learned to trust myself, to trust my instincts and to be unafraid. And that’s what allowed me to still be here to have the career I have now.
How he fell in love with lifting weights at a young age:
I fell in love with the weight room at a young age. And I remember man.. I must have been somewhere around like eight or nine. I would watch my Saturday morning cartoons or whatever it was, and then during the commercial, I would sprint to the garage doing curls like that before I got tired, and I go back in and watch my show. And I tell you a hundred curls for the day but then I got to middle school. I was 12 years old and I got introduced to weight room and I fell in love. I was working them on. So, yeah man, that’s what allows me to be big. People say – ‘oh you’re not that tall.’ It’s not, it’s not tall yeah. It’s Big E, yeah thickness, and yeah, I got it.
Says he knew he wasn’t showing everything he could during early WWE run:
It was hard and it was frustrating for sure. Because I knew I had more to offer. I had only been maybe a year and a half into my run over on Smackdown, and I knew I had I just had not shown everything that I was capable of. And the biggest thing for me was just staying in the game. That’s one of the things I learned in developmental is, hey, you are gonna go through ups and downs in your career, but don’t take yourself out of the game. I don’t know what’s gonna come for me next. I don’t know what opportunities is gonna come. I don’t know what door is going to open. But stay in the game, keep working, keep training, keep being in the best shape you can be, and create those opportunities for yourself. And it worked out for me.
On the early struggles of the New Day:
Well for anyone who ended up watching during our early years… You know it was not easy at all. Tough start for sure. But we realized from early period and our time together that we had a special chemistry and special bond. But that a lot of that bond was really forged through the tough times. I’m trying to get this group off the ground, trying to get it on TV and we just had that mentality of like- hey, wwe got a sink or swim on our own marriage and I view it as this will be my final run here… This could be my last opportunity. So, I got to give it my all and I didn’t want my career to dissolve based on me passively accepting anything I was given if it didn’t feel right. So, I knew this was it. I knew this was something special and man we remember we were in Philadelphia, we got met with loud new day sucks chants. You’re supposed to be the good guys, were supposed to be the guys that are cheered and beloved. But people weren’t having it and you know what..All those times, I’m so grateful for. That’s what brought us closer together- the tough times. We didn’t quit. We didn’t say enough of this. We said – you know what, we’re going to get better. We’re going to work harder, going to give you more of ourselves. We will put more of this. And so if anything, it stroked our fire. It got us more excited. They got us more passionate about what we wanted to do, what we wanted to accomplish – and I don’t know we get this far without the value without the tough times.
On his Intercontinental championship win:
It was beautiful. It was a big moment for me because it kind of fulfilled the promise of when… you know.. when Kofi and Woods gave me their blessing that is split.. as bittersweet as it was, it was worth it. And that for me felt like not the moment that I made it and it’s time to coast, but the moment like Hey I am here to prove that this run is going to be meaningful. So, winning that meant a lot and obviously having the respect of your peers, as you know in this business, means everything. Man, adoration from the fans is what that you work for. But also, when you have people that you respect, worked 10, 15, 20 years in this business, and they come out and they say you killed it. You did your thing like that’s something that I’ll always treasure. And having that moment with the confetti pouring down on Christmas Day. Nonetheless, that’s something you don’t forget.
Full interview can be seen below.