Kofi Kingston was this week’s guest on E&C’s Pod of Awesomeness. Kingston opened up about the beginnings of The New Day and WWE CEO Vince McMahon’s reaction when The Power of Positivity stalled upon arrival. Highlights appear below.
(Transcription Credit: Michael McClead, WrestleZone)
Kingston On The Inception Of The New Day:
It was a whole process with the whole inception of The New Day. [Xavier] Woods and Big E came to me. They had the idea of forming a faction, like a group of guys who weren’t happy with their positions, and they ended up coming to me and asking me if I wanted to be a part of that. I was like, ‘Absolutely. 100%.’ I was at the point in my career where I was gonna be the happy go lucky guy that came out and did a few good moves, had a decent match and then probably ended up losing. That was my role that I was getting typecast into. It was getting boring for me and I know it was getting boring for a lot of members of the WWE Universe, so of course when they approached me with this idea I was like, ‘Yes, I’m on board. Thank you for asking me to do this.’
The more and more we started hanging out we realized we had a whole lot in common. We listened to the same music. We liked the same comedy. We watched a lot of the same shows. We had a lot of the same mindsets, three college graduates. We had a lot of the same experiences. We all wrestled amateur. We had a whole bunch in common and the chemistry was just there.
It got to the point where we were allowed to debut with the idea we wanted to, which was three guys that were disgruntled with their position with the company. [Kingston and Big E ended up losing a tag team match and Xavier Woods came out to ‘rile’ the two up]. He asked us if we were tired of losing and tired of where we were. The very next week we come out and watch a match. All of us were very serious and two weeks after that it was squashed because apparently, I don’t know, it hit too close to home or something. I’m not sure exactly why it was pulled, but we were off the air for a good six months and in that time, we were still trying to figure out what they wanted from us, so we were in and out of Vince’s office probably every week for a good 4-6 months. Every single week we were pitching ideas to him and he would want to tweak it and then we’d go and shoot some stuff on our off time. We would shoot skits and put them together. Woods would put them together on I-Movie and then we’d go and show those to him. He’d want to tweak it and do something else and we told him, ‘Whatever it is that you give us, we’re gonna make it work. We believe in our chemistry. We believe in what we have. We believe it’s very special, so give us something. Let us go out there and give us something.’
The very next week he came back at us and was like, ‘Yeah, I want you guys to be preachers. You preach positivity and get everyone to be their best selves.’ As we were listening to him pitch it, you thought that when we came out you thought that it wasn’t gonna work for us? Hearing it come out of his mouth, all of us are thinking the same thing and while he’s saying this all of us are nodding yes, but in our mind we’re just like, ‘Oh my God, not this.’ Who wants to go out there and do a pseudo-religious gimmick? In this day in age, that’s not what people come to a show to see. Nobody comes to be preached at, whether it’s positive or negative. That’s not what people want.
We came out there and they put a lot into it…..we shot our vignettes. They were all these gospel, motivational – you saw them, I’d rather not bring them back up, but the whole theme behind them was being together and positivity. Initially, when we came out people were glad we were doing something different. People were happy to see us in other roles, but within a week and a half, people were taking our New Day rocks clap and chanting, ‘New Day sucks,’ to the point where they were in the parking lots and chanting, ‘New Day sucks,’ on their horns and everything, beginning of shows. Anytime you’re getting people to react, it’s a good thing. We embraced the fact that people were hating us. That’s the direction we wanted to go anyway. We didn’t want people to like us, so we just kind of took the gimmick Vince gave us and we did it as hard as we could and that…ended up turning us.
On Vince McMahon’s Reaction To The Fans Hating Early New Day:
[The trio performed in Detroit and the crowd was so loud throughout the match that they met with Vince McMahon and said, ‘You’ve got to hear this.’] We talked to him the next week and he really thought that positivity gimmick was gonna be over with the crowd. He was very shocked that it didn’t get over with the crowd, but he couldn’t deny the reaction that was happening, so he actually let us be bad guys and it was the best thing in the world.
For me, I had never gotten to be a bad guy at any point in my career, so to be able to do it that way was really cool. I thought it was different. I thought it was unique for us to go out there and be hypocrites essentially preaching positivity and then being dastardly, or preaching save the tables and then trying to put someone through a table. It was a cool way to go out there and be a hypocrite. I think….we became so good at being bad that people started to like us, which is a reflection of our society. All we did is come out and tell people to be positive, be a better you, reach for the stars, and they booed us out of the building. Now, all of a sudden, we come in cheating, and being dastardly, and doing all these terrible things, and everyone’s like, ‘Yeah, that’s what I want to say. Go New Day! New Day rocks!’
It’s a special time and a special feeling, and Woods and E are my brothers, and I think the main thing behind New Day is that when you see us out there, you see us legitimately having fun and that’s real. We’re out there trying to entertain each other and by doing that people want to be a part of the party. They see us out there having fun preaching positivity. They want to have some pancakes too. They want some Booty O’s. Everyone wants to be a part of what’s fun. I think that’s the reason we were able to get over with the crowd. People come to WWE to be entertained. That’s what we do.
Kofi Kingston On The Inception Of The New Day, Vince's Reaction