This Sunday, the latest episode of the documentary series WWE 24 was released on the WWE Network. The 29th edition of the award-winning series will chronicle the career of Big E, the current Intercontinental Champion and all-round fan favourite.
The episode tells the story of how Ettore Ewen went from being a promising college American football player blighted by injury, to a major wrestling superstar. The formerly named Big E Langston will outline how the injuries and mental challenges he faced spurred him on to pursue a dream in professional wrestling.
When the WWE 24 series focuses on an individual, they’re usually the cream of the crop for WWE. Names like Roman Reigns, Batista, Ronda Rousey and Edge have all had 24 episodes dedicated solely to them. The fact that Big E is now joining such names is obviously no guarantee of future stardom, however, it does appear to be a definitive statement of intent that he is someone with a huge future.
With the WWE 24 feature in mind, and in honour of his birthday, let’s take a look at why Big E is surely being primed for great singles success in WWE.
Three Ain’t Enough Man, I Need Five!
There’s one thing that nobody can take away from Big E, his accomplishments. I’m not sure about mathematical percentages, but I would suggest that Big E has been a champion in some form more often than not during his WWE career.
Let’s count the waves. As the second-ever NXT Champion, Big E is in some pretty elite company. Having defeated golden child Seth Rollins for the title in late 2012, E won the belt at a time where it was a clear indicator that you were being groomed for a future main event role. That idea was quickly given credence upon E’s transition to the main roster.
Debuting on Raw in December 2012, Big E attacked company face John Cena and aligned himself with Dolph Ziggler – becoming the ‘Show-off’s’ enforcer.
It was in this role that the still surnamed Langston would compete at his very first WrestleMania and pick up singles victories against the likes of Daniel Bryan, before eventually turning on Ziggler and becoming a fan favourite.
Langston was one of the very earliest NXT call ups and his work was rewarded when he became the Intercontinental Champion for the first time, just 11 months into his main roster run. The IC Title is generally regarded as the stepping stone to greatness in WWE, with many former champions going on to world title success.
He held the title for 167 days in a reign that could be considered lacklustre. I’m not sure that Big E really knew who he was and consequently, neither did we. Wade Barrett defeated Langston for the belt at Extreme Rules 2014, a loss which was swiftly followed by two straight PPV defeats to fellow NXT call up Rusev.
Whether awarding Langston the IC title was an early attempt to turn him into a main eventer is hard to say. However, after his title loss, E was in need of a serious direction change. In stepped Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods.
It’s A New Day, Yes it is!
I remember when The New Day was formed in 2014, I was disgusted. At the time it felt like pure laziness from WWE to take three guys with no direction and chuck them together. Other fans had similar feelings, regularly booing the trio despite their status as faces.
They were failing to connect and with no other ideas, the decision was made to turn the team heel. It was this decision that changed everything.
Twice winning the WWE Tag Team Championships, The New Day were receiving far more positive crowd reactions which would lead them to turn face once more. They would never look back, remaining three of WWE’s most enduring good guys to date.
As a trio, they would win tag team gold on 8 occasions, with their second reign being the legendary 483 days run with the Raw Tag Team Championships – the longest reign of any tag team in WWE history.
Big E has always been referred to as the powerhouse and jokester of the group, winning audiences over with his extrovert personality and wrestling strength. Having had a front-row seat to Kofi’s main event push in 2019, Big E bided his time and was able to strike a good balance of standing strong behind Kofi – but never falling into his shadow.
I always found it interesting watching New Day matches in their latter few years as so often it would be Kingston or Woods to be pinned in lost matches. Throughout the New Day run, I always felt that E was protected and rarely came off a loss looking any lesser than before.
It was only a matter of time before he’d have to go it alone and following the 2020 Draft, that is exactly what happened.
Big E – Don’t you dare be sour!
Modern-day tag teams in WWE usually have a pretty short shelf life, averaging a year or two with very few being given lengthy runs. The New Day trio lasted six years. Six. That is an astonishing amount of time and yet the three men never became stale, making slight changes during their run in order to keep our attention and affection.
All good things must come to an end however and during the 2020 Draft, Big E was drafted to SmackDown, leaving his fellow New Day comrades on Raw.
In the run-up to this, Woods and Kingston had been injured and we received a taste of a solo Big E during this time. He engaged in a feud with Sheamus, besting the Irishman at Payback and again in a Falls Count Anywhere match the following week.
Six years and it all came full circle. From losing back-to-back matches to Rusev prior to entering The New Day to defeating a former World champion Sheamus in back-to-back matches to see him out of The New Day.
A fresh start saw a new theme, new ring gear and new prospects for the solo Big E.
Wasting no time in making a mark, E defeated Sami Zayn for the Intercontinental Championship in late 2020 – receiving a confetti-filled post-match celebration, the likes of which are usually reserved for the biggest of names. He had won back the title that was primed to catapult his career seven years earlier.
His current status on SmackDown is that of an upper mid-card talent and that is absolutely fine when you see the job Roman Reigns is doing at the top. In a previous article I wrote for TWM I spoke of how Big E would have been a worthy alternative to Edge winning the Royal Rumble and that is something I stand by. The man is an extremely talented performer who is able to connect with audiences thanks to his effortless charm, humour and unique power – attributes that will see him stick around for a lot longer.
It’s hard to believe that Big E is in his ninth year as a WWE superstar. The man is already a Hall of Famer as a member of The New Day and, whilst the bulk of his nearly nine-year tenure with the company has been as a tag team wrestler, I feel that the best of Big E is still very much to come.
Our Heroes Rock!
Created by Ettore ‘Big E’ Ewen, award-winning artist and narrative designer Jonathan Davenport and award-winning sports and cultural historian Andreas Hale, “Our Heroes Rock!” has one simple goal, to create an educational vehicle that’s so visually and musically appealing that audiences would watch it regardless of the content.
Conceived as a hip-hop odyssey through Black History, “Our Heroes Rock!” is an animated series that shines a spotlight on history’s unsung Heroes of colour through infectious music, stunning 3D animation and a family-friendly, sci-fi-flavoured narrative designed to appeal to both parents and kids alike.
The aim of the project is to place American Heroes such as Medgar Evers, Ida B. Wells and Nina Simone in the same historical echelon reserved for George Washington, Thomas Edison and Neil Armstrong.
You can find that like to this Kickstarter for the pilot episode here, please show your support for this amazing initiative!