Big E recently joined Samoa Joe as the first guest of the new WWE series: Grit and Glory. He talked about his Intercontinental Championship win, the formation of New Day, his love for the weight room, and more. Here is the transcript from the interview. You can also watch the full interview at the end of the transcript.
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Samoa Joe: Now every WWE Superstar needs to have grit. And you, by far, is one of our most popular WWE Superstars. But that was no overnight success. So, what did it take for you to kind of persevere and get to level?
Big E: 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.
Joe: So, Big E moniker that you carry proudly, put it at the front of your name… Some would say you got rid of the rest of the letters and your name just to make room for it. Now being big after you said that you know that carries a little bit of a reputation with it. So, when did you start to notice that you were developing this physical toughness that is a trademark of who you are today?
Big E: Men, 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.
Joe: Now, no superstar’s career is without its pitfalls. And after the first time you had lost the Intercontinental Championship, many would say, and even you would admit, that at the time not much is going on for you. You were kind of at an impasse and trying to figure out where to go next. And it’s during these tough times that when you say that you know true grit and toughness, or if when it’s at it’s premium when it’s most important. Give us an insight mentally and what it took for you to get through you know those try to persevere and find success again.
Big E: 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.
Joe: The same grit that ou got yourself, and it worked out for me. Now the same grit that propels you to success now in the WWE. Some would say that grit was one that was common and shared amongst your fellow members of the New Day. Give us an insight in how the New Day had come together and how you know even they had to persevere very very tough times, in the beginning, the height and the success and the record-breaking championship runs they’ve had thus far.
Big E: 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.
Joe: So, grit is not without its rewards and recently you have won your second Intercontinental Championship. Very rare occurrence- the locker room emptied and hoisted you up on their shoulders and celebration. Describe that moment for us.
Big E: 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.