BOSTON–Greater than every week has handed since Day 1, offering Big E time to replicate on his first run as WWE champion.
“I needed it to be a five-course meal, and it was extra of an appetizer,” Ettore “Big E” Ewen says. “I’m overly essential of my work to start with, so I wouldn’t say I used to be proud of it. My hope was to knock it out of the park, and I fell a bit quick. So it’s motivating to start out that climb again.”
Solely a month in the past, Big E’s reign as WWE champion had simply begun to take form.
Embroiled in a feud with Seth Rollins, Big E had discovered the suitable opponent, one he might construct a signature second with as champion. The story constructed to a match eventually week’s Day 1 pay-per-view, which was quickly was a triple risk with Kevin Owens—who additionally shared actual chemistry with Big E—after which modified to a four-way with the addition of Bobby Lashley. Though there is no such thing as a higher setting than one-on-one, this immediately turned an opportunity for Big E to indicate resilience and perseverance towards three elite opponents, offering him a chance to achieve the following step in his ascent as champion.
“Initially, it was purported to be me and Seth,” Ewen stated. “Seth was named the No. 1 contender early, so we had a while, and that’s after I wrestled Kevin. That labored out very well, so he acquired added to the match, after which so did Bobby. So what it turned was a lot totally different than what it was purported to be.”
Roman Reigns examined constructive for COVID-19, eradicating any chance he would wrestle Brock Lesnar on the present. However Lesnar discovered a match shortly.
“I acquired to the constructing considering we had been going to have our four-way,” Ewen stated. “I didn’t find out about Roman being unavailable till that afternoon, a number of hours earlier than the present. That threw a wrench into our match, as effectively as ripple results to Uncooked and SmackDown.”
Lesnar was moved into the WWE title match, making it a winner-take-all five-way. Introduced as a conquering hero, he pinned Big E to crown himself new champion. Amid the celebration, Lesnar shortly started a brand new feud with Lashley. An extended-awaited Lesnar-Lashley program, as effectively as the verbal sparring between Paul Heyman and MVP, provides ample motive for pleasure. However for the massive portion of the fan base that relished each second of Big E as champion, there’s a mammoth query mark as to what’s going to occur subsequent.
Talking at WWE’s stay occasion in Boston on Sunday, Ewen sat backstage earlier than the beginning of the present. Hours earlier than teaming up with the Viking Raiders in the principle occasion towards Reigns and The Usos, he had already labored out earlier than slipping right into a Nike sweatsuit and his Iowa Hawkeyes winter cap. He was requested about his future—will he emerge as a challenger for Lesnar? Or be forged in a brand new position, distanced from the world title?
“I’m not comfy being only a man on the roster,” Ewen stated. “I’m not good with going again to the way in which it was earlier than.”
If Big E’s present state of affairs sounds acquainted, it’s as a result of an identical state of affairs occurred to his shut buddy and New Day accomplice Kofi Kingston.
After a six-month WWE title run, Kingston dropped the belt unceremoniously to Lesnar on SmackDown in October 2019. As a substitute of a rematch towards Lesnar, Kingston was instantly transitioned again into the tag-team scene. He ultimately made a push for the title in July 2021, the place he misplaced to Lashley at Cash within the Financial institution. Regardless of his expertise, charisma and brilliance within the ring, Kingston has by no means once more been WWE champion.
May that additionally grow to be the destiny of Big E?
“I don’t wish to place it as studying from Kofi’s missteps,” Ewen says. “I do know what his intentions had been, and mine would have been the identical. He didn’t do something unsuitable. However I’ve discovered that dropping this title hurts.
“I really like being myself and being entertaining, however you’ll be able to’t go from dropping a world championship to saying every thing is golden. This title meant quite a bit to me, and it meant to lots of people, too. My focus is clawing again to that spot.”
Since successful the title in Boston in September, Big E has grow to be a face of the WWE model. As champion, he highlighted WWE on various totally different platforms, together with MLB Community’s Film Room, popular syndicated radio show The Breakfast Club, the “Just One Question” section on The Late Present with Stephen Colbert, and the NFL Community’s Good Morning Football. He additionally performed a task within the seminal Tyson Fury–Deontay Wilder boxing bout along with his introductions, as effectively as made an look on Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff throughout school soccer season.
Getting a style of representing WWE as its champion has solely made Ewen hungrier for one more alternative to redefine these roles and duties.
“There’s a lot that comes with being WWE champion, and I took lots of delight in that,” Ewen stated. “Occurring Breakfast Membership and doing media all through the nation, I do know all the great that got here with this and every thing we had been in a position to do exterior the ring. And there may be a lot extra to perform.”
One of many extra enduring moments from Day 1 was Big E sitting exterior the ring, sporting an actual look of ache and devastation on his face. Professional wrestling is usually mocked as pretend, however that second—a dejected champion who had simply misplaced his title—felt actual.
“I’d be mendacity if I stated I wasn’t disenchanted to see it finish that approach,” Ewen stated. “And it’s not something towards Brock. Brock is a really particular athlete, human and performer. There isn’t any disgrace in dropping to Brock Lesnar.
“I took a second to soak within the unhappiness. The highs of successful, like at Cash within the Financial institution or cashing in, these are unbelievable. However the lows suck, too. And that’s motivation to gasoline me.”
It’s now merely a hypothetical, however had Lesnar not been inserted into the match, it’s attainable Big E would nonetheless be champion.
“I by no means heard a end [for the four-way],” Ewen stated. “When it turned a four-way, particularly one so loaded, something was a chance. However I hadn’t heard something a few end.”
The one certainty for a champion is that the belt will ultimately be dropped. In a roundabout method, dropping the title to Lesnar might be the very best state of affairs for Big E. Already established as a world champion, he can now unveil an edge and depth in his work. And with the Royal Rumble just a few weeks away, the timing is opportune. If Big E can generate a groundswell of assist over the following few weeks, there may be each motive to imagine he might be the final man standing within the famed Royal Rumble match.
“Profitable the Rumble could be unbelievable,” Ewen stated. “That’s in St. Louis at an excellent venue in The Dome, and it will be an actual second.
“That is my probability to indicate one other facet of me. It’s time to show up the depth. My position with The New Day is so typically comedic reduction, however I don’t wish to be one-dimensional. I wish to be as well-rounded and as complete a performer as attainable.”
Big E’s prospects are limitless, particularly as champion. There was no pageantry or pyro throughout Big E’s title run—however a second run, with The New Day beside him, could be a special and dynamic presentation. But, to be able to rewrite historical past, he’s going to want to generate important momentum to thrust himself again into the thick of the title image.
“I’m very grateful for my title run, however I nonetheless have much more to show,” Ewen stated. “I wish to set up myself as one of many guys of this period, so my purpose is to construct a number of reigns.
“There’s a lot extra I must do with that title. We’re simply getting began, and that is my probability to start out my climb again.”
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Justin Barrasso can be reached at [email protected]. Comply with him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.