The New Day are the most decorated tag team in the current era, but it took a plea from Xavier Woods to get them to where they're at today.
Appearing on Booker T's Heated Conversations podcast, Woods went into detail on how New Day came together, starting from his initial conversations with Big E and Kofi Kingston.
I knew I wanted to do some sort of group because we were kind of working on it in developmental way, way back. I talked to (Big) E and we said, 'We need a third, it's not going to be good as a tag team,'" Woods recalled. "So I said, 'Maybe we should talk to Kofi.' He was like, 'Kofi has been doing his thing. He's the consummate babyface. He loves his stuff.' I said, 'Let's try.' We weren't super close with him, but I pitched him the idea and he said, 'Yeah, I'd love to do something different.'"
With Big E and Kofi on board, Woods needed to take his idea to Vince McMahon. Their plan was to pitch Vince on doing something different from your stereotypical black wrestler.
"We went to Vince and we explained to him, 'Hey, we feel like there's a certain archetype of black wrestlers. You're either the foreign black wrestler, the big strong black wrestler, or the dancing black wrestler. We want to try and break that and do something else.' He said, 'Ok, cool.' We went back-and-forth, cut promos and pre-tapes, brought them to Vince and did that back-and-forth for months. He let us start working on house shows together to get the chemistry down," said Woods. "One day he sits us down and says, 'Hey, I got it. You'll have a gospel choir behind you and you'll come out clapping and making people feel good.' We were like, '....Wait....Wait....Hold on.' He referenced something called 'Up With People,' it's like a traveling positivity group. They would put on show and be uplifting. From the early '70s I think. He had us watch that and we were like, 'Ok, we get it.' But I felt like personally, and we told him this, this day and age, people are gonna boo that. They don't like white meat -- excuse me -- they don't like dark meat babyfaces."
While the meeting didn't go as they had planned, Vince gave the group the greenlight to move forward. Initially, their music was supposed to be gospel out of the 1920s. Woods got Vince to change his mind after requesting their music sound something closer to Stomp by Kirk Franklin.
With the group formed and their music set, all that was left was for them to debut.
"We debuted on Black Friday -- it keeps getting better. Obviously we had the vignettes before and I think people were trying to get an idea of what it was because it was so different from that initial promo when I came out and talked to the both of them. We appeared on TV and 95 percent of the people were like, 'No, we hate this.' But, at least they weren't silent," noted Woods. "This is what we thought was going to happen, that people weren't going to like it. Now we just gotta convince them to let us turn."
The turn didn't happen overnight. Instead, it happened when Vince wasn't even around. During an overseas tag team match with Tyson Kidd and Cesaro, a loud "New Day sucks" broke out in the middle of the match. Woods explained that they changed the layout on the fly, switching from babyfaces to heels. Once they got back to the states, Woods went to Vince with his plea.
"Came back from overseas and told Vince about it. He was like, 'I don't know. I don't think they'll ever boo Kofi.' I think it was the next week I went in and talking to him and was like, 'I strongly believe we can do this. If you give me a microphone, four weeks straight, I can make them boo Kofi Kingston,'" said Woods. "And he goes, 'And if you don't?' I said, 'You have 70 dudes in NXT ready to take my spot and I shouldn't be here.' And he goes, 'You believe in this that much?' I said, '100 percent.' He said, 'Ok, we can try it out.' After the third week, they started to boo Kofi a little bit. Vince came and gave us the head nod. And we were off from there."
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Woods and the New Day are not only the reigning and defending SmackDown Tag Team Champions, but they are the longest reigning Tag Team Champions in WWE history.