Former WWE Intercontinental and NXT Champion Big E was on a recent episode of the WWE After The Bell podcast where he discussed his new singles push as Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods were drafted to RAW. Big E also spoke on the dynamic between the members of The New Day where Big E earned a tryout with WWE due to his physical physique whereas Kingston and Woods faced many challenges to fulfill their dreams to become pro wrestlers.
"I always love when we do media," Big E stated. "Kofi and Woods, they'd tell these stories of always wanting to be wrestlers, how they scratched and clawed and for years and years, the doors were slammed in their faces, and they were told they're too small and they'll never make it. And they finally fought through, and they did it and they lived out these childhood dreams. And I follow with this horrible story of just some former meathead and someone just throws this job out. 'Hey, you want a tryout?' I guess. I don't know.
"It's such a horrible story because people love the Kofi and Woods stories of always wanting to do something, and that's so many of the stories of people that we work with in our business. Those are the stories that I love. Those are stories that I gravitate to because it's inspiring to hear that someone has always wanted to do something, and they overcame the odds as opposed to some jackass who used to work out a lot and had some muscles and was just thrown this opportunity."
Corey Graves asked who else has been an influence to Big E other than Kingston and Woods. Big E named Curt Hawkins for helping him come up with his finisher, The Big Ending.
"There's been a lot of people along the way, just people who've been there, who've helped me like Curt Hawkins. When I was super green, my only finisher I've ever used is The Big Ending, and I remember Curt Hawkins gave that to me," Big E revealed. "This had to be in 2009. It was called The Body Bag, and he showed it to me. I forgot how we came up with The Big Ending. I remember Darren Young getting in the ring with me a little bit, showing me how to gorilla press."
Big E then highlighted former NEXUS member Michael Tarver as someone that has meant a lot to him in his career. Big E admitted that he was never a natural in the ring, and he credits Tarver for giving him the confidence in the ring and for helping him understand the psychology of pro wrestling.
"Michael Tarver meant so much to me and my career because I remember there was a point where I was real green, and he was a guy who was ready to go up," Big E recalled. "He was seasoned, and I was probably only a year or so into the business. I was not like a Chad Gable or a [Kurt] Angle, a guy who just picked it up immediately. It took me a while to pick things up, and I remember Tarver and I, we were just kind of married.
"I think we had like six consecutive matches, these little spot shows, and I remember he would just sit down with me and talk to me about psychology and not just in a broad sense, but the way he perceived me. He was like, 'man, I see you kind of like as a Black Superman,' and at the time, no one else was giving me that sense of confidence.
"No one else was was talking to me in that way and he helped me just think of the way I want to portray my character, the way I need to go out in the ring, the stuff between the moves that means so much, and that was the first time where I really got to think of my character in this kind of holistic sense. So I always give Tarver so much thanks. I see him from time to time in the gym in Tampa, and I always tell him how much he meant to my career."
Big E also highlighted Joey Mercury and Fit Finlay for helping him come up with his signature moves. He noted that Samoa Joe was not signed with WWE at the time, so Mercury came up with the idea for Big E to use the corner Uranage, and Finlay was the one who suggested Big E use the apron spear.
"About a decade ago, Doctor Tom [Prichard], as you know, obviously, meant a lot to my career," Big E stated. "Just a guy who needed the basics and just the way we drilled the fundamentals over and over again. Even Joey Mercury too man. I gotta give him a lot of props because Mercury was the one guy--I feel like I had a very basic move set, and Mercury was one guy who just kind of helped fine-tune things.
"At the time, Samoa Joe wasn't with the company, so he's like, 'ah, we'll just steal Joe's corner Uranage.' So it was that and a couple of other things that he helped fine-tune me, and Fit Finlay was the ones who said, 'hey, you do that that running shoulder in the corner. Why don't you try it with a guy on the apron to the floor?' So Fit Finlay was the one who came up with the idea for the apron spear, but I'm really thankful. There's been a lot of people along the way who for some reason or another, just kind of put their hand on me and gave me some advice or gave me something."
Big E also commented on the state of the WWE locker room. He remarked at how he enjoys being around everyone in the locker room and how the days of "paying your dues" is long gone.
"I don't know if you remember, of course you remember, how the locker room was when you first started compared to how it is now, but I feel like we have an incredible group of men and women," Big E expressed. "I look out, and I have so many people that I genuinely enjoy seeing right, so I'm grateful for that because when I first started in the business, I heard so many horror stories about having to pay your dues, people kicking you out of the locker room.
"I feel like a lot of that culture has changed, and I'm grateful for the fact that I get to work with my close friends in The New Day. I get to work with a bunch of people that I genuinely enjoy, and we get to be kids for a living. I never had to grow up. It's ridiculous. I never had to grow up man."
Big E is reportedly set for a big singles push following the WWE Draft. He was asked which opponents he is most looking forward to on SmackDown.
"Rollins and I, we've had singles matches before. Obviously, we've done some stuff with The Shield [and] pre-New Day actually, and I'd love to do stuff with Rollins," Big E said. "I still think he's one of the best in the world. He has an incredible resume. It's hard. I often look around for new blood, and I wish there was a bit more.
"It's interesting in a company as large as ours sometimes, I don't know why our roster still seems small at times. We also have a list of how many singles guys are on SmackDown, and I look at the list sometimes like that's it? We have 250 people or whatever it is under contract in this company, but I'm sure there's someone really dope that I'm missing.
"We did something with Undisputed Era very quickly at Survivor Series, and to me, my timing is horrible for this, but I always loved faction stuff. So I want to do stuff with another faction in Undisputed Era, and those are those are guys who have been around for a long time together as a collective too. So I would love to just do stuff with them even though we're no longer a faction, so my timing really sucks there, but that's kind of what I've always wanted to do for a while with those guys."
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit WWE After The Bell with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.