Over seven years ago, the New Day debuted on SmackDown to little fanfare. The trio received less than a favorable response from the fans, which blossomed their heel turn shortly after. Eleven collective tag team title reigns later, and the pillars of positivity are one of the most accomplished factions in WWE history.

Despite their success, which also includes two WWE Title reigns within the group, current WWE Champion Big E says they couldn’t have imagined what they’d accomplish together when they first laid out their vision for the group.

“We believed in ourselves tremendously, but I can’t say I would have known,” Big E told Cincy360. “Especially considering how difficult things were getting off the ground. I don’t think I could have ever fathomed that Kofi would’ve had that KofiMania incredible run. I don’t think that I could’ve fathomed breaking records that stood for over 20 years in WWE. Becoming tag team champions for 483 days? Uninterrupted? That’s very, very rare and it’s a feat that we couldn’t have predicted.”

Before ‘New Day Rocks!’ chants shook arenas nationwide, the trio was often met with an unflattering chorus of boos. Seeing their immeasurable success today makes their beginnings hard to believe, but Big E says he always tries to ground himself by remembering those first steps.

“It really is humbling. That’s one of the things that I always try to do is not forget the start of this journey as a collective, because it was not easy. It was not easy at all,” Big E said. “We were looking to get this thing going and hopefully be on TV together for three to six months, and hopefully that would allow us the momentum for us to do whatever it is that we needed to do. Just give us something, and that something has turned into such a beautiful journey.

“I couldn’t ask for better partners. I feel like when we’re done with our careers, when it’s all said and done, we’re still going to be connected. We’re still going to talk all the time. We’re still going to see each other because it’s a very real bond, a very real brotherhood.”

Years before he achieved the top singles prize in WWE, the second-ever NXT Champion was marketed to the main roster as a group’s enforcer. He eventually landed as Dolph Ziggler and AJ Lee’s heavy, but was briefly considered for Roman Reigns’ role in The Shield.

“I think it worked out the best for all of us. I couldn’t fathom now being a part of The Shield,” Big E said. “I’m sure it would’ve been fun. I’m sure it would’ve been enjoyable. I think it was really best for Roman to be in that role as the big dude, the enforcer of that group. That dynamic wouldn’t have felt the same with me being there. It’s hard to fathom that almost a decade ago that for one brief moment I was considered as a possibility to be in that group.”

The Shield debuted on the main roster over a year before the New Day would unite, meaning the Hounds of Justice enjoyed gold much before Kofi, Woods, and Big E would together. Regardless of the different paths, Big E emphasized that he’s grateful for taking the road less travelled.

“My route was definitely a longer one. It was a longer one getting to the accomplishments that those guys had years ago,” Big E said. “But I’m glad for the more difficult journey. We would have not had the New Day if I was a member of The Shield. The Shield would’ve felt different. I think it all worked out for the best.”

If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Cincy 360 with an h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.