WWE fans were treated to a feel good moment at Money in the Bank on Sunday when Big E ascended the ladder to retrieve the Money in the Bank briefcase. With the win, Big E is now guaranteed a title shot at a time of his choosing in the next year, an opportunity that nearly always results in the winner being crowned world champion.
Along with the return of John Cena, Big E's win stands as one of the lasting memories coming out of the event. Speaking with CBS Sports less than 24 hours after his victory, Big E was still enjoying the moment.
"It's pretty incredible," Big E said. "I think just having the honor of having the briefcase is pretty incredible knowing that, hey, I'm close to being world champion. But it's just the moment of the night is something I'm going to remember for a long time. That energy, the fan reaction, there's nothing like that. That's what we aim for in our industry, you know? It's what you work for years and years for, nights like that, nights where everything almost feels perfect. I thought the match was incredible and just being in the ring with so many incredibly talented performers and guys who could all be world champions and are so incredible at what they do is humbling. Being newly back in crowds with that moment and the significant moments. So many things felt like a perfect storm was in place.
"...I think, for me, the end game is to be world champion. But I also want to have fun with it. That's been my focus as far as becoming a singles performer and a singles wrestler. I want to approach this with determination but I still want to be me. I want to have fun and I want it to be fun. I think that little interaction that you saw with myself and Paul Heyman on Friday, that's a bit of it. I still think what we do -- the 'E' is for entertainment. That's important to me and it's so important for me to go out and make people smile and laugh and entertain them. But I want people to know there's a side of me that's determined to be a world champion, not just be one, but have a reign that is memorable and long and one that people enjoy."
While fans have felt that Big E was ready for a run at the top of the card for years, it felt at times that WWE would never pull the trigger on giving him that opportunity. Even when Big E was split from his New Day teammates Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods and moved to SmackDown, it never felt that he'd built any significant sustained momentum.
Big E stressed that, while there were impatient moments over the past few years, his focus remained on doing the best with everything he was given.
"I suppose there are moments like that where I felt like I can and should be doing a lot more," Big E said. "In the same vain, I really try to focus on controlling what I can. It's a waste of mental energy and emotions to sit up and complain. My perspective has always been, 'Hey man, whatever you're given, do your best with it on a nightly basis.' I've always tried my best to never have that feeling that I made it. Despite being named the greatest tag team of all time and doing so many incredible things with the New Day, for me there was just never a moment where I felt like I made it and it was time to ghost and there will never be. I'll retire one day feeling like I still have more work to put in. For me, I feel like the last couple years I've been ready. Just the outpouring of respect from my peers has really bolstered my confidence to think that, yeah, you know what? I am ready to take that top spot. It feels like now? It's time now. We're here and I'm excited about that."
Big E has been plenty busy outside the ring as of late. Possessing one of the most iconic and instantly-recognizable voices in WWE, he has become the face of WWE's effort to find "the next great ring announcer" in a WWE contest being held on TikTok, with the winner earning an opportunity to live the role at SummerSlam.
"I think it's so easy to lean on the ring announcers of my childhood," Big E said of the premier qualities of a great ring announcer. "You think about Howard (Finkel), but what makes a good ring announcer is that you have to have a certain professionalism but I love when ring announcers kind of bring their own little flair to it or they have the guy, their top guy like John Cena where his call is a little bit different and there's a little more umph on it for someone who is the guy. I like when ring announcers bring a little bit more personality while still being professional. It's a bit of a balance. The fact that we're using TikTok right now to scout the world for the next great ring announcer is pretty cool. To see that culminate very soon at SummerSlam is very cool. The way we use newer forms of media to find and recruit talent is exciting. We'll see how it shakes out."
More importantly, Big E has also partnered with friends to launch a project bringing awareness to important Black figures throughout history. The project, titled Our Heroes Rock, is an effort by Big E, Andreas Hale and Jonathan Davenport featuring animation and hip hop, and kicks off in the coming months with a feature on Ruby Bridges.
"For me, I think the death and murder of George Floyd was something that really shook me and I had this feeling that I wanted to do more," Big E said. "I didn't know what to do but I have a bit of a platform and a voice and I wanted to use it. I think a lot of ignorance and hate starts at a lack of understanding and I just thought, 'You know what? What if we did something akin to, or the spiritual successor to, Schoolhouse Rock. But let's do it for Black figures and politicians and artists and activists upon whom not enough spotlight is shined upon.
"This project we're working on right now is focused on Ruby Bridges, she was a six-year-old Black girl in 1960 who integrated an all-white school in New Orleans. Her story just resonates to anyone. It's such an incredible story. ... We wanted to use hip hop to make it fresh. In so many ways, hip hop is the language of culture right now. We wanted to use animation. Jonathan Davenport has been designing the New Day gear for, I think, the last seven years now and he's such an incredible artist. This has really been a labor of love. Our hope is to produce this film, which hopefully comes out in the next few months, and hopefully we can have a series where we can do more of these stories. That's what I'm excited about and what we've been working on pretty much daily for the last several months."