On the New Day’s Apparent Political Gestures #GiveTablesaChance

First, I must say that New Day’s entrance has been one of the moments I wait for in these past few weeks of wrestling. Bouncy Kofi’s little skippity-hop down the aisle fills my heart with joy, and I was delighted this week by Big E carrying a sign which simply read “Booty!” Xavier Woods, too, makes me so happy as he just hollers on and on like a loud spaz. What an ironic position the New Day have found themselves in: they failed miserably as an earnest babyface stable and turned heel despite all odds (Kofi Kingston a heel! What strange times these are!). It was with this heel turn that they evolved their gimmick into brilliance, and have become a truly memorable tag trio. We shouldn’t let ourselves become so cynical that we fail to recognize the triumph of the New Day.

But New Day is so delightful, it’s easy to overlook the fact that they are making political gestures. Bouncing down to the ring holding picket signs is a clear allusion to a worker’s protest. They are presenting themselves as wrestling’s workers, and what are they protesting? The return of an older generation of tag team champions to intrude upon their domain. Now I’m as thrilled as anybody to see the Dudley Boys taking charge of things smashing tables like it’s 2002. But their return represents the larger problem we see everywhere in WWE: the old returning to intrude upon the new. The New Day is protesting the reemergence of this bygone era of career-shortening high risk maneuvers and the smashing of bodies through furniture.

But then, consider the hashtag on Xavier Woods’ sign this week: “#GiveTablesaChance”. There is more to this if you look closely, too. This puts the divas in the same class as the props men throw their bodies through. Look, I’m actually all for a little funny misogyny here and there in wrestling, because it’s all a strange corporate satire at this point, and there is a place for misogyny in satire. But it’s still worth noting that this is a fairly blunt message the New Day is offering. No? And lest you think I’m making a mountain out of a mohill, consider the innuendo of Xavier Woods’ picket sign: “Broken Wood Is No Good”. Hmmm?

I know I read a tad much into stuff sometimes. What I’ve noticed some people miss is, I do it because it’s FUN. I don’t sit around fretting about John Cena’s corrupting influence on my children. Come on. I write pieces like that because I think it’s fun to notices the different stories that can be told about a wrestler’s message. So I’m not saying New Day is a bunch of woman-hating assholes, but come on. It’s just that the book nerd here wants you to notice, “#GiveTablesaChance” is fairly edgy, even if they didn’t intend it to be so. The artist isn’t always aware of the possibilities their art creates.

So I’ll say it again. According to Kofi Kingston, divas fit the same fill-in-the-blank in a hashtag as the tables he will soon be thrown though. And we sort of love him for saying it. Such is the nature of satire in transitional epochs. Everything gets turned on its head.

Tangential but related: I noticed another bold political gesture from the New Day a few pay-per-views ago. Recall when Xavier Woods, not even entered in the match, sneaked into the ring and pinned somebody? The hour is too late for me to dig up the specifics, but I remember it was read as a play on the idea that all black me look alike. But it was funny, on my Twitter timeline — some people were quick to tsk that WWE was characterizing all black men as looking alike. But then I saw a retweet from someone beside himself with joy, because New Day was reclaiming the stereotype of all black men looking alike and using it to their advantage, winning the match with it. This was an example in which wrestling was not racist, it was an exploration of racial stereotypes. More to come on this topic, hopefully.

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One Comment

  1. August 30, 2015

    Indeed! This is probably the dominant reading of that segment. It satirizes hashtag activism and calls attention to the politics of audience signage. It also hints at picketing, though that wasn’t exactly what they were doing. This dig at the divas (which I think is fair to read, even if its not intended) I noticed is subtle, buried deep within a more obvious message. This is kind of my whole point — when it gets really good like the New Day, wrestling’s symbols, metaphors, satires and messages don’t have a single meaning but instead a range of meaning for us each to interpret.

    You make me realize I really need to expand this post to talk about the picket signs and the hashtag activism, these were really the larger political gestures of the segment. (Lord beer me a free half hour later!)

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