Last night’s edition of SmackDown was promoted as the first night of the annual WWE draft – and it was.
But more than that it truly became the story of The New Day as the faction and their immediate and long term future dominated the evening.
Early in the night, Big E expectedly defeated Sheamus in a wild and fun Falls Count Anywhere match.
Immediately afterwards saw an emotional reunion as first Kofi Kingston and then Xavier Woods made their returns to SmackDown to reunite one of the greatest teams in WWE history.
Almost immediately it was announced that the returning Woods and Kingston would face Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship.
In a move that again, wasn’t hard to see coming, The New Day duo were victorious to once again win the titles and stretch their own recordS to seven SmackDown tag titles and nine overall in WWE.
Then came the bombshell.
In the final round of the night’s drafting, The New Day were traded to Raw. Almost.
Actually, Raw had only drafted Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston. Immediately afterwards, SmackDown drafted Big E and just like that, after over six years as a team without even a hint of dissent, The New Day had now been forced to split.
It is a monumental move for arguably the best tag team in WWE history. The motivation is clear. It allows Big E to continue his inevitable rise to the main event as a solo act on the blue brand whilst Woods & Kingston maintain The New Day vibe as a two man team on Monday nights.
In reality, it would not be remotely unexpected to see the team remain affiliated. Will they all retain the same music and wear coordinated ring gear across brands? Normally a team splitting would demand a clean break from the shared past but in this instance, it is easy to imagine that The New Day will continue to refer to themselves as a united team, so play split by brands. When either of the parts needs a little back up, they can always turn to their former partner(s) for a little cross-brand assistance.
Next week on SmackDown sees the official farewell for The New Day in a fun match. The trio will team up against Shinsuke Nakamura, Cesaro and Sheamus. The fun in the heel duo is that it sees the reuniting of The Bar, one of The New Day’s greatest rivals. Will that be acknowledged during the match?