Cleat Geeks

Mid-Card Monday



Apollo Crews, AKA Uhaa Nation, made his WWE main roster debut earlier this year on April 4th after spending just over a year in the NXT developmental league.  Fans can trace Crews back to his days in the Dragon Gate USA promotion, spending time in the ring with its affiliates (Evolve and Full Impact Pro), but to most, Crews is a credible athlete without any background information. Who is this man and why should we care?

Crews PicCrews has been in the professional wrestling business since 2009, and he has traveled the world racking up experience and titles.  Even though he is new to the WWE Universe, he has an accomplished background that includes being runner up for Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Rookie of the Year and winning Dragon Gate USA’s Best Newcomer of the Year.  His talent caught the eye of WWE officials, and quickly rose to prominence in NXT, facing top-tier names such as Finn Balor.

Apollo Crews is an undeniable threat in the ring. His finisher, a back-lifted powerbomb, demonstrates his athleticism and power.

The agility that he displays, contrasts against his muscular stature should propel him to the top of the roster, yet he has remained lost in the shuffle like so many others. So why are his matches typically fast-forwarded through?  Simple.  His character has lacked, what is called agency, since arriving at WWE.

(Image Source)

(Image Source)

What is agency?  It’s motivation for action. It’s what propels a character to throw their hands up in the air and say, “Enough is enough!  I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”  It’s what makes plotlines develop, and sadly too many athletes are given the watered-down version storyline of “I want to win.”  That may have worked in the days of Killer Kowalski and Haystacks Calhoun, but prize fighting is a thing of the past.  It doesn’t make the audience innately join the bandwagon and cheer on a wrestler. With wins and losses being batted back and forth, men like Apollo Crews need stronger agency than battling The Social Outcasts.

Thankfully, with the brand split, WWE creative teams have thrown Apollo Crews a few more opportunities to shine since April.  After being drafted #45 overall in the 9th round to Smackdown, I was fearful that he would continue to be lost, being paired up with stronger opponents to take a few losses here and there. Fortunately, on Smackdown Live’s debut show, Crews stood out as he won the battle royal that solidified the 6th spot in the 6-Pack Challenge whose winner would go onto face Dean Ambrose for the WWE Championship at Summer Slam.  Going up against such strong names as Bray Wyatt and John Cena and losing didn’t hurt Crews.  It provided a realistic spotlight on him, that hopefully will lead to more exposure and a steady climb up the ladder.

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