Apollo Crews Has Finally Arrived On WWE SmackDown! But Does It Signal Change Behind The Scenes In WWE?
WWE are allowing more Superstars to play to their strengths and it's wonderful to see!
Apollo Crews will have a Universal Championship programme within the next 12 months.
No, I haven't been drinking. You're probably thinking that I have been if you haven't seen last night's SmackDown. I firmly believe we're onto something special when it comes to 'the new' Apollo Crews.
On a night where Tamina scored her second pinfall victory in as many weeks (CHOO! CHOO! There's no stopping that train now, is there?!) it was Apollo who made the major headlines as we were formally introduced to his new character.
Last week we heard about his regal ancestors, but this week we learned what they were all about and how Apollo is going to use his lineage to take him to the next level.
"These colours, this is what they mean. Wealth, Dominance, and Power."
Of course, it's one thing giving a Superstar new strokes to their character, but it's another thing entirely seeing that Superstar actually pull it off. If last night's powerful promo was anything to go by, the only way is up for the one-time United States Champion.
It just worked. It fit. I believe Apollo Crews is who he says he is.
I must admit I'm not too familiar with the work of Uhaa Nation, but merely going off some of the reaction on social media to last night's promo, it looks like WWE are allowing Apollo to head back to a space and a character that he is way more comfortable with.
Mind you, it's understandable why WWE would want Apollo Crews to be a babyface for much of the last five years. He's a handsome family man who has a very pretty moveset. He's everything you'd want from a role model for 'the kids' and that...
But therein lay the issue when it came to Apollo in a WWE ring - he was happy to be there, he smiled, he had a family watching him on at home... but there was nothing else for us fans to truly sink our teeth into.
In a former life, AJ Styles told us here at Cultaholic Wrestling that 'moves are easy, pro wrestling is all about the little things'. It doesn't take a scientist to see that Apollo can do all of the moves really, really well, and then some - it was just that extra something that stopped him kicking on to another level. Crews rarely looked comfortable trying to do the things Vince McMahon et al wanted from him.
And this is something that appears to be changing in WWE - even with the widely reported stubborn McMahon still at the helm.
I'm looking at Roman Reigns and Bobby Lashley as two more glaring examples of characters WWE wanted to be one thing over a prolonged period of time, and characters who are now flourishing and arguably doing the best work of their respective careers while doing the opposite.
Reigns has gone from being a cookie-cutter babyface with a lot of cringe attached to his character to seemingly being more like the real-life Joe Anoa'i we've heard so much about from his fellow Superstars - only with the volume turned up to 'Mafia Mob Boss'. And it works, and then some.
As for Lashley, I'm still trying to forget that entire Sami Zayn feud where WWE tried to humanise this real-life goliath by telling the story of how his sisters would tie him up and leave him in a field... the look on Bobby's face when he says "I love you" still haunts me to this day. They were trying to get him to be something he clearly isn't. How could the company know about Bobby Lashley and the things he can do, have him do a sit-down interview with Renee Young where he clearly displayed he can't do the things they wanted him to do, and STILL show that to the world?!
It's taken a long time to recover from that but ever since The Almighty realised he's been the proverbial 'nearly man' in WWE for so long, and decided to take that frustration out on Riddle, he's gone from strength to strength.
Bob is just ripping people's heads off now. He's saying as little as possible - only really saying things when things really need to be said. This is what Bobby Lashley should have been all along. All action, no bollocks. Just like Reigns: it works, and then some.
This brings us back to Crews and leaves us asking the following questions - has there been a change in philosophy backstage in WWE? Are the powers that be allowing certain Superstars of today have more creative input when it comes to their character? Are WWE taking the shackles off, and letting these Superstars paint the pictures they want to paint (as long as it fits the direction the company want to go, of course)?
For so long it appeared that it was the company's way or the highway, for better or worse. But now, with Reigns, Lashley and most recently Crews producing great things in areas where they once didn't, maybe WWE are allowing the Superstars to drive their own cars up the highway with the limiter off... that was terrible, I know, but you know what I mean.
It just feels like to me the things Apollo said on SmackDown could only have come from the brain of Apollo - same goes for Roman. Surely most of what the Tribal Cheif says these days can only be produced by himself, and not a writer 20 years his senior?
I personally can't wait to see what comes from Apollo Crews on SmackDown from here on out, as even he becomes more acquainted with his new role.
For me, that initial promo screamed 'MAIN EVENT STAR'.