Apollo Crews has gone through a drastic change in his character over the past few weeks on SmackDown. He turned heel in February and attacked Shinsuke Nakamura and Big E after losing a match to Nakamura. He kayfabe injured Big E by slamming steel steps onto his back, which forced him to take time off of SmackDown. Crews would then go on to debut a new “Nigerian Royalty” character with new gear and entrance music. Crews would do a good job pulling the character off and working with what’s given to him, even earning a WWE Intercontinental Championship match against Big E at Fastlane.
Apollo Crews talked about his new persona in an interview with Sports Illustrated, where he discussed his newfound confidence in himself. “This isn’t arrogance or cockiness; it’s just me knowing what I am capable of doing,” Crews said. “My talent has been hidden for too long, and people are finally going to see how great I really am.”
Apollo Crews also said that this new character is a chance for him to get back in touch with his Nigerian roots. He also revealed that he cared too much about what people thought of him and now his mindset has changed. He’s happy with his role, and it feels like a part of him. “I have such a different background,” Crews said regarding his lineage. “You don’t often see African representation on our show. This is a chance to get back in touch with my Nigerian roots. I always cared too much what people thought when I was younger, but my mindset has changed. I’m excited about what I’m doing right now. It’s an extension of who I am, and it feels so natural. I am stepping outside my comfort zone, and I’m so excited to do that.”
Apollo Crews also revealed that his impressive in-ring work was able to carry him throughout the indies. But once he got into WWE, he struggled to find himself in a new environment. Crews said that since he’s a shy person, it takes him some time to get familiar with a new situation. Because of this, he came accross as a generic guy and saw that fans weren’t able to connect with him. Since then, he has worked hard to build the connection and make fans care about his character.
Crews’ Inspiration from Roman Reigns
One such character that struggled to connect with fans was that of Roman Reigns. Apollo Crews said that he took inspiration from Reigns’ journey in finding his character and he’s applying what he’s learned from the Universal Champion.
“Roman does everything so well. I’ve watched and learned from him. He’s the best. Everyone wants to be in the spot he’s in, so watching him has taught me so much. I want to be that person who can captivate an audience, with an undeniable greatness. That’s Roman’s level, and that is what I am working toward,” Apollo Crews said.
Apollo Crews faces Intercontinental Champion Big E at Fastlane on Sunday, March 21.