SmackDown Live has truly become a place where younger stars can shine. This couldn’t have been any more evident this past Tuesday, when Apollo Crews won a triple threat match to become the No. 1 contender for the Intercontinental Championship.
The ramifications for the former NXT star are huge. Not only does this mean he will get to participate in SummerSlam, but he now gets to be involved in an angle with the wildly underrated Miz.
Moving forward a lot of people will discuss this in too simplistic of terms. Some will say that unless Crews wins the IC title at SummerSlam that this mini-push is for not. But unless people care enough about Crews by the time SummerSlam hits, winning the gold won’t mean a lick if there’s no emotional investment into the smiley faced Superstar.
Outside of a few indie die-hards and the NXT faithful, most of the WWE Universe is currently timid with their reactions toward Crews. For good reason too, as all he has done since joining the main roster is fight in a handful of meaningless matches. Other than that, well, his gimmick is no gimmick and the only personality he has shown has been his smile.
That’s why his feuding with The Miz is key to the building of Crews as a character and a talent the WWE presumably wants to get over.
Say what you will about his in-ring skills, there have been few true heels over the last decade who does as good a job as making people love faces as The Miz. Between first helping people fall in love with John Morrison, to somehow turning Alex Riley into a surprisingly (though, shortly lived) Superstar, all the way to nearly every other young WWE Superstar after, if The Miz does nothing else well, he will sure as hell get you to hate him so much that you will root like heck for the other guy.
That’s good news for Crews. The audience still doesn’t know if he can work a microphone or if he has any personality other than that smile.
Anchoring his push alongside The Miz is a genius move. It takes the pressure off Crews, allowing The Miz to carry the burden to the point of it being his job – not Crews’ – to get Apollo over, and it helps with the audience realizing that the athletic wrestler is a face. And, yes, we knew the latter beforehand, but we only knew that thanks to how much he smiles.
That’s why the build to SummerSlam is more important than the event itself. He needs to begin to resonate with fans. However he does so is certainly on him, but the WWE did something truly brilliant in this angle. The company paired him against a wrestler whose very best ability is to make the other guy the most over guy in all of the WWE.
The next few weeks are going to be incredibly important to the career of Apollo Crews. If he sinks, no matter what happens at SummerSlam, odds are that he will never be able to truly recover. However, if he is able to ride the coattails of The Miz a bit, and add something of his own to the storytelling process, we can be in the early portions of witnessing the birth of a future mega-star.
No pressure or anything.