Apollo Crews had a very short stint in NXT. A former independent wrestler, it has always appeared as though he has all the in-ring tools to make it on the main roster. He is muscular, strong and is as athletic a human that the WWE employs.
Despite all of that, Crews’ main roster run has been ho-hum up until this point. Sure, he had a match against The Miz at SummerSlam for the Intercontinental Championship, but most observers assumed what ended up actually happening — he would lose.
Outside of that, he hasn’t done much of anything else. He’s won some, lost more, and his current gimmick is just being a dude who smiles a lot.
This has obviously led to some members of the Internet Wrestling Community thinking that the WWE is jobbing out the talented performer. That, instead of utilizing his insane gifts, the company has no idea what to do with him and is just hurling him in random matches week after week.
Some of that might be true. Still, I’d argue that the WWE has handled him mostly OK so far, and that the losses Crews has been piling up as of late are no big deal.
The sincere issue Crews faces has nothing to do with wins or losses. It is with how he — or, really, his character — has yet to connect with the fans. It is weird it is that way since otherworldly in-ring guys tend to get over simply by being other-worldly in-ring guys. But the reality remains, there’s that disconnect.
This is something that plagues Neville over at Raw. He, like Crews, can do it all inside the squared circle. Yet, here we are, and not only are both guys in a creative purgatory of sorts, but neither have found a true connection with the live crowds to the point some are worried about their careers.
Again, this comes back to character development. An aspect of wrestling that can often be more important than the actual in-ring stuff.
Since Crews’ character is nothing at this point — and we mean absolutely nothing — it is fine that he is losing. In fact, it might be better off that he’s losing. A large reason the WWE Universe has hated several wrestlers over the years is because they weren’t all that invested in characters, but the WWE forced them down the audience’s throat anyway. That tactic has either tainted those guys forever or has resulted in them burning out of the WWE completely.
We are avoiding that with Crews as of this moment. There is no forced push happening.
Honestly, it more appears as though the WWE might have called him up from NXT a little too early, as his persona is not yet ready for the big stage, but will allow him to work out the dents in the armor on live television, which can explain the lack of a push.
A good example of this was on Tuesday’s edition of SmackDown. Sure, he lost to AJ Styles, but losing to the No. 1 contender for the WWE World Championship isn’t exactly a bad deal. The positive in here was that the company had — or allowed — Crews speak on the microphone before the match. A small move, even if it was only a faulty gesture, to have him try to win over some new fans he was otherwise wrestling without.
It will be an interesting few months for the performer. A lot of things are happening on SmackDown around him. During this same period of time, Crews has not been as much lost in the shuffle as he’s been overshadowed by several other wrestlers who are better mixing their in-ring work with their characters.
Would it be nice for Crews to win a lot? I suppose; especially if you’re a fan of his work. But the safe approach here is to make sure the WWE Universe gets to know him first, especially in a way that makes a large portion of the fanbase be invested in him, before anyone goes about jamming him down our throats ala Roman Reigns, John Cena, or some of the DOZENS of quick-to-vanish guys who received mega-pushes without actual character development before receiving it.
Crews has all the in-ring tools to be a star. The idea that his character still leaves a lot to be desired can’t be ignored, though. Since he’s somewhere in the middle of the SmackDown pack, it isn’t the losses that is hurting him, it is a one-dimensional gimmick that is just a man smiling a bunch that is.
If or when Crews’ character become more than that, then the wins and losses will start to matter.