Hyperbole is something we should try to avoid. The following comes with a bit of trepidation, but it seems like time we acknowledge it.
It feels like we should start panicking over the fact Apollo Crews is less over in the WWE Universe than James Ellsworth. Really, some local jobbers have been getting better crowd reactions than a wrestler so talented that many once envisioned him headlining Network Specials.
How did we get here? That answer is complicated.
All of this becomes even more troublesome when we try to figure out how we did get here. When we realize there’s nothing inherently wrong with the Crews, it leaves us scratching our heads looking for answers. After all, he has everything we should want in a pro wrestler. He is good in the ring, has the right look and his move-set is forever evolving.
Yet, here we are, and the best reactions Crews has gotten from live audiences is indifference — the absolute worst type of non-reaction reaction a wrestler can face. Not resonating with the fans in any sort of way is even worse than the dreaded X-Pac heat.
The problem here is that when there’s no obvious reason for the indifference from the crowd, how in the hell is anyone meant to know how to fix it?
We can point to several of the WWE’s missteps in handling the Superstar’s character since his debut, but by and by most guys as talented as Crews can get over by themselves by simply working matches. The company has afforded him some lengthy bouts to try to do that too, but it hasn’t worked in any way.
What’s worse, he’s been losing quite a bit lately.
But the losses alone can’t be pointed to as the reason he isn’t getting over. Heading into his feud with The Miz over the Intercontinental Championship, which should have made us more emotionally invested in Crews, the crowds seemed to care as much about watching paint dry as they did at seeing the former NXT talent attempt at winning the gold.
He wasn’t over during his initial debut. He wasn’t over during his run at the IC title. Now he’s not over when losing a lot. Crews has been “not over” in nearly every which way possible at this point.
Where’s the disconnect? What is the issue? Is there anything the WWE can do to help save him from being a failed NXT-to-main roster guy as were many others before him?
Without going into the fantasy booking side of things too much, a heel turn can work. So, too, can any sort of gimmick that is more than a man who smiles a lot.
Here we have a talent on a SmackDown brand that is purposely designed to build new stars, and Apollo Crews has been getting such ho-hum crowd reactions that he’s jobbing to fellow NXT alum Baron Corbin on TV.
Had anyone asked wrestling fans when both were on NXT which of the two would have the more successful main roster run, few would have picked the “Lone Wolf.” But, again, here we still are, and a once fringe Corbin appears to have a far brighter future than the still very much riddled with potential and talent Crews.