Apollo Crews is sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Ever since he lost the United States Championship to Bobby Lashley and got traded to SmackDown last year, he’s had trouble putting momentum together consistently. He earned no less than five shots at the Intercontinental Championship but remained unable to win the title, and eventually that frustration boiled over into violence.
After a loss to Shinsuke Nakamura last month, a frustrated Crews attacked Intercontinental Champion Big E and viciously dropped the steel steps from the maximum elevation the ring mat has to offer. Nearly ten feet of drop gave Apollo that deeply needed momentum, and crashed into E, sending him home for nearly a month with temporary arm weakness.
During E’s convalescence, Crews debuted a new voice, a new look, and a new attitude. Hearkening back to his grandfathers and great-grandfathers, kings of the Tiv people of eastern Nigeria and neighboring Cameroon, Apollo shed his American accent, clad himself in regal green and white, and even briefly carried a ceremonial spear and was accompanied by a camouflaged honor guard.
In his promos, Crews made it clear that there’s no more Mr. Nice Guy, and he’s coming to take what is his by right by any means necessary, and that includes Big E’s title.
It’s a lot.
Apollo has never hidden his heritage— his ring name on the indies was Uhaa Nation, after all— but he’s really embraced it to an extreme degree now. As to whether the new attitude will bring him the success he craves, that remains to be seen, but he’s already earned a decisive victory over Shinsuke Nakamura, and his promise to crack E’s face and stand tall over his mangled body while his ancestors look on seems terrifyingly plausible.
Claiming the Intercontinental Championship from an enraged Big E isn’t going to be easy, though.
E has made it clear that Crews had better enjoy his last few days of having full use of his limbs, and seems to have reached a point where he takes a quiet sadistic joy in the idea of breaking Apollo. Normally a jovial and friendly sort, the change in attitude is, frankly, terrifying and I certainly wouldn’t want to be on the other end of the beatdown he’s handing out tomorrow.
Going strictly by the numbers, things don’t look good for Crews— the only singles matches they’ve ever had against each other are their series for the title recently, and that’s 2-0-1 with a double pin draw as the closest Apollo has reached victory. The X factor here is time, however— none of their matches have gone much more than three minutes, so if Crews can weather Big’s initial assault, he may just be able to take advantage of some tired thigh meat and make his ancestors proud.
Can Apollo Crews’ new attitude win him the title or will Big E get his vengeance?
Who will win?
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