Last night (Feb. 12), SmackDown continued its story of Apollo Crews chasing Intercontinental champion Big E. Their rivalry has been a constant of E’s nearly two month reign, but it remains compelling.
That’s partly because these are two men we haven’t regularly been in singles title program. It’s also because this isn’t a boilerplate pro wrestling storyline.
Both men have a defensible, relatable position. The champ feels he’s given his friend several chances to take the belt, and now he’s ready to move on. E believes he needs to put down as many challengers as he can to cement his legacy and build his credentials for an even higher spot on the card.
Crews feels he’s earned another opportunity, and seeing as his only one-on-one loss to E came in a restarted match after a double pin, he’s got a decent case. The rematch a week later ended when Sami Zayn interfered, which led to a Triple Threat. Sure, Apollo was pinned by E in that, but asking for another chance to go mano a mano isn’t ridiculous.
It definitely doesn’t merit disrespecting someone just for asking. And whether he was speaking into his mic or not, telling Crews he’s “whining” and should go back to catering is pretty disrespectful.
That’s why while some on the web have called Apollo’s drop kick interference of E’s match with Shinsuke Nakamura a heel turn, I’m not so sure. I mean, if he’s gonna turn heel for a singles match, a backstage attack is the much smarter play. These kind of DQs only lead to more Triple Threats, my man.
It could be another step in a slow heel turn, sure - we’ve seen signs of Crews considering the rudo path taken by Paul Heyman & Roman Reigns for a while now. But last night, both guys were right, and both guys were wrong.
This is the kind of story that allows all involved to add layers to their characters and sharpen all their tools. On Friday night, it provided an opportunity for Large Epsilon to deliver a slightly silly promo in the ring (in addition to the invitation to battle a security guard, he also dropped a reference to the lady who Gorilla Clue-d her hair) and then go backstage and cut an earnest one.
These shades of gray will probably be stripped away en route some kind of stipulation match somewhere between here and Fastlane, but I wouldn’t swear to it. The E/Apollo rivalry is keeping my attention, and I’m going to enjoy the ride while it lasts.