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For the sixth time ever...

Big E (c) vs. Apollo Crews

Intercontinental championship match

We’ve seen this match before.

In fact, we’ve seen this match five times before.

Normally, that’d be too many prior matches to warrant yet another at the premiere stage of WrestleMania. And I think that argument could still be made that this is the case here. But in this situation, they used each of those matches to advance a story and more importantly, push Apollo Crews’ character further and further to the dark side.

The first time the met was soon after Big E won the Intercontinental title from Sami Zayn in a lumberjack.

Big E discussed an open challenge backstage and Apollo accepted before the champ could even finish his sentence. At this point, these men were friends so E had no problem giving his pal a shot.

The match, which took place the following week, ended in a draw when both men had their shoulders pinned to the mat. Given E was the champ, he kept the title. Crews wasn’t about all that and slapped his friend, who then gave him another chance. The champ won that rather convincingly.

The follow day on Talking Smack, he had a “pep talk” from Paul Heyman, who tried to get him to stop being a friend and start taking what’s his.

So that’s two matches, but all part of the same of segment. The match and the Heyman talking to was the catalyst for the heel turn, the moment that set it in motion.

Their third title match was a couple weeks later. But former champion Sami Zayn, handcuffed at ringside in some form of protest, uncuffed himself and nail Crews with a Helluva Kick.

This was technically a win for Apollo, but also the third title match he failed to win the gold. This was used to set up a triple threat match between the three men. Big E retained his title. This bigger issue for Crews is he took the pinfall, not Sami Zayn, removing a legitimate argument for a rematch.

That didn’t stop him from asking though, entering Christian territory when it comes to one.... more... match. That tactic worked to turn Christian heel, and it worked for Apollo too. Because at one point, asking for an opportunity you failed to capitalize on over and over again is obnoxious and delusional.

Events didn’t improve for Crews who lost to Shinsuke Nakamura weeks later. He took that loss particularly hard and attacked the King of Strong Style after the loss. Big E came down to put an end to Apollo’s nonsense, but Crews snapped, attacked the champ with the steel steps and then dropped them on a prone E outside the ring. The New Day member required medical attention as a result.

This was the final step in Apollo’s transition. The following week, he introduced his latest incarnation. He explained his Nigerian royalty, the package complete with guard and spear. It was abrupt, especially the accent. Perhaps it was too abrupt. But maybe this version of Crews would finally find success.

It did not.

Instead, at Fastlane, he lost to Big E again, the end of the match looking like a bit of a botch. Once again, he beat up the champ after the match, but it’s a rerun of a story we’ve seen plenty already.

The challenge for lucky number six was later issued: A Nigerian Drum match at WrestleMania... whatever that is. This should be the final time these two meet, though at this point, who knows?

The story has taken Apollo on a journey and that’s appreciated. WWE often runs multiple repeats of matches but they don’t usually evolve a character like they did with Crews here. But no matter how often the challenger changed, failing to win the title in five different title matches (three of which he lost via pinfall) makes it hard to justify another at the biggest stage in wrestling.

These are two talented men that should make the gimmick work. The payoff should be worth it. Let’s just hope there’s not a number seven next month.

Apollo Crews will challenge Big E for the Intercontinental championship in a Nigerian Drum Match on night one of WrestleMania. Keep it here to for all of your WrestleMania coverage.


Who will win this match?

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    Apollo Crews
    (204 votes)
  • 50%
    Big E
    (204 votes)
408 votes total Vote Now

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