Apollo Crews has been a member of the WWE main roster for nearly three years, but he’s only had a handful of opportunities to win a championship of any kind.
Since joining WWE‘s NXT brand in 2014 after being a standout at various independent wrestling promotions worldwide, Apollo Crews was tabbed by wrestling fans as a future breakout star. Nearly three years later, that breakout hasn’t quite happened for Crews, but, recently, he’s been used in more important angles, even if his presence on WWE programming remains infrequent.
On last week’s episode of Raw, Apollo had the distinction of being Kurt Angle’s final opponent in his hometown of Pittsburgh. It was a big moment for both men, made even more important when the commentary team informed the WWE Universe that Angle helped inspire Crews to become a professional wrestler.
As always, Crews stood out during the match. Nobody disputes his in-ring talent, which is plain to see. Crews’s blend of power, technical ability, quickness, and agility make him one of WWE’s most exciting wrestlers, and for all the double-speak from a certain segment of fans about his lacking charisma, he’s shown in numerous segments, such as a pose-off with Bobby Lashley, that he has a knack for comedic timing. And it’s only a matter of time before WWE lets Crews, formerly of Titus Worldwide, show a more serious side.
Crews has competed in Raw Tag Team Title and Intercontinental Championship matches before, and he received his latest opportunity on the Dec. 28 episode against Dean Ambrose. It was his first IC Title match in two years, when he faced The Miz on Dec. 20, 2016, and, once again, Crews impressed the WWE Universe in a match against a big-name opponent.
Chances are, his match against Ambrose and his match against Angle in Pittsburgh were just small, one-off moments for Crews, as was his all-too-fast match against Lashley, the current Intercontinental Champion. But if the WWE Universe continues to get behind Apollo in these moments, perhaps he can build sufficient momentum in 2019 to capture his first title in the company.
No, this isn’t about “handing everyone” a championship: Crews has shown over the course of three years that he has the ability to hang with everyone else in the mid-card. If this weren’t true, he wouldn’t have been able to get a title match against Ambrose in the “New Era”, nor would he have been Angle’s final opponent in his hometown.
The WWE Universe has seen the United States Championship and Intercontinental Championship change hands several times in recent months, and while established names – and future Hall of Famers – in Samoa Joe and Bobby Lashley currently hold both titles, Apollo wouldn’t be out of place with one of those championships around his waist.
He’s been working his tail off for years in WWE, to the point where wrestling fans almost universally respect Crews’s ability and are ready to seriously cheer for him if WWE were to turn recent teases of his success into something more.
This is the year for Apollo Crews to win his first title in WWE, whether that’s the US Title on SmackDown Live or the IC Title on Raw. Whether it’s his gorilla press, his standing moonsault, his infectious smile, or his underrated chain wrestling, Crews has the full package. It seems like he’s slowly starting to play a key role in WWE programming again, and after debuting on the main roster with intrigue surrounding him, he’s only become a more polished performer who seems ready to make that leap to championship gold.