WWE star and former United States champion Apollo Crews recently spoke with Sports Illustrated to discuss all things pro-wrestling, including why now was a good time for a character change and how he hopes to one day be on Roman Reigns’ level. Highlights are below.
How he’s changed his character to connect more with fans:
It was so different on the indies. I did these cool, awesome things in the ring, and my work carried me. At the time, I thought that would take me where I wanted. I got to NXT, and I had the chance to be me. Then I struggled to find myself in a new environment [on RAW and SmackDown]. That’s how it’s always been for me. I’m naturally shy and it takes me some time to get familiar with a new situation. That led to me being a generic guy, so people weren’t sure about me. I noticed that when we did live shows. People weren’t connecting with me, so I’ve really worked to build that connection and reaction from the fans.
Calls this the right time to explore:
This is the right point in my career for character exploration. Five years ago, as a performer, I couldn’t have done this, with the character or the accent, or any of it. Now I can. And look at the reactions. People hate it, people love it. That’s pretty cool. I don’t want anyone in the middle.
Wants to work his way up to Roman Reigns levels, who Crews calls fantastic:
Roman does everything so well. I’ve watched and learned from him. He’s the best. Everyone wants to be in the spot he’s in, so watching him has taught me so much. I want to be that person who can captivate an audience, with an undeniable greatness. That’s Roman’s level, and that is what I am working toward.