Apollo Crews: A Nigerian flavour come to WWE WrestleMania
It was tagged the Nigerian Drum Fight at WWE WrestleMania 37.
Sesugh Uhaa hails from Benue State in North Central Nigeria. He became the WWE Intercontinental Champion in his first reign on Sunday when he performed on the SmackDown brand under the ring name Apollo Crews.
Born on August 22, 1987, Crews has always been one of WWE’s best in-ring talents before his fight against Big E at the weekend.
Based in Sacramento, California, USA, Crews, winner of the United States Championship in 2020, added what many describes as a new flavour to the WWE WrestleMania when he appeared on the stage displaying a true Nigerian character. He carried a spear.
During Big E’s absence, Crews started dressing in the colours of the Nigerian flag and speaking with a Nigerian accent. He claimed he was the descendant of royalty in the West African country, and said he was done hiding who he really was.
The Show of Shows was perhaps the culmination of a rivalry that has gotten quite personal over the past several weeks and led to the transformation of Crews from a beloved babyface into a hated heel.
With Big E, a former New Day man, looking set to retain via the Big Ending, a mysterious interloper (who looked suspiciously like Dabba-Kato) arrived to make the save and allow Apollo Crews to seal the win.
It started when he was denied another title shot by Big E after coming up short on a couple of occasions. Following a subsequent loss to Shinsuke Nakamura, Crews snapped and attacked The Artist and then did the same to Big E when he tried to intervene.
Crews took Big E out with the steel steps and then dropped them on top of him from the inside of the ring to the floor, resulting in the former New Day man missing a couple of weeks of action.
Sunday’s WrestleMania 37 marked the first-ever one-on-one singles match for both Big E and Apollo Crews at The Showcase of the Immortals, giving them added incentive to perform at a high level.
They did precisely that, and it was Crews who finally prevailed and provided a significant boost to his heel run in the process.
This runs deeper than his new gear and refined persona. And although this was already visible when watching his in-ring performances, there is now a different feature on display in his work, particularly when he holds the microphone. For the first time in his WWE career, Crews has confidence that directly connects to viewers.
“This isn’t arrogance or cockiness; it’s just me knowing what I am capable of doing,” Crews says. “My talent has been hidden for too long, and people are finally going to see how great I really am.”
The 33-year-old Nigerian-American wrestler has put in the work since the moment he arrived seven years ago in WWE. Despite well-crafted stories and unrivaled athleticism in the ring, Apollo Crews never found the recipe to connect with the WWE audience. That has now changed, as his new character—accompanied to the ring with two guards and speaking in a Nigerian accent—presents Crews in an entirely new light.
“I have such a different background,” Crews says. “You don’t often see African representation on our show. This is a chance to get back in touch with my Nigerian roots.
“I always cared too much about what people thought when I was younger, but my mindset has changed. I’m excited about what I’m doing right now. It’s an extension of who I am, and it feels so natural. I am stepping outside my comfort zone, and I’m so excited to do that.
“It’s only been a couple of weeks, but a lot has happened in that amount of time,” Crews says. “I have the right character, one that gives me purpose. There is real history here, too, bringing my Nigerian heritage to our TV. It’s going to be different than anything you see.
“I am really grateful for this opportunity, and I’m giving people everything to the best of my ability. I can’t wait to see where it goes next.”
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