Apollo Crews recalls Big E first suggesting the idea of bringing African heritage onto WWE TV

While Apollo Crews and Big E were talking about their feud, E suggested the idea of Crews bringing his heritage on-screen

Photo Courtesy: WWE

Crews recalls his conversation with Big E about bringing his heritage onto TV. 

Since the summer of 2022, Apollo Crews has been part of the NXT brand. In December, he headlined the ‘Deadline’ Premium Live Event and challenged Bron Breakker for the NXT Championship. 

Crews was a guest on Ryan Satin’s Out of Character podcast and took a look back at his ‘Nigerian Royalty’ persona that was established in 2021. He shared that the concept was first brought to mind by Big E, who he was feuding with at the time. 

Initially, Crews was unsure about it because he felt that he would be asked to do an accent. When the idea was formally pitched to him, the accent was one of the first things mentioned to Crews. He wanted to make sure that if he did the character, he would be representing it the right way. 

When the idea was presented of getting in touch with my roots, it’s funny because I was talking to Big E one day. It was when we were kind of going into the WrestleMania [37] program and he said, ‘You know what I think would be cool? Is if you kind of brought any type of African heritage onto TV’ because at that time, there really wasn’t any African representation. Since then, there’s been Omos of course that’s also representing Africa as well but I told E, I said, ‘You know what? I would love to do that but I know the first thing that they’re gonna want me to do is have an accent’ (Crews laughed) and then when that idea was presented, I heard the first thing that came back was, ‘Is he gonna have an accent?’ And I was like, geez. Why is that the first thing that comes to anybody’s mind when you’re talking about playing an African character or anything like that? But, this is my job. If I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna do it to the absolute best of my ability and that’s what I felt like I did, and I wanted to be respectable with it, you know what I mean? I didn’t know what the feedback would be. It’s like, here’s this guy who isn’t really that in touch with his roots, who doesn’t know too much about his actual heritage, portraying a character that may not be seen in a positive light to a lot of African people or Nigerian people so, dealing with that was kind of, you know, that was a whole little issue in itself but again, at the end of the day, this is a job and I was gonna do the best job that I can and make sure that I was able to bring this character to life.

Crews went on to state that he appreciated the feedback he received from his co-workers about the character. He believes people thought he did not have that level of intensity in him because behind the scenes, he’s always in a good mood. 

A lot of the feedback that I got from my co-workers (about the ‘Nigerian Royalty’ persona), it was amazing. I don’t think anybody had seen me in that light. It was kind of like, you know, Apollo, he’s this nice guy and everything but no one’s really seen me angry or seen any different side of me besides smiling… Probably all the time, I’m in a great mood, smiling so, a lot of, I just don’t think people honestly thought I was capable to do anything outside of what they saw so, it was nice to get a lot of feedback from some of the guys that I work with.

Apollo is scheduled to be in action on tonight’s NXT on USA Network. He’ll be facing Carmelo Hayes in singles competition. 

If the quotes in this article are used, please credit ‘Out of Character’ with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions. 

About Andrew Thompson 8722 Articles
A Washington D.C. native and graduate of Norfolk State University, Andrew Thompson has been covering wrestling since 2017.