Apollo Crews has evolved into quite the leader and threat over the past year, and this transformation and renewed aggression resulted in a very beneficial partnership with Commander Azeez and a run as Intercontinental Champion. Now Crews is ready to catapult himself into the title mix once more as he looks to survive and emerge victorious from the 30 Man Royal Rumble match. It's a crowded field, but Crews isn't deterred and is ready to have that Championship gold around his waist once more. ComicBook.com had the chance to speak to Crews all about the Rumble and his run as Intercontinental Champion, as well as what else he hopes to achieve in 2022 and making a feud with the Bloodline happen.
First though we wanted to know what a Rumble win would mean to him at this point in his career, and for Crews, it would be the perfect fire to propel him forward and get this new year started in the right way.
"Lately things have been kind of stagnant, so for me, it would be...I got to go to WrestleMania last year and just that feeling of leading up to WrestleMania is what I live for, and I need that feeling again. That's the type of person I am. I was saying that as soon as WrestleMania's over, as soon as my match was over, won the title, and the next day I wanted to get on that prep again. I was back in the gym and I just wanted that feeling, and I look back and I should've taken the time to enjoy, but that's just how I'm built," Crews said. So, it would kind of light that fire up under me again. Not that it's out or anything, but I just find myself sometimes in a place where it's like, which way do we go. Do you know what I mean? So for me, it would be, all right here it is. Clear direction, I know what I'm doing."
Whoever wins the Rumble match will face Bobby Lashley for the title, and that's the match-up Crews was hoping for. "So to answer your question, I think I'm rooting for Lashley just because I have a personal relationship with him. I want to see him do well," Crews said. "Not that he isn't doing well, he's doing amazing. I think that it's cool that he's in the second part of his career and he's doing just as good if not better than the first. Easily my favorite run, and I used to love him back when I was in college and stuff, so I'd definitely be rooting for him."
Crews went through a major transformation last year in his heel turn, and it ended up working out quite well for Crews and Azeez. Changing up a character is always a challenge, but for Crews, the biggest challenge of that evolution was the accent.
"I'd say the accent of course, because it's just something that was so different. People weren't used to that so I think that for me, and that's something I used to do as a kid when I was with all my Nigerian friends and my brothers and sisters. It's so weird because you find other Nigerian-American kids and you just naturally gravitate towards them," Crews said. "Because you just have that in common, but I think that is easily the hardest part. People would try to get me to do that accent as a kid and I hated it because I know, do it again, do it again, and I didn't want to be that. So for me to go and do that in front of millions of people was a huge challenge, but I think life is all about stepping outside that comfort zone and doing those things that you're uncomfortable with and it ended up being the best thing that I've done because 2021 was easily the best year of my career."
Crews had already held the United States Championship, and while he enjoyed that run, the Intercontinental Championship holds a special place for him, and he really wouldn't change anything about it aside from one thing.
"When I won the United States championship, I was just, oh my goodness, I can't believe it," Crews said. "For me, winning the Intercontinental title was more of, I deserve this, you know what I mean? This is what I deserve. So, there's nothing I would change on my approach because I felt I did everything possible that I could to be the best intercontinental Champion I could be. It was cool because I got to work with people like Kevin, Sammy, E, we're working with so many different people at the time so it was a great time. I don't think there's anything I would change except, of course, holding the title longer. But, you know, some things are just out of your control."
Now, with a lethal duo like Crews and Azeez on SmackDown, it really seems odd that we haven't received a feud with The Bloodline. Both require respect and don't mind playing dirty to get what they want, and it feels like a match made in heaven. Crews thinks so too, and would more than be up for a throwdown.
"Right, see. Speak it into existence, speak it into existence," Crews said with a laugh. "You know what I'm saying. There it is. It's bold. Speak it into existence. And those guys are killing it right now, man. I'd love to go in there and be a part of that in any kind of way."
Part of the fun of the Rumble is the surprise entrants, and when we asked what his dream surprise would be for the Rumble roster, he had a perfect candidate and a go-to headline ready to go. "Cristiano Ronaldo, soccer player. Just so I can throw him out though. That's the only reason," Crews said. "What kind of headline would that make? Apollo Crews eliminates Cristiano Ronaldo from the Royal Rumble."
Crews has already had some amazing moments in his WWE career, and I'm a fan of Funko and toys in general, With that in mind, if he could have his favorite WWE moment recreated as a Funko Moments, what would it be?
"Easily winning the Intercontinental Title at WrestleMania. I think it would be the whole thing as Big E's coming in, you know, he hit me with the Big Ending as he's coming in to throw him off, Azeez, boom, drag me on top. We got a new Champion with me standing on the rope. Then they can do it with me walking back up. You got the whole thing," Crews said.
Now, this was shaping up to be a pretty expensive Funko Moments, and it even had pyro, but you gotta go big sometimes. "Hey I hear you, hey I got two kids, I got two kids, you know what I mean? Exactly, right. And it'll be one of those limited-edition things, right. Get supplies while they last. But honestly, just that WrestleMania moment man, I think that would easily be the one I'd definitely put into toy form," Crews said.
Crews has a lot he wants to accomplish in 2022, but when you boil it down, he wants that gold back, and he isn't going to settle until he gets it.
"Man, I'd have to be a Champion again. Being champion, you're the guy. You know what I mean? Whichever title, intercontinental, United States, Universal, WWE, you're the guy," Crews said. "You're the guy that everybody wants, you're the guy that's in the spotlight. And for me I feel like, Winning the title's the easy part. Staying champion is where the work really starts, and I just love that grind. I'm all about that grind. That's what it is. Performing and entertaining and giving the fans what they want to see, and they want to see me (laughs)."
You can watch Crews in action right now during WWE's Royal Rumble, which is streaming live on Peacock.
What do you want to see from Crews in 2022? Let us know in the comments!0comments