Apollo Crews

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Apollo Crews
Apollo Crews 2017.jpg
Crews in May 2017
Birth nameSesugh Uhaa[1]
Born (1987-08-22) August 22, 1987 (age 32)[2]
Sacramento, California, United States[3]
ResidenceOrlando, Florida, United States[4]
Children2
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Apollo[5]
Apollo Crews[6]
Uhaa Nation
Billed height6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)[6]
Billed weight240 lb (110 kg)[6]
Billed fromStone Mountain, Georgia[6]
Trained byMr. Hughes[7][8]
DebutAugust 17, 2009[9][10]

Sesugh Uhaa[1][11] (born August 22, 1987)[2] is an American professional wrestler currently signed to WWE, where he performs on the Raw brand under the ring name Apollo Crews. He is the current WWE United States Champion in his first reign.

He started his career in 2009, originally working under the ring name Uhaa Nation,[7] and made his breakthrough in 2011, when he was signed by the Dragon Gate USA promotion, which also led to him making his first trip to Japan to work for Dragon Gate. In 2014, Uhaa signed with WWE and was assigned to its developmental brand NXT, where he was given the ring name, Apollo Crews. He was promoted to WWE's main roster in April 2016. Standing at 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) and weighing 240 lb (110 kg), Uhaa is known both as a high-flyer and a power wrestler.[12][13][14]

Early life[edit]

Sesugh Uhaa was born on August 22, 1987 in Sacramento, California, and was raised in Atlanta, Georgia and early on fell in love with professional wrestling,[10] becoming a fan of performers such as "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, The Rock and especially Kurt Angle.[12][13] He went to a military high school and began practicing various sports, including amateur wrestling, soccer, football and track and field,[15][16] as both an outlet and a way to "get away from the military life".[12] While weight training in high school, he was given the nickname "Uhaa Nation", when his coach noted that he was "as strong as a single nation".[10]

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Early career (2009–2011)[edit]

After finishing college, Uhaa quickly got a job in order to pay for his professional wrestling training.[13] He began training at the age of 21 under Mr. Hughes at his World Wrestling Alliance 4 (WWA4) promotion's training school in Atlanta.[7][13] After making his wrestling debut under the ring name Uhaa Nation on August 17, 2009,[10] he spent over a year working mainly for small promotions on the Georgian independent circuit, but also made trips to Houston, Texas-based Pro Wrestling Alliance (PWA) and Phenix City, Alabama-based Great Championship Wrestling (GCW),[10][17] often working with fellow WWA4 trainee AR Fox.[18]

Dragon Gate and affiliates (2011–2015)[edit]

On September 9, 2011, Uhaa took part in a tryout seminar held by the Dragon Gate USA promotion.[7] He was immediately signed for appearances for not only Dragon Gate USA, but also its parent promotion, Dragon Gate, and close affiliates Evolve and Full Impact Pro (FIP).[7] He made his wrestling debut for Dragon Gate USA later that same day, defeating Aaron Draven in a squash match.[19] Uhaa made his pay-per-view debut the following day at Untouchable 2011, where he answered Brodie Lee's open challenge and dominated him, before Lee left the ringside area.[20][21] The following day at the Way of the Ronin 2011 pay-per-view, Uhaa defeated Facade, Flip Kendrick and Sugar Dunkerton in a four-way match.[22] On October 29, Uhaa made his first appearance for Full Impact Pro, when he defeated Jake Manning for FIP Florida Heritage Championship.[23] Uhaa then entered a storyline, where different Dragon Gate USA stables tried to recruit him to join them.[24] On November 30, Uhaa made his Japanese debut for Dragon Gate, during an event produced by the villainous Blood Warriors stable. Uhaa defeated Kotoka in a match that lasted 99 seconds, establishing himself as the newest member of Blood Warriors in the process.[25] For the rest of the tour, which lasted until December 25, Uhaa worked alongside the Blood Warriors stable, winning every one of his matches.[26][27] At the end of 2011, Dragon Gate USA named Uhaa the Best Newcomer of the year.[7] He also finished second behind Daichi Hashimoto in Wrestling Observer Newsletter's award category for Rookie of the Year.[28]

Upon his return to the United States, Uhaa made his debut for Evolve on January 14, 2012, with a win over Pinkie Sanchez.[29][30] When the following March, Akira Tozawa took over the leadership of Blood Warriors from Cima and renamed the group Mad Blankey, Uhaa Nation followed along to the renamed stable.[7] Uhaa made his first appearance representing Mad Blankey at a DGUSA event on March 29, when he and stablemates Akira Tozawa and BxB Hulk defeated Ronin (Chuck Taylor, Johnny Gargano and Rich Swann) and D.U.F. (Arik Cannon, Pinkie Sanchez and Sami Callihan) in a three-way trios match.[31] However, during the match Uhaa suffered a knee injury, which sidelined him for a year.[32][33] Uhaa returned to the ring on February 1, 2013, at Full Impact Pro's Everything Burns iPPV, where he successfully defended the FIP Florida Heritage Championship against Chasyn Rance.[34] On March 2, Uhaa returned to Japan and Dragon Gate, when he and BxB Hulk defeated Don Fujii and Masaaki Mochizuki for the Open the Twin Gate Championship.[35] They lost the title to Shingo Takagi and Yamato on May 5.[36] On May 11, Uhaa was pinned for the first time in a Dragon Gate ring, when he was eliminated by Jimmy Susumu in the first round of the 2013 King of Gate tournament.[37] On July 28 at Enter the Dragon 2013, Dragon Gate USA's fourth anniversary event, Uhaa suffered his first pinfall loss in the promotion, when he was defeated by Anthony Nese.[38] On August 9, Uhaa lost the FIP Florida Heritage Championship to Gran Akuma.[39] Back in Dragon Gate, Mad Blankey turned on Uhaa Nation on August 30, after he refused to wrestle Akira Tozawa, who had recently been kicked out of the group. Uhaa then formed a new partnership with Tozawa and Shingo Takagi.[40][41] On September 12, the three were joined by Masato Yoshino, Ricochet and Shachihoko Boy to form a new stable,[42] which was on October 6 named Monster Express.[43] On January 12, 2014, Uhaa received his first shot at Dragon Gate USA's top title, the Open the Freedom Gate Championship, but was defeated by the defending champion, Johnny Gargano.[44] On March 6, Uhaa also received his first shot at Dragon Gate's top title, the Open the Dream Gate Championship, but was defeated by the defending champion, Monster Express stablemate Ricochet.[45] On May 23, it was reported that Uhaa had signed a new contract with Dragon Gate USA.[46]

On February 5, 2015, Uhaa made returned to Dragon Gate as Akira Tozawa's surprise partner in a tag team match, where they defeated Cyber Kong and Don Fujii.[47] At the end of the event, Uhaa confronted BxB Hulk, challenging him to a match for the Open the Dream Gate Championship.[48] On March 1, Uhaa failed in his title challenge against Hulk, after which he announced he had wrestled his final match for Dragon Gate.[49] Uhaa worked his final Evolve events later that month during WWNLive's WrestleMania week.[13][50]

WWE[edit]

NXT (2014–2016)[edit]

In October 2014, Uhaa took part in a WWE tryout camp, resulting in him being offered a developmental contract.[12][51] Starting on December 31, 2014, multiple sources reported that Uhaa had come to terms on a contract with WWE.[1][52] Uhaa reported to the WWE Performance Center, the home of their NXT developmental brand, on April 6, 2015.[53] WWE officially announced Uhaa as part of a new class of NXT recruits in a press release on April 13.[11] Uhaa made his first televised appearance on the May 6 episode of NXT, signing an NXT contract in a segment with William Regal.[54] Uhaa started working NXT house shows the following month, retaining the Uhaa Nation ring name.[55][56][57]

Crews in April 2016

On August 5, it was announced that Uhaa, now working under the new ring name Apollo Crews, would be making his televised NXT in-ring debut on August 22 at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn.[58] At NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn, Crews defeated Tye Dillinger in his debut.[59] Crews made his NXT debut on the September 2 episode of NXT, defeating Martin Stone.[60] At NXT TakeOver: Respect, Crews defeated Tyler Breeze.[61] On the October 14 episode of NXT, Crews won a battle royal to become the number one contender to the NXT Championship.[62] Crews received his title shot against Finn Bálor on the November 4 episode of NXT,[63] winning the match by disqualification, when he was attacked by Baron Corbin, who held a grudge against Crews for eliminating him from the number one contender's battle royal.[64] The rivalry between Crews and Corbin led to a match at NXT TakeOver: London, which Corbin won.[65] Crews then started a feud with Elias Samson, after Crews saved Johnny Gargano from Samson's assault on the March 23, 2016 episode of NXT.[66] The two would subsequently have a match on the April 6 episode of NXT, which was won by Crews.[67]

Main roster beginnings and Titus Worldwide (2016–2019)[edit]

On April 4, 2016 episode of Raw, Crews made his main roster debut by defeating Tyler Breeze.[68] Crews remained undefeated over the following weeks, defeating the likes of Curtis Axel,[69] Adam Rose,[70] Heath Slater[71] and Stardust.[72] He suffered his first loss in WWE on the May 23 episode of Raw, when he was defeated by Chris Jericho in a Money in the Bank qualifying match, after Sheamus attacked Crews before the match.[73][74] Crews and Sheamus faced off at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, where Crews was victorious.[75]

As part of the draft on July 19, Crews was drafted to the SmackDown brand.[76] On the August 2 episode of SmackDown, Crews defeated Kalisto and Baron Corbin in a triple threat match to become the number one contender to the Intercontinental Championship.[77] Crews received his title shot on August 21 at SummerSlam, but was defeated by The Miz.[78] On the Backlash pre-show on September 11, Crews was defeated Corbin.[79] At TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs in December, Crews teamed with American Alpha (Chad Gable and Jason Jordan) and The Hype Bros (Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder) in a win over Curt Hawkins, The Vaudevillains (Aiden English and Simon Gotch), and The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor) in a 10-man tag team match.[80]

At the Royal Rumble on January 29, 2017, Crews took part in his first Royal Rumble match, entering as number 22 and being eliminated by Luke Harper.[81] Crews then teamed up with Kalisto to feud with Dolph Ziggler, after Ziggler attacked Kalisto.[82] At Elimination Chamber, Crews and Kalisto defeated Ziggler in a 2-on-1 handicap match.[83] Following the match, Ziggler attacked the two, injuring Crews' ankle, which was trapped in a chair.[84] This led to a chairs match on the February 28 episode of SmackDown, where Ziggler was victorious.[85] At WrestleMania 33, Crews competed in the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, which was won by Mojo Rawley.[86]

Crews (left) along with his fellow Titus Worldwide partners Dana Brooke and Titus O'Neil in April 2018

As part of the Superstar Shake-up, Crews was moved to the Raw brand.[87] Shortly thereafter, a storyline began with Titus O'Neil offering Crews his managerial services.[88] After becoming affiliated with "The Titus Brand", Crews started displaying attitude and cockiness.[89] On the May 22 episode of Raw, Kalisto confronted Crews about his alliance with The Titus Brand, resulting in a match between the two, which Crews lost.[90] At Extreme Rules, Crews was defeated by Kalisto.[91] During that period, Akira Tozawa joined the Titus Brand, turning it into "Titus Worldwide".[92] Crews would then enter a short feud with Elias, where Crews lost to Elias at No Mercy,[93] the following night on Raw and October 9 episode of Raw.[94] During this time, Dana Brooke also joined Titus Worldwide as their manager, and Tozawa quietly left the faction.[95]

On the January 8, 2018 and January 15 episodes of Raw, Crews and O'Neil defeated Raw Tag Team Champions Cesaro and Sheamus in upset victories.[96][97] At Royal Rumble, Crews entered the Royal Rumble as the thirteenth entrant, being eliminated by Cesaro.[98] On February 19, his ring name was shortened to simply "Apollo".[5] At Elimination Chamber on February 25, Apollo and O'Neil failed to capture the titles,[99] and were again unsuccessful in a rematch the following night on Raw.[100] At WrestleMania 34, Apollo competed in the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, in which he was unsuccessful.[101] On the April 16 episode of Raw, his ring name was reverted to Apollo Crews.[102] On April 27 at the Greatest Royal Rumble, Crews entered the Royal Rumble match at number 33, in which he eliminated Chad Gable before eliminated by Randy Orton.[103] On the September 3 episode of Raw, Dana Brooke parted ways with Titus Worldwide after a mid-match coaching backfired, causing Brooke to lost her match.[104]

On the October 15 episode of Raw, Crews returned as a singles competitor when he interrupted Elias during his performance, thus disbanding Titus Worldwide.[105] The following week, he lost to Elias.[106] On the December 31 episode of Raw, Crews won a battle royal by eliminating eight wrestlers to become the number one contender for the Intercontinental Championship against Dean Ambrose.[107] That same night, he was defeated by Ambrose.[108] On January 27, 2019, at the Royal Rumble, Crews competed in the Royal Rumble match, where he was eliminated by Baron Corbin.[109] At WrestleMania 35, Crews competed in the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, but was eliminated by Andrade.[110] As part of Superstar Shake-up, Crews was drafted back to the SmackDown brand.[111] At Super ShowDown in June 7, Crews unsuccessfully competed in the 51-man battle royal.[112][113] In August, Crews competed in the King of the Ring tournament, where was defeated by Andrade in the first round.[114]

At SummerSlam on August 11, Crews faced Buddy Murphy in his only singles match on pay-per-view during 2019; the match quickly ended in a disqualification loss for Crews after interference from Erick Rowan.[115] At Crown Jewel on October 31, Crews wrestled in a 20-man battle royal, which was ultimately won by Humberto Carrillo.[116]

United States Champion (2020–present)[edit]

On the April 6, 2020 episode of Raw, Crews was traded to Raw, where he was defeated by Aleister Black in his most competitive match to date lasting 27 minutes.[117] On the April 20 episode of Raw, Crews defeated MVP to qualify for the Money in the Bank ladder match.[118] However, he injured his knee in a United States Championship match against Andrade the following week, ruling him out of the ladder match.[119][120] On the May 18 episode of Raw, Crews returned in a tag team match with Kevin Owens to defeat Andrade and Angel Garza.[121]

On the May 25 episode of Raw, Crews defeated Andrade to win the United States Championship, his first ever championship in WWE.[122] At Backlash, Crews once again retained his championship against Andrade after an assist by Kevin Owens. On the June 15 episode of Raw, Crews was approached by MVP who offered him his services stating that he could help him reach the top as United States Champion but Crews turned him down. Later on in the night, Crews defeated Shelton Benjamin by using the ropes as leverage teasing a possible heel turn for Crews.[123] The following week on Raw, Crews was a guest on MVP's VIP Lounge who once again offered Crews his services but Crews insisted that he didn't need MVP nor did he need him to win the United States Championship. Crews was then attacked by Benjamin before their scheduled match but managed to defeat Benjamin. After the match, Crews was attacked by MVP's client Bobby Lashley who put him in his full nelson hold.[124] On the June 29 episode of Raw, Crews was defeated by MVP in a non-title match which led to MVP unveiling a new United States Title design and declaring himself as the "real" United States Champion. This set up a United States Championship match between Crews and MVP at The Horror Show at Extreme Rules; however, Crews was absent at the event, due to supposedly testing positive for COVID-19, with MVP unofficially declaring himself the new United States Champion.[125] On the August 3 episode of Raw, Crews returned and retained the United States title against MVP taking MVP's United States Title design in the process.[126]

Other media[edit]

Crews has appeared in the video games as a playable character in WWE 2K17 (as a downloadable character),[127] WWE 2K18,[128] WWE 2K19,[129] and WWE 2K20.[130]

Personal life[edit]

Uhaa is of Nigerian-Ugandan descent.[11] His father is originally from the Kampala in the mid-belt region of Uganda. His mother is from Benue State, Nigeria.[131] Uhaa has a sister, who is in the United States Army and is stationed in San Antonio, Texas.[132]

Uhaa attended Auburn University. While in college he pledged Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.

Uhaa is married to Linda Palonen and they have a daughter, named Sade (born June 22, 2017)[133] and a son, Kai (born February 9, 2019).[134]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

References[edit]

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