Current WWE United States Champion Apollo Crews recently sat down with Newsweek to talk about his career trajectory in WWE. He took time to look back at rising up through the indies, debuting with NXT, and then transitioning up on to WWE's main roster.
"At the time, you don't think about [if you should stay in NXT longer]. You get that news [about being called up] and in that moment you're not thinking, 'No, I need to stay longer and develop this character more,' or anything like that," Crews explained. "When you're told that you're going to debut on Monday Night RAW or SmackDown...a lot of stuff goes through your head, but for me one thing that didn't go through my head was maybe I need to stay [in NXT] a little longer.
"And when I look back at it, I would have loved to stay in NXT a little longer so I could do those things like develop my character, and figure out who Apollo Crews is, and learn how to react in certain situations," he continued. "Allow the people to see me be angry, sad, happy, to see those different emotions so they can know that I have these different layers. It's not just a guy who comes out smiling and does flips and other cool stuff.
"It's also hard making that transition from the indies to NXT. Just to be able to learn that style takes some time especially when you come out there and get thrown on TV quickly or asked to debut." Apollo added. "I got to debut in the first NXT Takeover: Brooklyn so it's not one of those things where you tell them, 'I'm glad you want to do that with me, but I want to wait a little longer,' you know what I mean? It's just not real. Some people might think like that, but it's not what I think of. When I look back, it would have been nice to have more time for all of that to come together."
As noted, Paul Heyman was removed from his position as Executive Director of RAW earlier this year and replaced by Bruce Prichard. Crews has said in the past that Heyman was very hands-on with him, and he credited a lot of his recent success in the company to Paul's influence.
Nonetheless, Apollo believes that success will continue for him even with Prichard as the Executive Director of the show. He says that he will take this opportunity he was given and run with it for as long as possible.
"Since I've shown that I'm reliable and trustworthy, it doesn't necessarily matter too much, so that helps me in that sense. I don't feel like it's going to work against me," Crews said. "Working with Heyman was fantastic. He was so hands-on with me and he helped me a lot. He was one of the main reasons for me getting this opportunity and I'm very thankful for everything he's done for me and helped me with.
"All I could do is look toward the future and I'm looking forward to working with Bruce [Prichard] as well. We're going to make magic together and I'm excited for what's to come and where I'm at right now," Crews explained. "The company is seeing what I'm capable of after these past few months taking this opportunity and running with it.
Apollo says that this is the time to stay humble and motivated towards reaching his goals.
"Every now and then I think about those [past] moments and it keeps me humble and hungry, knowing where I could have been and where I could have still been. And that's what drives me. Once you get complacent, that's where things shift and go in the wrong direction," Crew finished.
As noted, Apollo Crews will put his United States Championship on the line this Sunday at "The Horror Show At Extreme Rules" against in-ring veteran, MVP.