He started his career in 2009, originally working under the ring name Uhaa Nation, 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 2015, 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 on April 4, 2016. Standing at 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) and weighing 260 lbs (118 kg), Uhaa is known both as a high-flyer and a power wrestler.
Born in Sacramento, California, Uhaa was raised in Atlanta, Georgia and early on fell in love with professional wrestling, becoming a fan of performers such as Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock and especially Kurt Angle. He went to a military high school and began practicing various sports, including amateur wrestling, soccer, football and track and field, as both an outlet and a way to "get away from the military life". 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".
Professional wrestling career
In 2009, Uhaa began training professional wrestling under Curtis "Mr." Hughes at his World Wrestling Alliance 4 (WWA4) promotion's training school in Atlanta. After making his wrestling debut under the ring name Uhaa Nation on August 17, 2009, 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), often working with fellow WWA4 trainee AR Fox.
Dragon Gate and affiliates (2011–2012)
On September 9, 2011, Uhaa took part in a tryout seminar held by the Dragon Gate USA promotion. 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). He made his wrestling debut for Dragon Gate USA later that same day, defeating Aaron Draven in a squash match. 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. 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. On October 29, Uhaa made his first appearance for Full Impact Pro, when he defeated Jake Manning for FIP Florida Heritage Championship. Uhaa then entered a storyline, where different Dragon Gate USA stables tried to recruit him to join them. 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. For the rest of the tour, which lasted until December 25, Uhaa worked alongside the Blood Warriors stable, winning every one of his matches. At the end of 2011, Dragon Gate USA named Uhaa the Best Newcomer of the year. He also finished second behind Daichi Hashimoto in Wrestling Observer Newsletter's award category for Rookie of the Year.
Upon his return to the United States, Uhaa made his debut for Evolve on January 14, 2012, with a win over Pinkie Sanchez. 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. On March 29, Uhaa made his first appearance representing Mad Blankey, 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. However, during the match Uhaa suffered a knee injury, which, according to his physician, could sideline him for up to a year. 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. 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. They lost the title to Shingo Takagi and Yamato on May 5. 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. 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. On August 9, Uhaa lost the FIP Florida Heritage Championship to Gran Akuma. 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. On September 12, the three were joined by Masato Yoshino, Ricochet and Shachihoko Boy to form a new stable, which was on October 6 named Monster Express.
In October 2014, Uhaa took part in a WWE tryout camp, resulting in him being offered a developmental contract. Starting on December 31, 2014, multiple sources reported that Uhaa had come to terms on a contract with WWE. Uhaa reported to the WWE Performance Center, the home of their NXT developmental brand, on April 6, 2015. WWE officially announced Uhaa as part of a new class of NXT recruits in a press release on April 13. Uhaa made his first televised appearance on the May 6 episode of NXT, signing an NXT contract in a segment with William Regal. Uhaa started working NXT house shows the following month, retaining the Uhaa Nation ring name.
On August 5, it was announced that Uhaa, now working under the new ring name "Apollo Crews", would be making his televised NXT debut on August 22 at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn. Crews made his debut at the August 13 tapings, which would air after NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn, defeating Martin Stone. At NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn, Crews defeated Tye Dillinger in his official debut match. At the October 8 tapings of NXT, Crews won a battle royal to become the #1 contender to the NXT Championship. Crews received his title shot against Finn Bálor on October 22, winning the match, but not the title, by disqualification, when he was attacked by Baron Corbin, who held a grudge against Crews for eliminating him from the #1 contender's battle royal. The rivalry between Crews and Corbin led to a match at NXT TakeOver: London, which Corbin won. Crews had a small feud with Elias Samson after he saved Johnny Gargano from Elias' assault on the March 23, 2016, NXT. The two would subsequently have a match on the April 6 NXT, which was won by Crews.
Main roster (2016–present)
On April 4, 2016, Crews made his main roster debut on Raw, defeating Tyler Breeze. Crews then entered a feud with the Social Outcasts, defeating each member of the stable, culminating in a match on the April 18 Raw. Prior to the match, Crews agreed to join the Social Outcasts if any member of the stable could defeat him. As part of the agreement, the Social Outcasts also agreed to leave Crews alone if he won the match. Crews defeated Heath Slater to end the feud. Crews suffered his first loss on the main roster on the May 23 Raw, losing to Chris Jericho in a Money in the Bank qualifying match. The loss was blamed on Sheamus' pre-match attack on Crews, starting a feud between the two. Crews and Sheamus faced off at Money in the Bank, where Crews was victorious.
On July 19, Crews was drafted to the SmackDown brand in the 2016 WWE draft. On the July 26 SmackDown, Crews won a battle royal to earn a spot in a six-pack challenge to determine the #1 contender to Dean Ambrose's WWE World Championship at SummerSlam. Later that same episode, Crews was defeated by Dolph Ziggler in the six-pack challenge, which also included AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, Bray Wyatt and John Cena. The following week, Crews defeated Corbin and Kalisto to become the #1 contender to the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Crews received his title shot on August 21 at SummerSlam, but was defeated by The Miz. Crews defeated The Miz in a non-title match at the 2016 Tribute to the Troops, which led to a title match on the December 20 SmackDown, where The Miz retained his title. On January 29, 2017, at Royal Rumble, Crews took part in his first Royal Rumble match, entering as number 22 and being eliminated by Luke Harper. In early 2017, Crews teamed up with Kalisto for a feud against Dolph Ziggler, after Ziggler had turned on Kalisto. At Elimination Chamber, Crews and Kalisto defeated Ziggler in a two-on-one handicap match with Crews scoring the pinfall. Following the match, Ziggler attacked the victors, stomping on Crews' ankle after placing it in a chair. This led to a chairs match on the February 28 SmackDown, where Ziggler was victorious.
On April 10, Crews was moved to the Raw brand as part of the Superstar Shake-Up.
- Finishing moves
- As Apollo Crews
- Gorilla press drop followed by a standing moonsault
- The Chariot (Spin-out powerbomb)
- As Uhaa Nation
- Standing shooting star press
- Uhaa Combination (Gorilla press drop followed by a standing moonsault followed by a standing shooting star press)
- As Apollo Crews
- Signature moves
- All Out Assault (Triple powerbomb)
- Delayed vertical suplex
- Fallaway Samoan Drop
- Jumping Lariat
- Kneeling reverse piledriver
- Standing moonsault
- Suicide dive
- "One Man Nation"
- Entrance themes
Championships and accomplishments
- Dragon Gate USA
- Best Newcomer (2011)
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI ranked him #155 of the 500 best singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2012
- Profile at CAGEMATCH.net
- Profile at Wrestling Data.com
- Profile on Southside Wrestling Entertainment
- Uhaa Nation Profile on Alternative Wrestling.co.uk
- Dragon Gate Profile