Putting Titus O’Neil with Apollo Crews could be the most effective use of the former WWE Tag Team champion.
Believe it or not, it was seven years ago this month Titus O’Neil debuted in WWE as part of the second season of NXT. Of course, the black-and-yellow brand was far from what it is today, and at that point, it carried a competition show-style format where rookies fought for a spot on the main roster.
Unsurprisingly, with Zack Ryder serving as his pro, O’Neil did not last long and was quickly eliminated from the program. Although he hadn’t improved immensely by the time he resurfaced in early 2011 for NXT: Redemption, he had become much more of a fan favorite by way of his crazy charisma.
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Coming out of the competition that never received a proper conclusion, O’Neil teamed up with Darren Young and joined the SmackDown brand. Collectively known as The Prime Time Players, O’Neil and Young had excellent chemistry as a tandem and injected excitement into WWE’s tag team division up until their split in early 2014.
At the time, it appeared officials had high hopes for O’Neil as a singles star, but he never amounted to any level of success in singles competition, especially as a heel. He was an undercard competitor at best, and it wasn’t long before he and Young reunited for one more run.
Thankfully, the duo were finally able to clinch tag team title gold at Money in the Bank 2015, but it was obvious management still had plans to push O’Neil on his own once their reign inevitably came to an end.Photo Credit: Titus O’Neil/WWE 2017
For as likable as O’Neil is as a face (and as obnoxious as he is as a heel), I honestly never saw much of a future for him as a wrestler. He can be hit or miss on the mic and does an incredible amount of charity, but his in-ring ability has always left a lot to be desired.
He is no better a competitor at the moment than he was when he initially arrived on the scene, which is why I’m surprised WWE hadn’t found a more fitting place for him on the show before now. That said, it seems he has settled into his role as a manager for Apollo Crews, a role he should thrive in going forward.
At first glance, O’Neil and Crews look like a pairing you wouldn’t necessarily care about. After all, neither of them have been involved in anything noteworthy lately and have mostly been taking part in forgettable feuds and meaningless matches.
That said, with a little creative freedom (and that’s obviously hard to come by nowadays), they could be a ton of fun together. That was evident in their fallout video from Raw this past week where they held a phony press conference and played well off each other (as seen below).
O’Neil may not be destined for the world championship picture, but Crews certainly is, and with some help from the Titus Brand, he could wind up in elite company in due time.
So far, Crews has failed to live up to the lofty expectations set by fans when he joined the main roster in April 2016. Of course, it was way too early for him to be brought up to Raw and his lack of direction forced him to flounder for the remainder of the year.
However, the former Uhaa Nation is not yet damaged goods, as he could still bounce back and live up to his full potential as a future main event player. It will take time to rehab him, though, and this angle with O’Neil is definitely a step in the right direction.
Crews can be counted on for a quality performance every time he steps inside the squared circle, but he has yet to cut a memorable promo since coming to the grand stage of WWE. Thus, O’Neil can serve as his mouthpiece and elevate him to the level he deserves to be at.
In order to accomplish that, Crews should be going toe-to-toe with talent that actually matter, not losing to Kalisto in minute-long matches. WWE must make him a priority, starting with his alliance with O’Neil and giving them more television time.
In what could turn out to be a highly entertaining act, fans shouldn’t sleep on the partnership between Crews and O’Neil for what they have to offer.