The modern American wrestling powered by the McMahon family dynasty for centuries through the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is a big thriving business generating billions of Dollars revenue annually. It is often violent and bloody the competition for gold and name and money. Great names like Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, Steve Austin, Triple H, Edge, Roman Reigns, John Cena, Seth Rollins etc were made by the exhibition of cruelty, ruthlessness, talent and ambition marked by the desire to not only strike gold by wearing the coveted championship belts around waists but by being on top of the mountain as champions. In WWE brain and brawn often combines to provide power and glory.
I am an avid follower of the American professional wrestling for decades now. I love organized modern wrestling and the WWE remains the best in that field. Sometimes during their monthly pay-per-view programmes I stay awake at wee hours of the night following proceedings live on the WWE TV digital network. Weekly I follow religiously ‘Smackdown’ and ‘Raw’ live as they air globally.
Apollo Crews (real names Sesugh Uhaa) is an American professional wrestler of Nigerian descent. He had once been crowned the US Champion. Sesugh Uhaa was born on August 22, 1987 in Sacramento, California, and was raised in Atlanta, Georgia. His father is originally from Vandeikya Local Government Area of Benue State in Nigeria. His mother is also from Benue State.
Uhaa is married to Linda Palonen and they have a daughter, named Sade and a son, Kai. He is strong, well-built and talented.
Currently his quest for the Intercontinental championship has seen him transformed. His first attempt to win the belt was twarted by the current titleholder, Ettore Ewen, alias Big E. Big E is also an African-American wrestler who was once with the ‘New Day’ group comprising Koffi Kingston and Xavier Woods.
Apollo Crews‘ failure to capture the championship gold on occasions more than one led to frustration and chaos inside the squared circle. He brutally attacked the Champion taking him out by dropping the steel step onto him outside the ring as he was laid out! Big E spent weeks recuperating from the injuries he sustained during the heinous assault.
Channelling his ‘Naija’ heritage, week in week out, on ‘Smackdown’ aired every weekend Sesugh has suddenly become aggressive. With ‘Naija’ armband, staff and green-white-coloured scarf worn around his neck he would launch into a tirade against his opponent bringing his ancestral Nigerian roots into the larger picture. He was arrogant yet impressive as he told the global audience of the indomitable ‘Naija’ spirit!
One thing that struck me as he vaunted his Nigerian heritage was his pride, the audacity of hope. How can someone born and based in America be that proud of a Nigeria associated with everything evil? How could Apollo bear such pride for a nation at war with herself and her citizens? How dare him speak of his native land in glowing colours even when the rest of us are sick and tired of our Nigerianess?
Which Nigeria was Apollo talking about for Christ’s sake? An embattled security-challenged nation where life is short, brutish and worthless; where a Fulani cow is worth more than the average life of an artisan? A ‘stupid’ nation which Senator Ali Ndume from Borno state described recently as one on the brink of collapse?
Does Crews know anything about us, about Nigeria? Has he ever visited the big ‘zoo’ lately? What made him to be marketing Nigeria with glee in Uncle Sam as if Americans did not know us better as scammers, drug peddlers, human traffickers, terrorists and kidnappers?
While our patriotism is not in any doubt we doubt if Apollo would ever elect to live and work in Nigeria as a professional wrestler. If he were to accept to live in Lagos, Abuja, Makurdi, Kaduna or Port Harcourt (perhaps) he would have been dead by now! Ruthless competitors aided by juju would have since sent him to his early grave.
Nigerians are formidable of course! We are champions in different fields of human endeavour. Madam Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is now the ‘champion’ of world trade. In the world of literature and academia we have produced a Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka. And Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. In global business we have the richest African living in Lagos, Aliko Dangote, championing international trade and investment.
In the world of citizen journalism and human rights activism we have a champion in Comrade Omoyele Sowore. In boxing we have a world Champion in Anthony Joshua.
We have got a champion unlike no other in global terrorism nonetheless. The intrepid invincible Abubakar Shekau has made name for himself and his Boko Haram terrorist organization killing, raping, kidnapping, committing arson and sowing fear in the minds of our compatriots (especially those up north).
Nigeria boasts of world beaters. Yet what we lack are champions in politics capable of turning the national malaise into prosperity for all like in the US. We have looting champions (Ibori, Abacha for example) but not statesmen and patriots. And therein lies the problem of Nigeria.
This Sunday on ‘Fastlane’ our brother in the diaspora will be going to wrestling war against the imposing champion for the Intercontinental championship gold. Definitely he would be marshalling the ‘Naija’ indomitable spirit into the battle. If he wins then he would be making Nigeria proud matching words with action. But if he loses then Big E would have rubbished whatever pride Crews had presenting the ‘Naija’ brand to the world audience.
We shall find out after Sunday if Apollo’s audacity in bragging about ‘Naija’ power and glory would prevail.