The latest update on Friday Night SmackDown superstars Aleister Black and Apollo Crews suggests that both men are essentially afterthoughts during creative team meetings. In both cases, it seems that their apparent burial is a result of Bruce Prichard’s booking preferences as creative director for both main roster brands.
As reported on Thursday by Ringside News, sources familiar with the situation told the publication that Black’s name is “never mentioned” when WWE’s writing team discusses plans for SmackDown programming. While many fans have speculated that the company isn’t using the Dutchman as punishment for the actions that led to the termination of his wife, Zelina Vega, the publication stressed that Black’s lack of exposure and “poor booking” was an issue even before WWE’s edict on third-party platform accounts and Vega’s subsequent firing for violating the new rules.
As further pointed out, Black’s absence also has nothing to do with injuries, as he is currently healthy. The outlet wrote that the former NXT Champion was one of Paul Heyman’s top favorites during his time as Monday Night Raw executive director. But with Heyman getting fired this summer and getting replaced by Prichard, that put an end to Black’s push. Unlike his predecessor, who was serious about pushing young and/or promising talents, Prichard has mainly focused on using tried-and-tested superstars.
“Heyman had a vision for making new talent, and Bruce is not in the business of making new stars,” one of Ringside News‘ sources was quoted as saying.
Black isn’t the only talent who has seemingly faded from view as a result of Prichard’s focus on established names. Earlier this year, Crews was prominently featured on Raw and given a run with the United States Championship, getting lauded as well for his in-ring performance during his time with the title. When Heyman was dismissed, Crews quickly lost the belt and was moved to the blue brand in October during the company’s most recent draft.
As suggested by Ringside News‘ sources, Crews is currently “a ghost” on SmackDown programming due to how he has only seldom been used since switching brands.
The new report comes weeks after rumors suggested that Prichard has been “terribly unpopular” with a lot of wrestlers since assuming his current position on the creative team. Earlier this month, it was alleged that the wrestling industry veteran is known for trying to promote his own “agenda,” supposedly doing so by burying certain talents “for no reason” and pushing his favorite superstars at their expense.