Every so often, people come along in wrestling that folks just like. You can’t exactly put a finger on what draws people to them, but their presence and actions make certain performers feel a certain way. Whatever that thing is, over the last 15 months Elias has flirted with mastering that, as he’s played his guitar and went city to city with insult-laden tunes and endeared himself to fans of WWE. Walking with Elias turned out to be something fans were lining up to do.
Had you told me Elias would end up going over this well on the main roster while he was in NXT, I wouldn’t have believed it. His gimmick felt like a lesser version of The Rock’s “Rock Concerts” and he was the definition of, PLEASE GO AWAY. He never got a chance in NXT to really define himself as an in-ring performer, so when he was called up following Wrestlemania 33 and was said to be a guy WWE saw a star I began watching closely full of skepticism. He possessed a physique that was sure to gain him fans backstage, along with some cool merchandise that looked pretty stylish and slowly I understood what people were seeing even if I didn’t necessarily dig it.
Aside from Corey Graves who has consistently hated this man from day 1 in NXT, I heard commentary bending over backwards to praise this man with Michael Cole leading the charge, and he was being labeled a future champion as he picked up wins over lower card guys like R-Truth, and had 50/50 matches with Finn Balor and Dean Ambrose on TV. If you haven’t noticed this, pay attention.
Throughout that, he had been proving to be not ready for primetime as an in-ring performer as he’s been regularly omitted from feuds that built to singles appearances on PPV until just this month. He had a night of the PPV match with Jason Jordan that was set up with Jordan throwing fruit at him that didn’t help either guy, and he was hidden in the Elimination Chamber at entrant #7 before being quickly eliminated by Braun Strowman.
He was discarded at Wrestlemania by John Cena & The Undertaker’s segment/match, and it looked like for as much as he was over with fans for everything that wasn’t wrestling, WWE didn’t actually trust this guy to go out and be the primetime performer that some fans saw him as, and we had months of proof of this.
All of that comes to an end now.
Seth Rollins has been WWE’s best main roster wrestler since the calendar flipped to 2018, freed from the Tag Team division, he’s made Monday Night Raw his personal canvas, eclipsing the rest of the roster with his consistency, and opening match performances. His feud now with Elias will perhaps give him the chance to springboard back to the top of the card, but he will have a hand in making his potential successor to the Intercontinental Championship.
Besides the sheer comedy of this being a mirror match, Elias and Rollins couldn’t be on more different paths in WWE. One has to imagine Elias is foaming at the mouth to get THIS version of Seth Rollins to prove himself against in a wrestling capacity. I counted month after month of this guy getting left off of PPV’s and was like when are they going to let him actually do something?
He can play guitar as much as he wants and be a nice niche character in the machine of WWE, but this is his best chance to show he can be part of a storyline and deliver on PPV. What plagued Bray Wyatt for so long was not only losing matches he should have won, but turning in uninspired performances that made people want their favorite wrestlers or any wrestler they cared about at all to stay away from him. This is the fate Elias will be attempting to avoid, and it starts with putting in an incredible performance with Seth Rollins.
If Elias doesn’t rise to the occasion here, the blame will fall square to his shoulders. With Seth Rollins making his case for WWE Wrestler of the year, the degree of difficulty doesn’t seem high for Elias.
I’m rooting for Elias to actually succeed, even if he isn’t my cup of tea traditionally because the more people that are over that people are already organically into, the better WWE will be for it. Those “Walk With Elias” chants just didn’t happen themselves. At Money In The Bank, people will be ready to walk with Elias, it’s just on him to show everyone they’re going.
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Rich Latta is a writer for LordsofPain.net & host of the One Nation Radio Podcast on www.SocialSuplex.com Check his Latta’s Lariato New Japan work out there. He appears monthly on Chad Matthews’ podcast The Doc Says after PPVs. GFX by @SirMikeFergus Give him a follow on Twitter, @RichLatta32 or drop him a comment below. If you like hip-hop, check out his music here. www.Soundcloud.com/RichLatta Look Him Up On Youtube As Well.