wrestling / Columns

ZWI: Elias Gets the Masses to Walk With Him

November 9, 2018 | Posted by Dino Zee
Elias WWE's WrestleMania WWE

This past Tuesday, yours truly celebrated a Birthday. This columnist was basically in a celebratory mode all weekend, and wasn’t able to watch the usually scheduled programming. Lucky for me, there’s been something on my mind that I wanted to discuss, but couldn’t find the time while trying to get quotes from Austin Aries, and performing my other usual duties here at ZWI.

It was a couple of weeks ago that, after some berating from acting-General Manager Baron Corbin, Elias would decide that he’d had enough, and attack Corbin with his beloved guitar. It was in the heat of the moment, sure, but there was something on the face of Elias that told you that he’d been considering something like this for a long time. More importantly, his face told you that he was more than happy that it had finally been done.

At that moment, I wasn’t sure if Elias was starting to embrace a new philosophy, or if he had simply had enough of Corbin. There seems to be plenty of people on the roster – whether a fan favorite or a rulebreaker – that cannot stand the man who once held the respectable office of Constable, and counting Elias amongst their numbers wouldn’t have been the most surprising turn of events.

Far too small a sample to be considered proof, I watched again last week as Elias came to the ring, sat on his stool, and began to prepare to perform for the crowd. I listened as he plucked his guitar strings, and fans could be heard cheering. I listened as he’d pause here and there, and even Renee Young was singing his praises. It wasn’t the usual response for Elias, and it was starting to feel real.

Sure, the man had garnered some cheers throughout his time on RAW, but he was hardly someone I’d call “popular.”

At some point, though, Elias would decide to go backstage and find Corbin. He wanted some more fun with the man, but after an attack from Braun Strowman, Corbin was hanging out in the injury ward. Again, someone wanting to bust Baron’s chops was hardly some newsworthy item – the man brings it on himself – but it was what happened during Elias’ visit that I started to realize that my suspicions were fair.

Taunting Corbin with another hot jam, Elias would force Baron to head back into the infirmary in a bit of a huff. As he pleaded with Corbin to listen up, Jinder Mahal would attack Elias from behind, landing some vicious strikes before walking away. Sure, the two were scheduled to compete in a match that was next up, but that’s hardly a reason for the attack.

No, this appeared to be something that was planned. Whether Corbin asked Jinder to have his back when he realized Elias was heading backstage, or if Jinder just figured it’d be a good idea to get on the boss’ good side, it was clear that Elias was no longer seen as an ally to someone like Jinder Mahal. That’s a sad thing to consider, when you think about how well the two worked together as recently as June.

Jinder, though, was willing to throw that in the trash as quickly as Elias decided to smash his guitar into Baron Corbin. That much was clear to Elias himself, as he would take the anger and embarrassment of Jinder’s attack, and turn it into a four minute match of vengeance against The Maharaja.

Weirder still was the crowd reactions to Elias. Again, so much support for the man. It was hard to blame it all on his opponent. Sure, Jinder is far from well-liked, but is he so disliked that even someone like Elias could get an entire arena to support him in battle with Mahal? While possible, it just didn’t seem to be the case to me. In fact, it seemed that the fans were happy to cheer for Elias – as if many had wanted to all along, but just couldn’t support the tactics used by the man once known as The Drifter. On top of that – and most telling, in my opinion – was that it appeared that the fans were enjoying cheering on Elias, Elias was enjoying taking in their cheers even more.

He wrestled like it, that’s for sure. As mentioned, he needed only a little over four minutes to steamroll the former WWE Champion who has wins over the likes of Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura. Four minutes. Elias has been impressive throughout his run on RAW, sure, but no one saw him trucking a former World Champion in such little time.

That’s when it hit me – Elias had finally gotten what he wanted. And all he ever wanted, apparently, was to be accepted by the fans.

He had shown up simply wanting to entertain – to play a little guitar, sing us a little song, and have a little fun – but was roundly rejected by the majority of fans upon arrival. It stung him. He’d respond by acting out, telling the fans to shut their mouths, saying things about their towns, singing songs about how dumb they were, sure. Only, he didn’t really mean it. His insults came from a place of hurt, and as the days passed, he felt like he’d never win the people that disliked him over. And that hurt even more.

To think about how impressive he’s been to this point, and all while working with a wounded heart, is incredible to me. Elias has been in the ring with the very top names of WWE, and has never seemed to be out of his league. He’s come up short, sure, but he never felt like he didn’t belong there. And that was all while carrying the burden of wanting to be liked, but not knowing how to get there.

Baron Corbin gave him the perfect jumping off point. Elias took advantage, and brought the people onto his side. And now he’s wrestling like a brand new man. His entire outlook has changed. Hell, just a couple nights ago, the man went toe to toe with Dolph Ziggler, and pinned him clean, in the middle of the ring!

The old Elias wouldn’t have been able to gut through such a tough encounter. At some point, he’d have either bailed, or reached for his guitar. But now? With the fans cheering him on? Now he’s running full throttle, confident in his abilities, and he’s winning matches in impressive fashion.

It’s not uncommon for an unpopular wrestle to talk about how he doesn’t need the fans, about how they’re just a burden, and the only person to worry about is one’s self. And for some of those guys, it’s sincere. Some guys really don’t want to be accepted. They thrive on the hatred of others. It motivates them.

Apparently, Elias is not one of those guys. It makes sense, too. A musician needs his audience. A rock star needs his groupies. For too long, Elias was a lone man looking to be a part of the larger group. He did all right on his own, but now, with the fans watching his back, he looks poised for things bigger and better. He knows he can be nearly unbeatable when he’s at full power.

But the power only exists because he got what he always wanted. He got the approval. WWE truly does stand for Walk With Elias… and we’ll be there every step of the way.

article topics :

Elias, WWE, Dino Zee