Back in the 1990’s there were quite a few occupational wrestlers in WWF. These characters apparently had skills in another profession, like a garbage man (Duke Droese), tax auditor (Irwin R. Shyster), dentist (Isaac Yankem), repossession agent (Repo Man), or a mountie (The Mountie), yet for some reason they all decided to spend their time wrestling in WWF.
Elias doesn’t really have much in common with these characters, but there is one central question I often ask myself about the Elias character that I think also applied to all of those 90’s occupational wrestlers: Why the heck is this guy wrestling?
Elias comes out on Raw most weeks, plays his guitar and sings songs with lyrics that taunt other wrestlers or the local town. But he doesn’t seem to actually wrestle all that often.
The last time he fought on pay-per-view (PPV) was on June 17 at Money in the Bank, where he failed to take the Intercontinental Championship away from Seth Rollins. Here is the full listing of his televised matches on Raw since that date:
- July 9: Elias & Corbin vs. Roode & Balor
- July 16: Elias vs. Lashley vs. Rollins
- August 20: Elias vs. Curt Hawkins
That’s the complete list right there, just three total matches spread across 12 episodes of Raw.
I’m not stating this to be critical of WWE. If they think Elias’ ceiling is that of a mid-carder, then this is actually the best way to use him. He gets consistently great reactions from the audience and can use his heat to help out other stories, as he’s done in recent weeks with his involvement with characters like Trish Stratus and Alexa Bliss. He’s over enough with the audience where he was able to smoothly fill in as John Cena’s foil earlier this year on the road to WrestleMania, after Samoa Joe went down to injury. Elias is in a good spot, and it feels like he could easily take off if WWE ever decides to give him an upper card push.
It’s not necessarily bad for Elias that he’s only wrestled thrice on Raw over the last three months. AJ Styles is pushed as one of most important characters in WWE yet he hasn’t wrestled on SmackDown Live since mid-July. Overexposure is a major problem that WWE superstars are constantly battling against, and limiting the number of matches is one way to help win that fight.
If we just focus on the characters in kayfabe though, it’s much easier to understand why AJ Styles hasn’t been wrestling often on TV. He’s the WWE Champion, so his matches are a big deal. Other stars have to earn the privilege of challenging him for his gold. Those matches usually happen on PPV, where AJ Styles is always wrestling. Samoa Joe has been messing with AJ’s family lately, so AJ’s had to face a lot of out-of-ring distractions too.
With Elias, it’s not so easy to explain why he hasn’t been wrestling in kayfabe. He’s not a champion nor is he a special attraction who saves his wrestling for PPVs. He’s a guy who shows up with a guitar to be a jerk to people, without really appearing to be all that interested in actually wrestling. Like those 90’s occupational wrestlers, I don’t really know why this character is spending his time in a wrestling company. In that regard, there’s something missing in his presentation that I don’t quite understand.
That’s only a problem for him if you think he deserves an upper card push. What he’s doing right now for his current position seems to be clearly working based on the audience reactions. I haven’t really seen enough in-ring talent from Elias to make me want to see him wrestle lots of long matches on TV or PPV, but I do enjoy his weekly performances on the mic. Therefore WWE’s usage of Elias has worked out pretty well for my viewing experience. But if you are a huge fan of the guy and want to see more of what he can do in the ring, I’m guessing these last couple of months have been somewhat frustrating.
How do you feel about the way WWE has used Elias lately, Cagesiders?