While names like Dolph Ziggler, Mustafa Ali, Shelton Benjamin, and Matt Riddle have headlined much of the discourse surrounding the most recent round of WWE releases, other performers, like Elias, Top Dolla, and the Maximum Male Models have flown a little more under the radar, with their immediate next fits in the world of professional wrestling a bit harder to identify.
Taking some time to discuss one of these “lesser” performers who has a, shall we say, less obvious fit outside of the WWE universe on his Hall of Fame podcast, Booker T complimented Elias for his “multi-talented” abilities even if it didn't always translate to success in the ring.
“You know, I liked Elias. He’s the guy that I really thought had something unique, special, different than just about everybody on the roster. He was a multi-talented guy who of course was a wrestler, but loved the performance side of it,” Booker T said via 411 Mania.
“As far as him being able to sing and play that guitar, I really thought that was his meal ticket. I thought that was his bread and butter that really could have taken him to the superstar level. But I think he really was caught in between trying to be the wrestler and then just going out there and doing the music as a segment, and not really leaning into the music as the source. I didn’t know Elias before he became Elias and was working in the WWE as that character or anything like that. I don’t know him from a personal standpoint or anything, but if he can still tap into his music, I think his career is definitely something that he can create and make of his own.”
Is there still money to be made by the artist formerly known as Elias embracing a singer gimmick? In the opinion of King Book, the answer is a resounding yes, but for that to happen, he needs to get his in-ring efforts up to his musical abilities, as Elias was no Honky Tonk Man in the WWE ring.
Booker T explains the difference between Elias and Honky Tonk Man.
Comparing Elias to his closest analog in the WWE Universe, Honky Tonk Man, Booker T noted that he didn't think the former ever lived up to the benchmark set by the latter, as his in-ring work just wasn't up to snuff.
“The Honky Tonk Man, he could work. People could say whatever the h*ll they want to say about the Honky Tonk Man, ‘He didn’t do this, he didn’t do that.’ That dude could work. He was one of the best workers that this business has ever produced. And that’s just going out there and making those fans feel a certain way. Bottom line, that’s it. So that’s the difference. Elias was no Honky Tonk Man in the middle of that square circle. And I think that’s where you got to be good at. He didn’t have to do a whole lot, but he had to be good at it. Honky Tonk Man, he didn’t do a whole lot, but he was good at what he did. And he made everybody that he worked look extra special. So, I think that was the difference between those two characters. We got a real chance to see his work in the ring when he was Ezekiel.”
Asked if he was impressed with what Elias showed during his days as Ezekiel, Booker said no, noting that, in his opinion, the work didn't live up to the hype in the ring.
“We got a chance to actually see him get in the ring and work. We didn’t get a chance to see Elias’ work. We got a chance to see Ezekiel’s work, and then the work has to be equal or better. The wrestling didn’t live up to the character that it could have been in order to really get what we need to get out of not just the lives but guys that he goes out there and works with.”
What does the future hold for Elias? Will he continue on with his musical gimmick? Will he simply focus on music, period, and leave wrestling behind? Or could he instead embrace becoming another member of the extended Samson family, be that as Elrod or an as-of-yet known member of the extended family? Fans will have to wait until December to see what the man behind the beard and acoustic guitar has up his sleeve moving forward.