With Roman Reigns focusing on getting well, he's out of the picture for the time being. As a result, the WWE is seemingly lacking its next big star to carry the Raw championship. In addition, the Raw brand has had its image tainted with below par reviews from fans and critics alike by putting on lacklustre shows.
With big stars like Braun Strowman, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, and Jason Jordon, also off-air due to injury, the WWE is suffering from a creative standpoint because of the injured talent. Additionally, it seems to be lacking a major star to carry the Raw Brand into 2019 and beyond.
However, if the WWE creative has been paying attention it seems that the fans have already chosen The Drifter as their "next big thing" on Raw. Ever since moving up from NXT Elias has been one of the WWE’s most reliable performers that have been over with the fans, despite being brought in from NXT as a heel and being matched up with fan favourites like Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins.
Fans are gravitating towards Elias because he is earning his stripes and rising through the ranks the right way. He’s had solid matches against the likes of Seth Rollins, Bobby Lashley, Roman Reigns, and more. The Drifter has paid his dues by working hard night after night entertaining fans.
Additionally, he's one of the few Superstars that the fans have chosen to cheer regardless of his storyline status as a heel or position in mid-card matches. We've only seen this happen with The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Daniel Bryan during their stints as heels.
With that in mind, we take a look at five reasons why Elias could be the next Rock and John Cena instead of another Honky Tonk Man.
#5 Elias is one of the most charismatic superstars on the roster
If you talk to some wrestling fans that's been around since the days of Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage, right through to the Attitude Era, you will often hear that there are no real characters in today's PG Era.
From a physical standpoint, Roman Reigns is great at what he does and has all the right ingredients, he's incredibly athletic and is capable of putting on good in-ring performances. However, he wasn't incredibly exciting on the mic and didn't engage fans verbally like The Rock or Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Elias, on the other hand, is a solid in-ring performer and the fans are drawn to his charismatic mic work whether he was insulting them or not. His music is also very reminiscent of when The Rock under his Hollywood heel gimmick got over with the fans by insulting his opponents in amusing and creative ways.
#4 Elias is appealing to fans young and old
When it comes to wrestling fans of the golden era with The Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan, and Ric Flair can be very picky when it comes to modern day Superstars. The same can be said of those who enjoyed the Attitude Era too.
The great thing about Elias is that he looks like a wrestler from the 80s and 90s. He seems to also bear more than passing a resemblance to the 'Macho Man' Randy Savage – his signature flying elbow notwithstanding.
In addition to the classic look, some of his humorous pre-match songs border on the Attitude Era in style surpassing even The Rock when it comes to creativity. The fans clearly enjoy his work because he never fails to entertain and excite the viewers.
One only has to watch Elias: Live From Bourbon Street on the WWE Network to see that even as a heel, fans enjoyed loved his mic work.
#3 He has all the physical attributes that Vince McMahon loves
It’s no secret that Vince McMahon has a love for larger than life characters in wrestling. In the WWE fans have been entertained by the likes of Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Batista, Brock Lesnar, and The Undertaker in main event spots for years. So it’s fair to say that he loves his Superstars to look like they’ve walked off the pages of comic book.
He may not be as huge as someone like a Batista or a Brock Lesnar but at 6 feet tall and a solid 220lb Elias looks like he could be a match for anyone. He has a physicality comparable with The Rock, Triple H, and Stone Cold Steve Austin in their primes.
Just like those Superstars, he doesn’t look out of place wrestling against smaller opponents like Seth Rollins and Finn Balor. In addition, Elias looks equally as competitive against power wrestlers like Bobby Lashley, Roman Reigns, and Drew MacIntyre and is capable of having solid matches with any wrestlers of any size.
#2 Elias has paid his dues
Wrestling fans today are savvier than ever. This is because the internet has helped open up the world of professional wrestling for fans at the click of a button. Long gone are the days where wrestling fans would have to import VHS tapes from Japan to watch New Japan Wrestling.
Now wrestlers can potentially gain hardcore fan followings without ever stepping foot in a WWE ring. This is particularly true for wrestlers like Finn Balor, Daniel Bryan, and AJ Styles, all of whom already had a large fanbase before becoming major stars for the WWE.
As a result, the fans tend to appreciate veterans that have paid their dues in both the indie circuits and the NXT division before getting a push on Raw or Smackdown Live. Before getting to the NXT shows in 2014, Elias got his start wrestling for in the Northeastern USA indie circuit the IWC (International Wrestling Cartel) in 2008.
Even though he's not as well travelled as AJ Styles, it was 9 years before The Drifter got his shot at the big leagues and the hardcore wrestling fan can appreciate his body of work.
#1 Even Stone Cold Steve Austin wants to wrestle him
When someone as influential as Stone Cold Steve Austin who is considered to be one of the greatest WWE Superstars recognizes a wrestler's potential star power You have to believe that Vince McMahon must be listening.
So when Stone Cold Steve Austin revealed on the WWE Network version of his Stone Cold Podcast that he’d like to have a match against Elias, the WWE Universe took notice. Additionally, Austin said that he finds Elias entertaining and has the ability to become a star based on his in-ring work and character.
Furthermore, in the same podcast interview with Paul Heyman, Austin said in his own words that he would like to “give Elias the rub”. This would mean that Austin would be happy using his status as a WWE legend to give Elias the push he needed to take his career to the next level.
At 53 years of age, it’s unlikely that Austin will ever perform in a WWE ring again. However, it’s almost certain that his praise for The Drifter won’t go unnoticed by Vince and the rest of the creative team in the WWE.