Elias opened up during a recent interview with Lilian Garcia on her podcast, Chasing Glory. Elias, who was known by the nickname The Drifter in NXT, shared how he was put on a list to be fired “multiple times.”
“William Regal always said yes, liked me, and got me through, but the people that said no, they were running the show,” Elias explained. “I didn’t know anybody in the business, so I’m an outsider to their crew and they can be protective in their circle. I was put on the list to be fired, multiple times in NXT.”
Elias contineud, “I was made aware of it two different times. You can imagine walking into work knowing ‘that guy right there wants to fire me.’ It makes you walk on eggshells, there’s extra pressure. There were a lot of ups and downs.”
Elias’ 30 Day Deadline
Elias shared how he was pulled aside and told he needed to deliver something that stood out. He was informed they would examine his performance in 30 days. If he didn’t deliver, it was suggested he would be “better off somewhere else” as “not everyone is meant to be a WWE Superstar.”
During this time, Elias would come up with The Drifter gimmick. Another potential name he toyed with was The Judge.
“I put together a vignette, merchandise, ways to debut, feuds, a whole packet. I presented it to him and he said, ‘This is good. Let’s meet and talk about it.’ He brings me into this roundtable room and everyone is there. Dusty Rhodes, Nick Dinsmore, everyone who worked there. He sits down, has my packet, and goes, ‘We all looked at it, it’s really good.’ Shoves it to the side and goes, ‘What else you got?’ I’m like, ‘….What?’ ‘What else you got?'”
Elias explained how he had spent 30 days ensuring The Drifter package delivered in the meeting. He was then told the lights would go off. When they came back on, he would have to deliver something totally different and new.
“He turns the lights off, when he turns them back on, I start yelling at everyone in Italian. Dusty Rhodes goes, ‘Holy shit.’ Nick Dinsmore is like, ‘I got goosebumps.’ The guy that put me on the spot is like, ‘There it is.'”
Despite impressing with the on-the-spot change, Elias would eventually switch it up. He would later bring in a guitar to showcase his skills. Seeing what he could do with the guitar in hand convinced Dusty Rhodes to sign off on The Drifter character.