This was a sentiment echoed by the hero that the WWE Universe didn't want, but very desperately needed. The saga of James Ellsworth began on a very fateful episode of Monday Night Raw in July, where the unknown chinless everyman with two Offspring tattoos took on "The Monster Among Men" Braun Strowman. Two minutes and a reverse chokeslam later saw the almighty James Ellsworth laid waste to by Strowman. Although he was unfortunate in his debut, Ellsworth's road to WWE was only beginning.
Eventually, Ellsworth was brought back as a mainstay in the Dean Ambrose/AJ Styles feud for the WWE World Championship. Instantly he was shot into the main event picture, facing WWE World Champion AJ Styles on SmackDown Live with Dean Ambrose as the special guest referee. With shenanigans from Ambrose, Ellsworth went from jobbing to Braun Strowman to beating "The Face That Runs the Place" AJ Styles!
Such an uprising in a talent has rarely ever been seen inside of a WWE ring. As Ellsworth become more prominently featured on WWE programming, he played up to his underdog persona to perfection. Everything from his cluelessness inside the ring to his humble speechlessness on Talking Smack, Ellsworth legitimately told a successful underdog story despite the comical nature of it all. His official WWE T-Shirt was even the top selling item on WWE Shop upon its release!
While he's toiled on the northeast independents since 2002, Ellsworth has never been inside of an NXT ring nor has seen any side of WWE developmental. For a seemingly random no-name independent wrestler, Ellsworth acclimated to the WWE style very quickly and very well.
Upon defeating AJ Styles, Ellsworth earned himself a title shot at the WWE World Championship! Although he won that match by DQ, Ellsworth's record against Styles went up to 2-0! With Ellsworth on a roll now, he was made the official mascot for Team SmackDown Live in the traditional 5-on-5 match at Survivor Series–which, ultimately, was won by Team SmackDown Live (partially due to an assist from Ellsworth himself!).
|James Ellsworth celebrating as he was announced as the mascot for Team SmackDown Live|
However, as with anyone with rising fame, Ellsworth began experiencing backlash from a substantial amount of wrestling fans. Purists have condemned Ellsworth for attaining multiple victories over the WWE World Champion and leader of the industry, AJ Styles–vehemently proclaiming that it tarnishes Styles' stock in WWE. However, we must remember that none of Ellsworth's victories were exactly clean. The first victory was practically handed to Ellsworth after Ambrose hit his Dirty Deeds finisher on Styles; victory number two came when AJ Styles refused to let up on his strikes, leading to himself getting disqualified; and victory three, again, came at the hands of Ambrose helping him.
While all of these victories were tainted, Ellsworth's character was never meant to be taken seriously from the beginning. His character is on par with The Brooklyn Brawler–another wrestler from decades past who amassed a cult following but never attained true championship success. The story of Ellsworth/Styles can even be traced back to an often-forgotten handicap match between The Brooklyn Brawler and Kaientai vs. Triple H. On the July 6th, 2000 episode of WWF SmackDown, Triple H took on the trio of Kaientai and The Brooklyn Brawler–three wrestlers infamous for losing matches consistently. In the match, like Dean Ambrose, Chris Jericho interfered and hit a Lionsault on Triple H, allowing for The Brooklyn Brawler to score the upset on The Game. Much like this scenario, jobbers scoring tainted victories never truly do long-term harm to serious competitors.
The final showdown (for now) between Ellsworth and Styles took place this past week on SmackDown Live in a ladder match. Though Ellsworth legitimately signed a WWE contract in the past week, this was worked into the storyline. If Ellsworth were victorious, he would achieve a SmackDown Live contract. With the assist from Dean Ambrose once again, Ellsworth defeated Styles to become a permanent member of SmackDown Live!
|Dean Ambrose helps James Ellsworth upon attaining a SmackDown Live contract|
What started as a typical jobber appearance on Monday Night Raw, James Ellsworth quickly became an overnight sensation. With no indie hype or anything of the sort behind him, Ellsworth began with a clean slate upon his first WWE appearance. Ellsworth took advantage of that clean slate, painting himself as the true underdog with his chinless look and unorthodox build against his overpowered opponents. While it's understandable why fans may turn on him, we mustn't forget that Ellsworth is a character who serves as comic relief. If there's one thing that Monday Night Raw is lacking, it's the amount of comic relief. Monday Night Raw may have Enzo and Cass, but they're no match for James Ellsworth.
From being a meek jobber on Monday Night Raw to being an officially contracted SmackDown Live Superstar, James Ellsworth has indeed proven that any man with two hands has a fighting chance!