The unlikely tale of James Ellsworth

By: 
Joshua Waddles
Staff Writer

Once upon a time, there lived a wrestler with no chin.When the terrifying giant, Braun Strowman, invaded the village demanding tribute, the villagers fed Ellsworth to Strowman without hesitation.

This is about where you can end the Morgan Freeman narrative voice.

For those who don’t know, James Ellsworth is a recent WWE wrestler who was brought in to put on a show of getting beat up by a huge wrestler named Braun Strowman. Elssworth was probably meant to make only one appearance, but then the internet happened.

There was just something about Ellsworth, probably a combination of his incredible goofiness and never-give-up attitude. During his interview as Strowman marched to the ring, little chinless Ellsworth held up his fists and said, “Anyone with two fists has a fighting chance.”

The memes came pouring in. Some genius photoshopped Ellsworth, holding his fists up, on the cover of WWE’s new video game. I’ve seen a few photoshop edits of Ellsworth with the WWE Universal Title. But the most viral meme was a circle with Ellsworth’s face with an R.I.P. (after he was completely destroyed in the ring by Strowman.)

This last meme is almost definitely the meme that inspired Ellsworth’s new T-shirt.

WWE creative decided to go with it. Ellsworth made a brief appearance, only to get beaten up by The Miz on SMACKDOWN. Then they made Ellsworth a player in the WWE World Title feud when Dean Ambrose helped him get a win over the world champion, A.J. Styles, and Ellsworth went on to get another victory by disqualification.

Neither of these earned Ellsworth the world title, but it was enough to elicit a lot of cheers from Ellsworth’s chin section.

And a lot of hate from internet marks who don’t understand the humor and see Ellsworth as the poster-chin for the fans who prefer wrestlers like Daniel Bryan and Kevin Owens over John Cena and Roman Reigns.

The humor about James Ellsworth came close to making me a little uncomfortable. The small, goofy looking guy standing up to big bad wrestlers as parody, it felt a little men spirited. But I don’t think it comes from a place of meanness. Fans are laughing with him, not at him. And I think fans genuinely root for him, just not quite to the extent that we seem to, if that makes sense.

To put it this way, most of us didn’t actually want Ellsworth to win the World Title against A.J. Styles, we just wanted to see him do good and have the time of his life main eventing SMACKDOWN. There probably would have been some cheers if he’d actually won the belt, as it seemed he was going to for a minute. But if he’d kept it for longer than the next show, most these same fans would have started to get irritated.

Now for the haters.

Daniel Bryan’s “Yes Movement,” a massive movement by his fans, pretty much forced the WWE to change its plans for Wrestlemania. The Ellsworth haters live in fear that this will happen again: a fan revolution which pushes James Ellsworth to the Wrestlemania main event and a world-title victory.

During the most recent SMACKDOWN, WWE creative had Ellsworth get Dean Ambrose disqualified, costing Ambrose a title shot and probably lowering Ellsworth in the esteem of the fans. This leads me to believe that WWE has the same fear.

I don’t think Ellsworth will garner a massive following of fans that will completely annex the WWE the way the Yes Movement did, but I can’t be sure of that. It might actually happen, so I definitely understand this move by creative.

Even so, the way Ellsworth acted the whole thing might end up being even better for his character than his wins over A.J. Styles. The way he kept asking Dean Ambrose to let him be at ringside and being all grateful for all of Dean’s support, it was like that kid with Mean Joe Green in that commercial.

And the look on his face when he realized he cost his hero the world title opportunity was borderline heartbreaking. After the buildup, and then watching the desperate way he shook his head to the referee and rubbing his eyes as if he were crying, I really felt like I was witnessing the worst moment of this poor guy’s life.

I hope the WWE does do something with him. Not necessarily a belt, at least not for a few years. But even that, I can’t rule out totally. Just look at Heath Slater. If this had all happened a year ago, Slater would have been the one getting destroyed by Strowman and now he’s one half of the SMACKDOWN Tag Team Champions.

I can see Ellsworth having a pretty good career as a Bo Dallas level wrestler, possibly leveling up to Dolph Zigller status or close to it. Ellsworth’s super kick looks very painful, and we’ve seen how this guy can act.

The Chin with the Win is also The Chin with the Talent.

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