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31 Days of Wrestling (12/21/16): James Freakin' Ellsworth


Welcome to the 31 Days of Wrestling, ladies and gentlemen. It's that time of year again when we take a look back at the past 11 months of pro wrestling (and as much as possible, the last month as well) and cherry-pick one match a day for each day of December from a list of bouts that defined the year in our beloved sport. Most matches will be good, while some may not be; what matters is that they helped build the perception and reputation of the kind of wrestling this calendar year produced for us.

Today's entry takes a look at one of the hottest new superstars to come into the WWE this year.



When James Ellsworth debuted on Monday Night RAW, no one expected him to stick around. He was there to get his ass kicked and make Braun Strowman look strong before heading out to the pastures of obscurity; just your run-of-the mill jobber who would never see action in a WWE ring ever again.


The loss to the monstrous Braun Strowman was a foregone conclusion, but what people didn't expect was just how lovable Ellsworth's character was. Fans loved his non-threatening appearance, his lack of a chin, and his unwavering belief that any man with two hands has a fighting chance. Ellsworth developed a cult following in the next couple of weeks as more and more fans began to clamor for the chinless one to show up once more



Eventually, Ellsworth made his mark on SmackDown Live as he was immediately involved in the WWE World Championship feud between AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose. He's even fought AJ Styles and beat him not once, not twice, but thrice! Hell, Ellsworth owns a championship match win (via DQ, but still), and even a contract ladder match win over Styles. Sure, he spent most of those matches getting his ass kicked, but the records won't remember that. He'll be remembered as the chin that got the win.

What was remarkable about this was that Ellsworth's ascent was an organic phenomenon. Ellsworth's lovable loser appeal made people want to see more of him and rally behind the guy. He went from a one-off Braun Strowman jobber into a regular fixture as fans clamored for more James Ellsworth, and this was one of the moments where the WWE seemed to listen to what people wanted. For all the times that the WWE has been said to shove certain things down fans' throats, this was one of the very few things people wanted to see more of.



Of course, we can't have Ellsworth beating everyone for some comedy relief (that really didn't do AJ Styles any favors), so they had to find a way to add some nuance to him to keep things fresh. And that's exactly what happened at SmackDown Live's latest PPV, TLC. Ellsworth pushed Dean Ambrose off a ladder, helping AJ Styles retain the WWE Championship in the process. He then explained the betrayal by saying that he'd rather face AJ Styles—whom he's beaten thrice—over Dean Ambrose since he's owed a championship match. Now he's a deluded comedic jobber, and now we'll be watching Ellsworth get his ass kicked by both Styles and Ambrose.

While some people have grown tired of Ellsworth's antics this early (see Booker T), that isn't changing the fact that he isn't going away anytime soon. What was supposed to be a one-time joke appearance turned into a couple of joke appearances, and eventually that turned into regular appearances. He's endeared himself to the WWE fans, and he's here to stay.
This year we've seen how the WWE has brought in many of the world's best talents. Names like Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Bobby Roode, and Roderick Strong were brought in because they had a reputation of being elite-level talent. James Ellsworth doesn't have that same reputation, but that hasn't stopped him from making his own mark in the WWE. It just goes to show you that there's more than one way to succeed in the WWE, and Ellsworth has taken the road less traveled by.

*****

31 Days of Wrestling is Smark Henry's way of celebrating the matches that helped define wrestling in 2016.


Read our previous entries:

#1: The Final Deletion
#2: Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins for the WWE Universal Championship, SummerSlam
#3: Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Wrestle Kingdom 10
#4: Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, NXT Takeover: Dallas
#5: Main Maxx vs. Crystal for the PHX Championship, PWR Renaissance
#6: Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte for the RAW Women's Championship, Hell in a Cell
#7: Prince Puma vs. Rey Mysterio, Ultima Lucha Dos
#8: AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship, Wrestle Kingdom 10
#9: American Alpha vs. The Revival
#10: TJ Perkins and the WWE Cruiserweight Classic
#11: One Versus All Royal Rumble match
#12: Kenny Omega vs Tetsuya Naito, G1 Climax Block B Finals
#13: Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens, Payback
#14: Ricochet vs. Will Ospreay, Best of the Super Juniors Tournament 2016
#15: #DIY vs. The Revival, NXT TakeOver: Toronto (2 Out Of 3 Falls)
#16: Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg, Survivor Series
#17: Katsuyori Shibata vs. Tomohiro Ishii for the NEVER Openweight Championship, Wrestle Kingdom 10
#18: The Return of the Brand Split

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