During a conversation with a friend and media colleague, the subject of James Ellsworth emerged, with me describing how the gimmicky feel of his miniature run has begun to wear thin. We both agreed there was value in Ellsworth, and then last week on his podcast, Bear Hug It Out, he and his co-hosts laid out a base idea that I was emotionally distraught I didn’t think of first.
James Ellsworth, the WWE wrestler, has a short shelf life. It’s not that he can’t work, as he’s been on the northeast independent scene for quite some time. It’s that with that look, Vince isn’t ever going to really put him over anybody, and his ceiling eventually becomes Santino Marella.
That’s a fun little career, but it doesn’t maximize what Ellsworth can provide the company as a character. He won’t sell those black t-shirts forever, and once he’s not standing next to Dean Ambrose and glaring at AJ Styles, what’s left for him to do, other than leave?
Easy. He becomes the only true male heel manager in WWE. That was the BHIO suggestion, and I couldn’t agree more. Here’s why:
At his size, and with that ridiculous face, this is so simple. You flip sympathy completely on its head by having this clown start cutting promos about what a handsome, intelligent, worldbeating human being he is, and the people begin to boo him by the end of the first night. It might require some skullduggery or chicanery, some kind of caper, but that’s easy. One month later, he has Vickie Guerrero heat, unless it backfires and the smarts stay on his side, seeing behind Oz’s green curtain. (Not Kevin Nash.)
James can talk, and does so in a seemingly genuine way, except for the incontrovertible fact that every time I’ve heard him speak since that tearful promo in the back with Renee Young, it’s sounded like complete and utter bullshit. So, in retrospect, maybe it isn’t genuine at all, or at the very least, you could sell me that he’s a two-faced bastard.
Imagine how irritating it would be for him to bring up back-to-back victories over the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, especially once AJ makes a babyface turn down the road. Imagine James Ellsworth in a necktie, or some absurd track suit, or any number of other options. Mainly, imagine a small, nondescript jerk running his mouth and dodging fights, but with the ability to take a good bump, and once in a while throw a fun superkick behind the referee’s back.
The best manager, in this day and age, is one that reminds you of the guy you saw at Waffle House or In-N-Out Burger last week that you think is making a ton of money to be a complete jackwagon. “Seriously, THIS piece of garbage is talking? God, I can’t wait to see somebody break him in half and shut him up.” You can see the general fan base feeling that very emotion as they watch this guy after a turn. Vickie Guerrero wasn’t someone who could take anything physically, but Ellsworth is, which makes him doubly effective. Once that heat reaches a nuclear degree, you release a little of it by having someone put him through a table or send him flying to the canvas.
Then, you build the heat back to that point, and repeat the process.
It isn’t a short-term angle. It’s a character that can endure, can evolve, but can always be there as a low risk, high reward proposition. It wouldn’t take much to turn Ellsworth into WWE’s gaudy Zippo lighter, considering the many thousands of unlit matches in the seats and millions of brand new candles on the sofas. We want someone to light the fire underneath us as fans. We want to feel real, lasting disdain for someone on these shows.
If he plays the punk and eliminates much of the comedy (except during small wins for the faces), ramps up the prickishness, and uses his mouth as a high spot, this could be a big win for WWE. He’s already been an amazing story, so it’s time to find a way to increase his relevance, and hang onto someone with this level of potential in a new role.
Ellsworth, the heel manager, has staying power. Anyone associated with him could get real heat, in the way no one adjacent to Paul Heyman has consistently been able to for years, because of the cool factor. This guy immediately becomes a perfect villain in a time where WWE desperately needs just that kind of character. He can look down on the entire roster, treat the women like objects (as part of the role), and when he gets his comeuppance, it will always work. It worked for Heenan. It worked for Cornette. It worked for Dangerously. It worked for Blassie.
And it can damn sure work for James freaking Ellsworth.