McMahon Elevates 38-Year-Old Star Amid Backstage Skepticism, Claims WWE Veteran

WWE Hall of Famer reveals unexpected backstory of 2016.

by Atia Mukhtar
McMahon Elevates 38-Year-Old Star Amid Backstage Skepticism, Claims WWE Veteran

In a recent revelation by WWE Hall of Famer "Road Dogg" Brian James, he laid bare that the ingenious decision to catapult James Ellsworth into the main event status in 2016 was orchestrated by none other than the WWE chairman, Vince McMahon.

Back in 2016, James Ellsworth, with his unassuming charm, had a miraculous run in WWE, creating a wave of intrigue amongst the fanbase. After his unexpectedly swift defeat to Braun Strowman, the fan demand to see more of Ellsworth was palpable, and WWE astutely leveraged this by placing him squarely within the heated WWE Championship fray alongside AJ Styles.

Ellsworth: SmackDown's Unexpected Mascot

Ellsworth not only shared significant airtime with AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose, but he also emerged as the linchpin and beloved mascot for the SmackDown team during that year's quintessential Survivor Series match.

While recounting these events on the "Oh You Didn't Know?" podcast, Road Dogg disclosed that the decision to elevate Ellsworth was indeed a brainchild of McMahon. He elaborated that despite initial skepticism, the surge in ratings with Ellsworth headlining the main event was a clear testament to the success of McMahon's vision.

Road Dogg stated, "Vince McMahon was the driving force behind Ellsworth's main event push. He envisioned it, and he was absolutely right. Our ratings thrived with Ellsworth at the helm - whether it was Ellsworth's face-offs with AJ or his encounters with Dean Ambrose.

Every week, fans eagerly tuned in to see the unfolding storyline." Post his stint at the pinnacle of SmackDown's card, Ellsworth formed a potent alliance with Carmella, with whom he transformed the blue brand's landscape.

He was instrumental in helping Carmella secure the coveted Women's Money in the Bank briefcase in 2017. This alliance underwent a temporary split, only to reunite later, during which Ellsworth became an essential player in Carmella's bitter feud with Asuka.

Eventually, Ellsworth left WWE in 2018 and started showcasing his talent in the independent circuit, winning hearts as an intergender champion. His journey underscores the unexpected turns wrestling narratives can take, guided by the visionaries like McMahon.