Earlier today, WWE announced the release of James Ellsworth, Carmella’s former manager and the reason she is currently Miss Money in the Bank. Ellsworth was a very unlikely member of the WWE roster: Billed at 5’9" and 176 pounds, he is not exactly what you picture when you imagine a WWE Superstar. It’s no surprise his ride has ended; what was a surprise was how long that ride lasted.
James Ellsworth’s WWE career started in the epitome of "right place, right time." Brought onto Monday Night Raw in the nascent days of the current brand split to get stomped by Braun Strowman, for some reason his simple pre-match promo — "any man with two hands has a fighting chance" — galvanized the fans, creating something of a cult hero in his inevitable defeat.
A couple months later, Ellsworth claimed the spotlight again when he was suddenly thrust into the AJ Styles/Dean Ambrose storyline over on SmackDown Live, a story that eventually saw Ellsworth compete in a WWE Championship match against AJ Styles — a match that he won (by disqualification), much to the unlikely delight of the fans. He helped eliminate Braun Strowman from the inter-brand Survivor Series match that year, and acted as something of a mascot for the Blue Brand, a goofy doofus you couldn’t help but love.
From there Carmella adopted Ellsworth as her manager/possible love interest, which proved yet another situation filled with awkward moments for the mining. He literally handed Carmella the first-ever women’s Money in the Bank briefcase in a true heel move — a man being the first person to ever unhook the women’s division’s coveted prize. This catapulted Ellsworth into being something of a male chauvinist pig character, something notably (and probably rightfully) absent from the increasingly politically correct WWE programming for years, but he was such an unthreatening oaf that it came across more as a skewering of the archetype rather than an earnest attack on female characters. This wrinkle in Ellsworth’s character came to a head in the first inter-gender match in WWE in over a decade, when Ellsworth got his ass handed to him by Becky Lynch and was unceremoniously dumped by his sugar momma, Carmella.
Looking back, it’s fitting that was his final moment in a WWE ring. Ellsworth is definitely somebody who shouldn’t have made it to the highest level of professional wrestling, but through determination, likability, and heaps of luck, he became a staple of WWE programming for an entire year. He worked with some of the biggest names in the industry, garnered the respect (and later ire) of Daniel Bryan, entered the Royal Rumble, had a WrestleMania Moment™ and for better or worse will forever be attached to the legacy of the Money in the Bank briefcase. Not bad for a scrawny, chinless nobody.
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