The World Wrestling Entertainment has rolled the dice outside the industry many times in the past. Some, like the XFL, flopped miserably but made significant innovations still used today in most American football coverage.
Others, such as the WWE Comics, which will soon hit the stands in November, according to IGN, are promising – not to mention fitting for their brand. In hindsight, the former seem like a bad idea, hence the failed result, considering that one is a sports entertainment brand and the other is a legitimate and established professional game. On the other hand, the professional wrestling company’s journey into the world of comic books looks like a match made in fictional heaven.
Nowadays, various media entities resort to comic books – so much so that it somewhat looks like the easiest, safest way out. On the flipside, the viewing public constantly craves such stories to be brought to life on screen. Aside from the success in these popular visual mediums, Pocketfruity discussed how these fictional characters transcended to different gaming platforms – both console and online. In short, comic books, based on the website, “have had a huge resurgence in the larger culture… sparking a near-endless demand for these stories.” The WWE, however, did the exact opposite, as they flipped the tables and immortalized their superstars into the colorful pages of these books.
In this Vince McMahon era of professional wrestling, it seems like the two foremost requirements of landing a job with the company is a well-defined – borderline hulking – physique and a larger-than-life attitude on the microphone. These facets not just make a good wrestler on screen, but a likely comic book character altogether. However, in this so-called New Era of Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks, Kevin Owens and AJ Styles, there’s one superstar that sticks out like a sore thumb, a man, who on paper neither looks like a wrestler nor a comic book superhero.
James Ellsworth entered the bright lights of the WWE on the July 25th edition of RAW in an enhancement match versus Braun Strowman. As expected, Strowman demolished the – in pro wrestling parlance – jobber in a quick albeit brutal fashion. More than a month later, the lanky indie wrestler from Maryland, who is also the head promoter of local indie show Adrenaline Championship Wrestling, made his SmackDown LIVE debut against no less than the champ AJ Styles.
Fans, or the WWE Universe, saw this hilarious sketch as somewhat another squash match starring James Ellsworth, a David-vs-Goliath type of booking featuring a chinless indie darling and a literal world-beater in AJ Styles.
However, as the stipulation would have it, Styles’ current rival Dean Ambrose was designated as the special guest referee. With plenty of help from the former champ Ambrose, Ellsworth pulled off the impossible and pinned the champ. The following week, SmackDown LIVE GM Daniel Bryan put him in another match opposite Styles, this time with the WWE World Championship belt on the line.
People raved about it on social media; the event was the perfect storm so to speak. James Ellsworth has a memorable catchphrase about any man with two hands has a fighting chance, he has undeniable in-ring presence, and most of all, the WWE Universe loves him. Ellsworth even has authentic merchandise on WWE Shop. The title match went on as planned. AJ beat him to a pulp – with only a “No Chin Music” (a play on Shawn Michaels’ patented “Sweet Chin Music”) as his defining moment. In the end, James Ellsworth pulled off another stunning upset, this time via a DQ, as AJ Styles deliberately failed to stop punching after the obligatory five-count.
Though, AJ Styles still retained his belt, James Ellsworth gained something greater than a precious title. He’s now an unlikely new WWE Superstar, who on just his third official live show with the company, main evented against a recognized champion. Yes, he doesn’t have the looks nor the abilities of a future WWE Hall of Fame wrestler, but he – to borrow the great Chris Jericho’s words – has the definite “IT” factor. James Ellsworth is light years away from having the most physically intimidating body in the business, but his story, his underdog journey to the big league has the makings of a theoretically exciting WWE Comic.