Despite initial doubts from WWE writers, Vince McMahon was determined to propel James Ellsworth into the main event scene. Ellsworth, who started as an enhancement talent in 2016 and suffered a quick loss to Braun Strowman, had a turning point in his career when he faced AJ Styles with Dean Ambrose (now Jon Moxley in AEW) as the guest referee.
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During Ambrose’s feud with Styles over the WWE Championship, he assisted Ellsworth in securing a shock victory against Styles. The unexpected success propelled Ellsworth to a title shot, which he won via disqualification. The audience rallied behind this unlikely star, leading to several more matches against Styles and eventually earning a WWE contract after defeating him in a Ladder Match with Ambrose’s help.
Road Dogg, in the latest episode of ‘Oh, you didn’t know…’, revealed that the continuation of the Ellsworth-Styles rivalry was solely Vince McMahon’s idea. Recognizing the fans’ investment in Ellsworth, McMahon insisted on pushing the surprising superstar to the main event level.
“And Ellsworth. I’ll tell you whose idea a lot of this stuff was with Ellsworth, and that’s Vince McMahon.
“Man he saw it, and he was right. When it comes to ratings, which is how you judge if somebody is right or not in the TV business, we did well with Ellsworth.
“Like it was Ellsworth and AJ, and Ellsworth and Dean Ambrose, what are we doing here? And it was like, ‘No, sir. No, we don’t want to put him in the main event again,’ and he’s like, ‘God you have to.’
“And he was right. Every week it did better and better, it was like people just had to see what we were going to do here, you know? So yeah, I don’t know. It was a good time.”
Photo Credit: WWE