Vince McMahon didn’t take no for an answer when it came to a specific comedy wrestler being put into main-event matches.
Back in 2016, Braun Strowman had a gimmick that saw him squash random local independent wrestlers in quick and decisive fashion after WWE’s interviewers would ask said wrestlers what was going through their minds as Strowman marched down to the ring.
One of these wrestlers was James Ellsorth who, despite looking meek and unimposing, cut an unexpectedly enthusiastic promo by saying, “any man with two hands has a fighting chance.”
That single line led to James Ellsworth being not only signed by WWE, but put into main-event matches on SmackDown and even in world title situations.
It was a surprising sight to behold as this small wrestler nicknamed “the chinless wonder” by WWE’s commentators was getting all these top spots. As it turns out, this came from Vince McMahon directly.
On a recent episode of his Oh You Didn’t Know podcast, Road Dogg explained that Vince insisted on using James Ellsworth in these matches, even if Road Dogg himself and the others working in the company’s creative department didn’t like the idea and tried to make Vince change his mind.
“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.”
James Ellsworth would then go on to have a long program with Carmella before returning to the independent wrestling scene in 2018.
h/t Inside The Ropes for the transcription