A year ago, it would have been hard to imagine that the top program on SmackDown would feature the likes of AJ Styles and James Ellsworth. To Styles’ credit, he was adding to his already impressive resume (which included a main event career in TNA) by shining in Japan, but you’d be in the minority if you had ever even heard of James Ellsworth.
Fast forward to the present time where we find AJ Styles as the WWE World Champion and top heel on the blue brand. His 10-month tenure with the WWE has rivaled anyone’s in the history of the company as far as first-year runs are concerned. Ellsworth, on the other hand, wasn’t supposed to last a month on the main roster, let alone more than a week.
Ellsworth was booked as one of what was designed to be a long line of enhancement talent fed to Braun Strowman in the monster’s initial push as a singles star. The WWE Universe and IWC wouldn’t let Ellsworth’s legacy die, however, virtually forcing the company to bring him back on multiple occasions. Those appearances continued to be received well, eventually leading to a full-time deal for the 31-year old from Baltimore, Maryland.
Ellsworth was courted by the heads of SmackDown, and rather than resume his role as a jobber, James was inserted into the brand’s top program alongside Styles and Dean Ambrose. The latter has taken Ellsworth under his wing during the feud, one which even saw him act as Team SmackDown’s mascot at Survivor Series last week. It was at that pay-per-view that Ellsworth reacquainted himself with Strowman, leading to Braun’s elimination.
As noted, Ellsworth earned a legitimate WWE contract, which played out on screen last week when he beat Styles in a ladder match. Of course, that was the third time that Ellsworth and Styles competed in a match against each other, with Ellsworth coming out on top each time. Not only did Ellsworth climb the ladder and retrieve the contract to become a full-time WWE superstar, but the win also guaranteed him a future title opportunity as well.
Well folks, it's official.... James Ellsworth is a WWE superstar... ????— BTC: Wrestling News (@BTCWrestlingNws) November 20, 2016
Video is in this article of his... https://t.co/CNv2E1ZcSQ
According to Cageside Seats, that championship match will likely come at some point on an episode of SmackDown between Sunday’s TLC pay-per-view and the Royal Rumble in January. Plans are still in place for Styles to retain his WWE World Championship against Dean Ambrose in the main event Sunday, leading to what could be a major feud at the Rumble, which we’ll recap in a moment.
TLC should also represent the final chapter in the Styles-Ambrose rivalry, one which began back in August, and will eventually span more than three months. So AJ is expected to continue on as champion with his next title defense coming against Ellsworth shortly after TLC. As noted, Ellsworth is 3-0 against Styles, but according to the report, AJ will finally get a win in that inevitable title match, also closing out that angle.
James Ellsworth has signed a WWE contract to be a full-time wrestler for the company. pic.twitter.com/SJfca7k3Lg— CULT OF WHATEVER (@cultofwhatever) November 20, 2016
We alluded to Styles’ next major program, which is all but confirmed to come against the Undertaker. We’ve noted on several occasions that the Deadman’s current (and perhaps final) run in the WWE will include feuds with both AJ Styles and John Cena. There’s still a small chance that Randy Orton enters the equation as well, but a lot of the Undertaker’s plans are contingent upon how well his hip holds up after recent surgery.
There has been some speculation that Dean Ambrose will eventually turn on Ellsworth, after months of looking out for him, as a way to freshen up his character and keep him at the top of the card. But in any event, look for the Styles-Ambrose feud to end Sunday and for AJ to close out his program with Ellsworth shortly after that.
[Featured Image by WWE]