First off, let’s get right to it: Colin Kaepernick did not go quite as I planned. You know what? That’s alright. One of the smartest women I’ve ever known used to say (all the time) “You can’t win them all”. Some people I know might disagree with that, but, hell, I’m not going to argue with my grandma. And that makes it okay. Or at least that’s how I’m going to rationalize it.
Anyways, this week, I’m making two picks. Fuck it. It’s my blog. After a 5-2 start, I’m going to ramp it up this week. So I’m making dual locks of the century. The first is the Minnesota Vikings -3. They’ve been wizards at covering the spread and if Philly took an L against Detroit, I can’t imagine what the Vikings defense is going to do to them. The second is New England -6.5. You’ll have to buy a point as the original line is 7.5, but I really hate being on the wrong side of 7. Honestly, I don’t think it matters, since the game features Landry Jones vs. Tom Brady, but I’m going to play it safe this week after getting risky last week.
So who is James Ellsworth? Like everything, there’s a long answer and a short answer to that question. The short answer is that he’s the man who wrested AJ Styles for his WWE World Heavyweight Championship on this week’s episode of Smackdown. The long answer? He’s a symbol for the American dream.
Hear me out.
I’m sure that sounds ridiculous right now, but I promise, it makes sense. Let’s start in the beginning.
James Ellsworth “the Chin” made his WWE debut earlier this year as an anonymous wrestler whose only purpose on the show was to be destroyed within seconds by a full time wrestler who needs to look strong in front of the camera. Microphone in hand, he promptly told the fans that “any man with two hands has a fighting chance”. He was subsequently beaten senseless while being mocked by the commentary team, presumably never to appear on television again. After all, this is a tried and true wrestling tactic. Just this week, Braun Strowman, the same man who crushed Ellsworth in seconds, took on a trio of anonymous tomato-cans (referred to by fans and insiders as “jobbers”) and made minced meat out of the trio. By my estimation, this has happened more times this year than you can count on one hand.
Go ahead and watch the following video for yourself and make your own impression of Ellsworth. I’ll wait. Whatever you thought, at least he can hang his hat on the fact that he last for more than a minute before being forgotten about forever, right?
Think about that for a second. This man has been wrestling professionally for 14 years. Day after day, week after week this guy drives his ass to some shitty gym in the middle of nowhere to perform a series of matches that have absolutely no immediate bearing on the world. Here’s a man who, by all means, was following his dream and was on the fast track to ending up a cautionary tale about why doing so usually ends up in disappointment. A career longer than a lot of people do anything was culminated with a match that become a footnote in history, forgotten by nearly everyone who watched or experienced it.
Except… that’s not quite what happened. For some reason, everyone loved James Ellsworth. Vince McMahon, owner of the WWE, went out of his way to congratulate him after his crushing. The fans, ironically or not, clamored for the jobber to re-appear on television. Weeks later, he appeared again only to be beaten up by professional jerk Chris Jericho. Again, his greatest achievement was being used as a prop to get someone else over. But still, the fans went nuts for him and continued to get a positive reaction from his peers backstage.
Then, last week, he broke through. The WWE, realizing they had a potential meme goldmine on their hands, inserted him into the main event feud between cowardly champion AJ Styles and crowd favorite and resident lunatic Dean Ambrose. Ellsworth was given a match against Styles, in which Ambrose would be the referee. If you’re asking “that doesn’t seem very fair, I don’t think that lunatic could be a fair referee” then I’ll remind you that not only is this is a show that currently features a group of evil male cheerleaders, but sometimes that matches aren’t fair. Ambrose, after employing a series of visual gags to avoid refereeing the match, knocked out Styles and dragged an unconscious Ellsworth over his now lifeless body for the pin.
Ellsworth did his job again, acting as a prop to further a story. And, true to form, he was rewarded for doing his job. The following week he would face AJ Styles for his WWE title.
On paper, this was ridiculous. A man who is pretty much world regarded as one of the best professional wrestlers to ever live was having a legitimate title match against a man who had hit about 10 offensive moves in his time in the WWE. There is no way James Ellsworth could ever win that belt. Sure, it might not be real, but obtaining a championship is a big deal. That’s part of the appeal of it – they don’t just give these belts to whoever they want; you really have to earn them by getting yourself over with the crowd. Either that or you have to have enough promise that they want to use the belt to make you a star. All of this is even more so with the WWE title – it’s one of, if not the, most important and well regarded championships in the industry. It would be a genuine disservice to let Ellsworth hold it.
And yet, somehow, the match was memorable. The crowd went legitimately insane when Ellsworth hit his “no chin music” (a play on Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels’ Sweet Chin Music) to nearly pin the champion. Though the match didn’t end with Ellsworth holding the title, it did end with him, wearing a T-Shirt with his face on it, rolling out of the ring after the main event of Smackdown with the crowd cheering his name.
How awesome is that? Answer: it’s super awesome. I don’t care who you are, you can root for a man who toiled for fourteen years to get his moment in the sun. If you don’t want to acknowledge how wonderful this is because it happened in a pro wrestling ring, you’re cutting off your nose to spite your face and I would encourage you to not be such an asshole. If you can’t appreciate this, I’d question what other great things you’re missing out on.
So what can we learn from this man’s meteoric rise? Well, I think we can all agree my grandma is right: you can’t win ’em all. Ellsworth understands that. He could’ve had the attitude that he was entitled to always succeed. He would have tried to win em all and gotten extremely upset when he eventually failed. If you don’t learn to grow with failure, you’ll more than likely go out of your way to avoid it. In order to win, you usually need to lose first. I’m not encouraging you to try to fail, but there’s usually a lot to learn in defeat, and, certainly, the way you deal with it will go a long way to how your life goes.
If you shy away from failure, you’ll probably go nowhere. If you keep trying, well, you’ll still probably go nowhere, but maybe, just maybe, you’ll end up like James Ellsworth. You could do a lot worse.