Talk Is Jericho
Release Date: January 30, 2018
Recap by: Joe Aguinaldo
0:00 – Intro
On today’s show will be James Ellsworth who is back coming first circle having started on Talk Is Jericho before signing with the WWE and now he’s back after his 16 month run. They’ll be talking about how he got signed, his relationship with Carmella, working with A.J. Styles and his release.
1:20 – James Ellsworth
James is in Tampa having driven from Baltimore (14 hour drive). Chris talks about becoming friends with James on their first podcast together back in September 2016. This was after James did the match with Braun Strowman. Chris even texted Vince saying he should hire James (which they did).
Chris says Ellsworth doesn’t have the classic look of a wrestler but felt there was something about him for the WWE to bring him in. James didn’t think he was going to get signed to a contract until it finally happened. Even when he wrestled A.J. Styles, he wasn’t under contract. They officially signed him at Survivor Series 2016. Chris says James was released a few months ago and says there’s two ways to look at it. Sure he got released which sucks but there’s also the fact James had a 16 month run despite the fact he didn’t look like the average WWE superstar.
He asks James how he feels since his release (3:40 into the podcast). James is appreciative of the opportunities he’s had and had a blast in the WWE. He’s not content with the run because he wanted to do more. Chris felt James had a great run because he was always doing something on TV even to the point where James had more title shots than Chris in 2016. Chris makes a comparison to Rudy or Cinderella and asks James how he feels about it. James uses the analogy of a football team. If you see a picture of a football team with a bunch of big guys and there’s one small guy, people will wonder how the small guy made the team and will want to watch him to see what he can do.
Chris asks what James thinks got him signed and what impressed Vince about him. James thinks Vince liked the Braun Strowman match and the way James performed stuck out to Vince. Six week after the Strowman match, he came back. Ellsworth thinks that he his run may not have happened had he not cut the promo before the match. Ellsworth says he always knew his role the whole time he was there.
Chris asks if he had any discussion with Vince (7:51 into the podcast). James says when he and Carmella were put together, it was her that went to Vince with the idea of teaming up with Ellsworth so he could help her win matches. Vince loved the idea and called both of them in to tell them what he was expecting which was the first real extended conversation he had with Vince. Vince wanted heat for Carmella and wanted her to be a heel in the women’s division which was difficult because of her look. Having Ellsworth with Carmella, helping her win matches was the heat. Initially he was nervous before the conversation, but once Vince told them what he wanted, James said they would make it work.
Chris said it was a shame they didn’t finish up that program before they let James go because Carmella still has the MITB briefcase and should have been involved in her cashing in. James thinks he may have gotten too comfortable. There was an angle where Carmella put a dog leash on James and James wasn’t sure if it was going to work as it would lessen the heat he had built when he gave Carmella the briefcase at the first women’s MITB. At the time he didn’t think it was his place to say anything so he didn’t voice his concerns.
Chris asks what the WWE said to him when he got released (10:40 into the podcast). He had come home from a tour and a Smackdown TV and got a text from the office asking them to call. He called Mark Corano and Mark told him they had decided to let him go because the office felt his character had run its course. His first reaction was to tell Mark a bunch of ideas he had and there was still a lot he could do like going to 205 Live (and he still feels that way). He says he’s not bitter and is very appreciative of his run but reiterates he really doesn’t know the reason other than maybe he was too comfortable.
Chris says it may not be the case of Ellsworth doing anything wrong but rather that he far exceeded what they expected of him. In the business of wrestling, there are characters that come and go and for Vince, he probably thought there was nothing more he could do with James’ character. Chris doesn’t think it was anything personal. Chris’ advice to James is to not look at it like he did anything wrong but rather that it’s what James did that kept him there for 16 months. If James hadn’t done such a good job they may not have kept him that long.
They discuss how James got hired by the WWE. After the Strowman match (July 2016), the office emailed him a few weeks later saying they had an idea for James at SummerSlam (15:37 into the podcast) . The Friday before SummerSlam, he got an email saying creative changed and the SummerSlam idea wasn’t going to happen. James found out later the original idea was for Heath Slater (who had not been drafted by either Raw or Smackdown and was lobbying for a contract) to come out at SummerSlam demanding a contract. Daniel Bryan said he would give Heath a contract if he could beat James. But the idea was that James would go over and get the contract.
However, Heath was getting babyface reactions so the office did not want to do the angle with Ellsworth. In September, he got an email from the office saying they were going to bring James in for Raw and Smackdown and they would try to get James in one of the shows. On Smackdown, they did an angle where James was supposed to team with A.J Styles against John Cena and Dean Ambrose however the Miz beat up Ellsworth and took his place in the match.
After that Smackdown, he did not hear from the WWE until a month later. They were going to fly him down to California for Smackdown and he tells a story where he’s been scared in the ring (17:39 into the podcast). He assumed he would be wrestling the Miz and started watching a bunch of Miz matches to get familiar with how Miz worked. When he got to the TV, he found out he was wrestling A.J. Styles. At first, he thought it was a rib and didn’t believe it even when A.J told him as well. Finally, the creative team confirmed he was going to be wrestling A.J. with Ambrose as the special referee. James says to the indie guys, A.J. is considered a god. He says he never gets scared but when he found out he was wrestling A.J., he got scared to death.
The story of the match was A.J. had just gone through two title defenses and wanted to wrestle a non-title match with Ellsworth for an easy win. Daniel Bryan announced Dean Ambrose was the special referee. James said he normally gets nervous but this time he was scared. A.J. and James were practicing the Styles Clash that afternoon prior to the match. During the match, James was wrestling the WWE champion and it was going fine until Styles picked him up for the Styles Clash. James panicked and tucked his chin. Normally when you learn how to wrestle, you’re told to always tuck your chin but for the Styles Clash you want to look straight ahead and not tuck your chin. Because James tucked his chin, A.J. landed on his knees which saved James (to see the full match click here. At 6:56 Styles goes for the Styles Clash and you can see James tuck his chin. If A.J. had landed the move with James’ chin tucked, it could have been bad).
After the A.J match, James went on Talking Smack and Daniel Bryan announced James he was getting a title shot the next week. James didn’t know that was happening and initially thought Bryan was making it up but it was actually real. James’ reaction was a very real and genuine reaction (Daniel makes the announcement and James’ reaction happens at 1:11).
Chris brings up the story about how he got the Styles Clash unbanned (22:49 into the podcast). Because of the past reputation of the move, it was banned in the WWE because there was a perception it was dangerous and injured people. When Chris was working with A.J., he got A.J. to start using it again. Chris then approached Vince and asked him what he thought of the move but did not call it the Styles Clash. Vince thought it was a great move and Chris asked if they could use it as a finish and Vince gave it the green light.
James talks about his title match with A.J. where Dean Ambrose was the guest timekeeper and ring announcer (26:31 into the podcast). He said it was a fun match and during the commercial break, where wrestlers would normally do rest holds, A.J. said ‘OK Ellsworth let’s see what you got’ and started calling a bunch of spots. The ending of the match sees A.J. getting disqualified and Ellsworth getting the win (click here to see the match). It should be noted that James had now wrestled and beat the WWE champion twice without being under contract.
Two weeks later, Ambrose has a match with A.J. and if he wins, he becomes number one contender. During the match, Ellsworth hits A.J. with No Chin Music which cases Ambrose to be DQ’d. James says he had the most fun working with Ambrose saying they were two crazy guys, one being tough guy crazy (Ambrose) and one dumb a** crazy (Ellsworth). Ambrose even told one of the creative guys that they needed to keep his and Ellsworth on-screen chemistry going.
Chris and James have a brief discussion about A.J. Styles saying he is one of the nicest guys, almost too nice for the wrestling business. He’s also very hard working.
Chris says James is a unique character who guys can play off and have fun with comparing James to Ralphus (but a million times better). He is not the ‘norm’ for wrestling but has a real good presence and charisma. James says the writers would tell him he was the most pitched guy meaning a lot of the guys had ideas for working with Ellsworth. Even Chris pitched an idea for working with Ellsworth
Chris asks James about the details of how he got his contract (34:45 into the podcast). The WWE was in a Glasgow, Scotland for Smackdown. James was only supposed to do TV, however, a few days before, he got an email saying he was on the rest of the tour meaning he was going to be on live events. When he got to Glasgow, Mark Carano and Triple H offered James a contract. James said it was an emotional moment when he got signed.
The night, James was in a six man tag with Ambrose and Kane versus the Wyatt family. Before the match, Ambrose and Kane told James not to tag in. During the match, Ambrose and Kane were down and James tagged himself in. Ellsworth ends up tagging in and says that was one of the coolest crowd responses he had gotten.
Chris asks what was the reaction to getting signed. Guys in the indies that knew James were really happy for him. Even guys in the WWE were happy for him too. Bray Wyatt even told James to stop dressing in the extra talent dressing room and said that James was one of them now.
Chris asks what the WWE locker room thought when James got released (38:48 into the podcast). James said a lot of them texted him saying they did not see it coming because he was on TV every week and the Carmella angle wasn’t paid off yet. James wondered if he had done or said something wrong and says not knowing why he was released is what sucks. Chris tells James that he’s not the only performer that wonders what went wrong when something doesn’t go their way and talks about how he was originally going to win the WWE Universal Title at WrestleMania last year but that didn’t happen because they decided to go with Brock vs Goldberg instead. Chris wondered what he had done wrong but in reality, it’s about business and what’s best for business.
James says he’s not bitter and he can’t be bitter because it was great working there and the guys in the locker room were fun. He and Carmella became good friends because they spent 11 months on the road. Chris used to rib Big Cass about this (who was Carmella’s boyfriend at the time).
Chris asks how did Ellsworth turn heel (42:06 into the podcast). James says he had one more match with A.J. where if he won, he would get a contract and a title match (ladder match). Ellsworth ended up winning the match (with some help from Dean Ambrose). At TLC, Ambrose and Styles were wrestling for the title. Ellsworth interfered in that match causing Ambrose to lose because James thought he could beat A.J. When James had his match with A.J. (and this time without Ambrose), he got beat quickly.
Chris asks if James about international tours. James said he did four, The UK 3 times and Japan/China. James appreciated travelling and would always take the opportunity to find something to see. James says the coolest thing he’s seen is Alcatraz but internationally, he liked the Robin Hood statue in Nottingham because he was a Robin Hood fan. James talks about going to Hawaii and surfing with Shinsuke Nakamura. James says Nakamura is awesome at surfing.
Chris asks about the fans (50:01 into the podcast). James says he loves wrestling fans and says they are the most passionate fans (as well as music fans). He’s been called every name in the book and would share derogatory tweets about him and burn the person back. James would even give JBL names that he could use to tweet about Ellsworth. James says at first wrestling fans were really behind him to get him signed. He thinks the fans felt funny when he was beating A.J. Styles because everyone (especially the internet fans) loved Styles.
When James teamed with Carmella and especially the MITB match, he got tons of heat. James says a minute after he got released, Carmella called him to make sure he was OK and stayed on the phone with him until he was ready to get off. They still text everyday and knows he has a friend in Carmella for life. Chris says he has respect from his peers. Guys like Dolph and A.J. were saying nice things about him and even Scott Dawson said something about James and they didn’t really know each other. Chris goes back to when he and Seth Rollins snickering at James when he first came in but realizing James knew what he was doing.
James talks about how much he cares about and how much he loves this business. When he was in the WWE, he felt he always had to prove himself because he was the oddball.
Chris asked what the reaction has been from other companies and promoters (58:27 into the podcast). James said he took a day to clear his head and put his contact on Twitter. In one day he had gotten 106 requests. James said he got asked to do some cool podcasts but wanted to do Jericho’s to come full circle.
Chris asks what James’ gameplan is moving forward. James says he wants to make a living off wrestling and use the 16 month run in the WWE and wrestle for the rest of his life. James says it looks like he’ll be going overseas to the UK and Australia in March. He says the WWE gave him an opportunity to make a name for himself and he’s gonna run with it. James gives Chris props for his ability to reinvent himself and the Alpha vs. Omega match.
The talk briefly about names and how James Ellsworth is his real name (his full name is James Ellsworth Morris). Chris has trademarked the Chris Jericho name, however, he doesn’t own Y2J or the list and that’s all he needs.
As a final question, Chris asks what James’ favorite match or moment was in the WWE (1:04:20 into the podcast). James says he was able to wrestle Cena which was very cool. He also says his match with Becky Lynch was probably his most fun match. He says his favorite moment was getting the 2 and a half count on A.J. during their title match and the women’s MITB match. James has a theory that when he climbed the ladder to grab the briefcase, they wanted him to take the belt but when they dropped it to Carmella, that’s where the heat came in.
They briefly talk about intergender matches and James says the best one was Jericho/Christian vs Trish Stratus/Lita.
Chris says James has had some great moments but the best is yet to come. James says hopefully they’ll be talking on TIJ in a year. Chris thanks James and says he’s proud of James. James says the most fun he’s had in his life was the 16 month WWE run and quickly talks about being at WrestleMania that year. He couldn’t get into the fact he was at WrestleMania until he walked out and saw the crowd. Chris thanks James and they sigh off.
1:09:11 – Show wrap
Chris thanks James for being on the podcast and lists out some of James’ appearances. Chris pushes James’ social media (@realsellsworth on Twitter, @jamesellsworthwrestling on instagram). Chris lists out some upcoming Fozzy dates, pushes the Jericho Cruise and that’s a wrap.
Rating – 8/10
This was a fun podcast. I remember James’ first podcast with Chris and I love the fact he did his first podcast after his release with Chris. James has a great story and had a great run in the WWE. The behind the scenes info on the angle with A.J. and Dean was interesting to listen to. James comes across as a good guy and someone you would root for. He’s also proof that if you work hard enough and want it enough, good things can happen.
0:00 – Intro
1:20 – James Ellsworth
3:40 – How James Feels After His Release
7:51 – Had James Had Any Discussions With Vince
10:40 – What the WWE Said To James When He Got Released
15:37 – How James Got Hired
17:39 – James Gets Scared In The Ring
22:49 – Chris Gets The Styles Clash Unbanned
26:31 – James’s Title Match With A.J
34:43 – How James Got His Contract
38:48 – What The Locker Room Thought When He Got Released
42:06 – James’ Heel Turn
50:01 – Chris Asks About The Fans
58:27 – Reaction Of Other Companies and Promoters
1:04:20 – Favorite Match/Moment
1:09:11 – Show Wrap
Joe lives in Toronto, Canada with his wife and two boys. He’s been watching wrestling for about 40 years (give or take) but don’t consider himself any sort of expert. He just likes wrestling. Check him out on twitter and instagram @ja113.
For more, check out Talk is Jericho with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.