Recently on Talk Is Jericho, pro wrestling great Chris Jericho spoke with former WWE Superstar James Ellsworth. Among other things, Ellsworth shared the original storyline idea that would have brought him back to WWE at SummerSlam (2016). Also, Ellsworth talked about botching AJ Styles' signature Styles Clash and Jericho discussed getting the maneuver unbanned in WWE.
According to Ellsworth, there was a bit of time between being squashed by Braun Strowman on RAW and resurfacing with WWE on SmackDown Live. Ellsworth divulged that he was originally supposed to be brought back to WWE to face Heath Slater at SummerSlam.
"After the Strowman thing, that was July 25, 2016, so a couple of weeks later, I get an email, 'hey, there may be an idea for you for SummerSlam. I'm like, 'SummerSlam?' and he's like, 'yeah! It's the Barclays Center and you can drive there from Baltimore. From Baltimore to Barclays is three hours. So I'm like, 'cool' and I'm thinking that I'm going to be a part of SummerSlam." Ellsworth recalled, "the Friday before SummerSlam, I get an email, 'hey, creative change - we don't have anything for you for SummerSlam. Hopefully, we'll call you soon.' I found out what happened months after that what SummerSlam was supposed to be. When Heath Slater, remember Heath Slater, he didn't get drafted to RAW or SmackDown? He was a free agent. He was trying to get a contract out of both. The idea was he was supposed to come out at SummerSlam demanding [from] Daniel Bryan, 'I want a contract' and Bryan's trying to make it easy for him, 'alright, I'll give you a SmackDown contract - the only thing you have to do is beat this guy!' and it was me! And the idea was I was supposed to go over and win the contract! But what happened was Heath Slater ended up getting babyface reactions before then. He was getting over as a babyface in that angle, so they didn't want to do that."
On the subject of feuding with current WWE Champion AJ Styles, Ellsworth discussed botching the Styles Clash. Moreover, Ellsworth admitted that Styles saved his life.
"In practice, he's hitting me with the Styles Clash and it's a dangerous maneuver. I've never talked about this, I think. It's easy, yes, it's easy. In practice, he hit me with it fine." Ellsworth remembered panicking during the match, "he picks me up for that, man, and, at first, I'm fine. And then, I just freak out! 'What's he doing? What's going on?' And then, he saves my life. Like, he made sure I didn't [get hurt]."
Ellsworth acknowledged that an important lesson about fear can be learned from his error.
"From day one in wrestling school, 'tuck your chin, tuck your chin, tuck your chin' and we did it in practice. It's easy! AJ even tells you, 'you do nothing. I pick you up. You don't move.'" Ellsworth said, "like, AJ, the way he explains it to you it sounds so easy, 'dude, you don't do anything. Just don't move.' And it is the easiest thing to take. So the lesson to be learned is 'you can't be scared, man.' You can't be scared because it'll mess you up.' I don't know [how AJ saved the day]! Whatever he did, I think he might have put a knee down first."
Although Jericho did not take credit for inventing the Styles Clash, The Gift Of Jericho in this scenario was getting the move unbanned in WWE.
"I'm the one that got in unbanned in the WWE because of the reputation of it and some guys have gotten hurt, so they banned it. I was working with AJ right when he came in. I was like, 'is this banned or not?' It was kind of unsaid, so I thought, 'I'll start having him use it and just not call it that.' Yeah, [Styles Clash is a cool move] and so easy! 'We just won't call it the Styles Clash.' And then, he used it a few times. I went to Vince [McMahon] one night and I said, 'hey, you know that move AJ used yesterday,' I think, 'at WrestleMania? It's kind of like a piledriver, but he falls forward?' 'Yeah, that's a great move.' 'He can use it at the finish tonight, add another thing in his arsenal. It's cool. It's an easy bump to take.' 'Let's do it.' And the secret is I never called it the Styles Clash because that was the taboo word. If I said, 'he's got this move called the Styles Clash…' 'Nope!' 'He [has] got this move where he piledrivers you on your face.' 'I love it.' And that's kind of how it came into fruition."
Listen in, man. If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: Talk Is Jericho