I wasn’t a huge fan of Carmella and James Ellsworth being paired together on “Smackdown Live,” when it first happened in January.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a fan Carmella's ever since I saw her in NXT. When she was drafted to Smackdown Live, I thought it was a bit too soon but she’s grown as a performer in the last year. Putting her with Ellsworth didn’t make sense to me for awhile. I thought she had a good run with Nikki Bella and was coming along on her own that she didn't really need a heater. But since they've been together, she's had some big moments on the blue brand, including mixing it up with John Cena and Bella and pinning women's champion Naomi twice.
Then I watched tonight’s Money in the Bank pay per view where Carmella won the women's Money in the Bank ladder match - a first in WWE history - after Ellsworth climbed the ladder, grabbed the briefcase and unceremoniously dropped it in her hands.
Folks were upset at the finish. Obviously Carmella didn’t win the briefcase in the most honorable way - but it’s wrestling and heels cheat to win whether it’s by using an illegal object, distracting the referee or in this case, outside interference.
Storyline wise, the wrestlers from the match, as well as officials seemed just as angry at Ellsworth actions. In fact, Smackdown Live General Manager Daniel Bryan said he would address the situation on Tuesday so Carmella's status as Ms. Money in the Bank may be up in the air.
Beyond the ring, fans are peeved because they felt this historical moment was tainted because Ellsworth, who is not a woman, retrieved the briefcase, seemingly robbing Carmella of her moment.
I would have loved to see Carmella climb up the ladder, unlock the briefcase and hoist that baby in the air, but this finish worked for me for a few different reasons.
Again, we’ve established Carmella is a heel and Ellsworth is her heater. Unlike the typical male-female wrestler pairing Ellsworth is not this imposing figure that will use brute force to win matches for his lady. He’s a manservant who will do Carmella’s bidding. We’ve seen heels get help from their valets or managers to win big matches - look at The Miz and Maryse.
There were small things that added to this finish - Carmella celebrating like she legitimately won the match, even though she knew she had help. Like any great heel, she’s going to continue to validate her victory, regardless of how she won.
The referees arguing outside after the match added a bit of mystery to the match and had me wondering if they would reverse the decision. Then Ellsworth grabbed the microphone and declared Carmella the winner and she soaked it in.
What was also great about the finish was Ellsworth costing Becky Lynch the briefcase. Their rivalry on air and Twitter has planted the seeds for what could be an eventual showdown between the two.
Although WWE is not keen on intergender matches, you could make an exception for Ellsworth because there’s a good chance that Lynch and the other women on Smackdown - including Carmella - could beat him in a match.
Say what you want about the finish, this match raised Carmella’s stock as a heel. It will be interesting to see where she goes from here. Who knows, maybe she’ll be wearing Smackdown gold around her waist at some point in the future - or she’ll make Ellsworth carry it for her.