James Ellsworth has been a thorn in Asuka’s side since he magically returned to the world of the WWE (as Carmella’s minion) during last month’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view (PPV). He helped the SmackDown LIVE’s Women’s Champion to retain that night, so, in an effort to keep Ellsworth at bay come Extreme Rules, SD LIVE General Manager Paige offered a unique stipulation for the Extreme Rules’ Asuka versus Carmella match (part two) this Sunday by locking James Ellsworth up in a shark tank during the bout.
With Ellsworth suspended above the ring, seeming unable to interfere, everything will be Zen, right? But, will a shark tank really help Asuka?
The WWE Universe has seen this played out before, multiple times. There was that time Chris Jericho was suspended above the ring during the Royal Rumble 2017 to prevent him from helping out then-BFF Kevin Owens during his Universal Championship match; mere months later, Enzo Amore hung above the ring during Big Show’s bout with Big Cass at SummerSlam. Not to mention the tank making an appearance during an NXT TakeOver event with the Authors of Pain and Paul Ellering.
Therefore, the shark tank concept is fresh in everyone’s mind at this point. And its not that the concept isn’t a cool one; however, it does seem a little over done … and somewhat predictable at this point … not to mention a tad cheesballish. Because, let’s face it: while whomever is hanging above the ring seems to be restrained, they still find a way to interfere. In Jericho’s case, he was able to drop something into the ring he had on him; in Amore’s case, he literally slid through the cage’s bars to jump out of the contraption and into the ring.
Having said all that, it’s hard for a long-time wrestling fan to not roll their eyes at this stipulation, as one has to question if a shark tank will help Asuka in the end. If the concept is booked differently, then maybe there is a chance to see something new; however, if its not, the shark tank may continue to be viewed as a “same old/same old” stipulation if it is not put under a rock for a bit.
Sadly, I don’t think Asuka will win gold come Sunday’s Extreme Rules; however, I’m not overly broken hearted around the idea. Asuka had an extremely successful run in NXT and an undefeated streak within the company that shattered WWE record books. In fact, she’s ingrained in the brand’s history as the first-ever Women’s Royal Rumble winner, as well as being the sole survivor of the RAW women’s team at the 2017 Survivor Series event. She’s had a great run during her first year on the main roster, and helping to push others over for a bit seems appropriately in the cards. Carmella is having a fantastic heel run with the SD LIVE women’s championship, and getting a rub from Asuka in this regard is needed.
— WWE (@WWE) July 11, 2018
Still, if the Extreme Rules match is booked well, it will not only showcase the Empress’ strengths, in-ring technique, and have her leaving the match looking strong – it will also offer a mix of entertaining and comedic antidotes from James Ellsworth, with a streak of heel aggression, underhanded maneuvers, and all-around disgusting behavior from Carmella.
Here’s hoping the ladies (and gentleman) put on a solid bout come Sunday; despite the cheesiness of the tank.