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Mar 10 2019 | Published by | 00 comments

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It’s looking more and more like the differences between “The New” Daniel Bryan and “The Old” Daniel Bryan begin and end with the fact that his WWE Championship is made of burlap rather than leather. If you give him a limb, he will bend and twist it until you submit. If you leave your face uncovered, he will find a way to get his knee to hit it. Whoever is in the ring with him, he finds a way to win. And if you throw a third guy in the match, he’ll beat him too.

Yes, the WWE Title Match at WWE Fastlane was a Triple Threat as Mr. McMahon had promised; the third man just wasn’t Kofi Kingston. Instead, the X-factor for the evening was Mustafa Ali, who threw himself heart, body and soul into a match that Bryan seemed to think he didn’t deserve, and Kevin Owens — the original challenger — was determined to make him regret entering at all. The former “Heart of 205 Live” flaunted Newton’s Law at will, not so much wrestling his opponents as picking them apart from above, and if the strategy was a tough one to counter for a brawler like Owens and a grappler like Bryan, it had the distinct disadvantage of taking as much out of Ali as it did out of them.

Not to be outdone, Owens made like his T-shirt and fought everyone, even dishing out one of his newfound Stunners and one of his old-school Pop-up Powerbombs on the ring apron, both to Ali. Bryan, wisely, largely kept himself out of Owens’ grasp, letting his two challengers fight it out until it was down to one. Thanks to an assist from Rowan, who dispatched Owens down the stretch, the last man standing was Ali. The champion once again disparaged his opponent’s credentials, slapping him across the face and screaming that he didn’t deserve to be in the match. The insults awakened Ali’s competitive fire, and the former Cruiserweight geared up for one final push — only to be met in midair by a Running Knee from Bryan that dropped him like a rock and handed The Planet’s Champion yet another one of his signature victories, new, old or otherwise.

Of course, there was one Superstar conspicuous by his absence in the match: Kofi Kingston. The WWE Universe, still disgruntled over the various corporate shenanigans that kept Kingston from the match, periodically lapsed into vocal, impassioned cheers for The Dreadlocked Dynamo. It wasn’t that they weren’t happy to have Owens back, or that Ali didn’t take their breath away. But at the end of the day, there’s one man that Daniel Bryan was supposed to face, and he didn’t. For the WWE Universe, there may well be something attached to this win that really is new for Daniel Bryan: an asterisk.

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Jan 20 2019 | Published by | 00 comments

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It came down to Braun Strowman and Seth Rollins. One a physical marvel possessing all the tangible traits — power, speed and size — that it takes to make a WWE Superstar. The other an embodiment of all the intangibles that a WrestleMania main-eventer must possess. And as it has so often been over the last two years, the heart won out. Thanks to a grueling final push, Rollins eliminated The Monster Among Men to win the Men’s Royal Rumble Match, charting a course to a World Championship Match at WrestleMania 35.

Size vs. heart wasn’t just the story of the match’s conclusion, however. It was also a common thread throughout the entire wild, over-the-top rope contest. At various points in the match, giants and speedsters mixed it up, with a handful of truly unexpected interactions that showcased the little guy wouldn’t always be as helpless as he seemed. WWE United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne was a surprise draw at No. 18, and he immediately made one of the more remarkable statements of the match, using his excruciating joint manipulation to muscle Drew McIntyre (No. 16; three eliminations) to his knees. Elsewhere, NXT North American Champion Johnny Gargano (No. 6) eliminated a former WWE Champion in Jinder Mahal. Black-and-gold hellion Aleister Black (No. 21) sent Dean Ambrose (No. 14) over the top rope with his spinning Black Mass kick. And Cruiserweight-turned–SmackDown LIVE stalwart Mustafa Ali (No. 13) eliminated both his rival Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura, the 2018 Men’s Rumble Match winner who had recaptured the United States Championship earlier in the night.

Even Rollins himself ended up on the wrong side of a confrontation with a goliath. After he instantly eliminated Bobby Lashley (No. 26), The All-Mighty plunged Rollins through a table, where he lay unmoving for several minutes while chaos raged around him. Strowman (No. 27) largely picked up the pace in Rollins’ absence by racking up four eliminations, though even he was waylaid outside the ring for a stretch, where the night’s strangest entrant reared her (yes, her) head.

That would be Nia Jax, who bushwhacked No. 30 entrant R-Truth from behind to steal his berth after a disappointing exit from the Women’s Royal Rumble Match. Only the fourth woman to compete in a Men’s Rumble Match, The Irresistible Force didn’t hesitate to mix it up with her male contemporaries, eliminating Mustafa Ali and largely holding her own until a concentrated effort from Randy Orton (No. 29), Rey Mysterio (No. 25) and Dolph Ziggler (No. 28) finally sent her packing. (For what it’s worth, a close second in terms of bizarre interactions was the duet-turned-brawl between Elias and Jeff Jarrett at Nos. 1 and 2.)

Jax’s exit opened the door for Strowman to return, and The Monster Among Men quickly thinned the field by eliminating Ziggler and rising star Andrade (No. 19), who eliminated Orton in his own right. It was down to just Strowman and Rollins, and it quickly became clear the latter, who was still reeling from Lashley’s table attack, was staring down an uphill battle.

The Monster Among Men manhandled his opponent until Rollins finally managed to muscle him over the top rope and onto the apron for the climactic slugfest. Thanks to some deft maneuvering and a well-placed superkick, Rollins got Strowman to his knees, and a final Stomp brought Strowman’s forehead to the apron and his feet to the floor.

Rollins made a point on Monday to discuss how his passion and his heart had carried him through the wild ups and downs of the past two years. He said, in effect, it would always keep him going. It didn’t fail him now: Seth Rollins went the distance, and now there’s just one thing left to do.

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Jan 15 2019 | Published by | 00 comments

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SmackDown LIVE’s newest sensation, Mustafa Ali, was scheduled to square off against Samoa Joe in the biggest one-on-one match of Ali’s SmackDown LIVE tenure thus far … but Joe made sure the match never got underway. Ali was clearly ready to roll as he entered the ring, but Joe blitzed Mustafa prior to the bell, beating the upstart down with a vicious assault that saw The Samoan Submission Machine twice ram Ali face-first into the ring post before hurling him into the ringside barricade with all his might. Samoa Joe promised that this was merely a preview of what was going to happen to every Superstar he crosses paths with in the Men’s Royal Rumble Match.

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Jan 08 2019 | Published by | 00 comments

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Two super pairs were formed as Andrade “Cien” Almas teamed with Samoa Joe to take on Rey Mysterio and SmackDown LIVE’s newest sensation, Mustafa Ali.

All four Superstars have crossed paths in recent weeks and will compete in the Royal Rumble, setting the stage for an explosive tag team bout tonight. Mysterio and Ali used their dynamic and explosive arsenals to keep Almas and Joe reeling in the early goings, but Joe and Andrade neutralized their opponents as the contest progressed. Rey and Mustafa refused to stay down, but were often put there, such as when Joe caught a flying Ali on the floor and chucked him right over the announcer’s table. Still, in the match’s pivotal moments, it appeared that Rey and Ali were closing in on victory, but with Joe and Ali both downed on the outside, Almas countered a 619 and dropped The Ultimate Underdog with his signature Hammerlock DDT for what was arguably the biggest win of El Idolo’s career.

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Jan 01 2019 | Published by | 00 comments

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All five Superstars threw caution to the wind right from the opening bell, with Team Blue newcomer Mustafa Ali going right after Samoa Joe, only to get slammed into the canvas. AJ Styles continued to show the aggression that Mr. McMahon witnessed last week, pummeling Randy Orton and Ali.

With Daniel Bryan watching from the backstage area, all five men threw everything they had at each other, taking flight and unleashing vicious strikes. As the bout reached its apex, it seemed Styles would not be a factor in the outcome, as Orton and Joe double-teamed him before Joe slammed him through the announcers table. Ali and Rey Mysterio then dazzled the WWE Universe with their breathtaking aerial offense. Ali nearly had the WWE Title Match secured, but Samoa Joe evaded The 054 and locked on the Coquina Clutch. Mysterio then took out The Samoan Submission Machine and Ali with a pair of 619s before being dumped by Orton. The Viper was seemingly seconds away from clinching a title bout after he planted Ali with an RKO, but Mysterio broke up the pin. A 619 to Orton looked to be Mysterio’s ticket to Phoenix, but Samoa Joe pulled him off the ring apron, giving Styles the opening to connect with a springboard 450 Splash to pin The Viper and earn the WWE Championship Match.

The match is set for Phoenix. Who will leave Royal Rumble with the WWE Championship: “The New” Daniel Bryan or “The Real” AJ Styles?

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