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May 19 2019 | Published by | 00 comments

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You didn’t think it would be that easy, did you? What – either Finn Bálor, Andrade, Ali, Randy Orton, Ricochet, Baron Corbin or Drew McIntyre was just going to scale a ladder, take the briefcase and jump to the next-man-up position for a World Title opportunity? If there has been any lesson over the last seven years, it’s that the next man up is always Brock Lesnar, and The Beast Incarnate made it official when he crashed the Men’s Money in the Bank Match, dispatched Ali from the top of a ladder, and seized the contract for himself. Those destructive 10 seconds put an unexpected exclamation point on what was one of the most hellacious Money in the Bank Matches of all time.

Lesnar’s involvement aside, no one can accuse any of the remaining seven competitors of giving anything but their best. Ali and Ricochet engaged in a move-for-move dogfight, seemingly hovering inches off the ground at all times. Not to be undone, Bálor and Andrade threw hands on the rungs of a ladder, with Andrade getting the better of the exchange via a sunset flip onto a second ladder that bounced the Intercontinental Champion roughly 10 feet in the air. Orton turned back the clock, dropping dudes on tables and dishing out a textbook RKO to McIntyre, who ran through the entire field singlehandedly. Corbin was, of course, his usual underhanded self, breaking his alliance with McIntyre and sending Ricochet through a ladder that had been bridging the ring and announce table, shattering it in half with the impact.

Conspicuous by his absence had been Sami Zayn, who was found strung up by his ankles in the backstage area during the early hours of the show. Although a rampaging Braun Strowman was blamed, the question of his fate and attacker grew more and more distant as the carnage began to stack up. In the end, it was Ali who was perched atop the ladder when Lesnar’s music blared and the former Universal Champion sprinted to the ring, knocking a ladder into a cameraman, throwing Ali from his crow’s nest, and scaling up to grab the briefcase with a shark-like grin spread across his teeth. “That’s too bad,” he leered as the Superstars who had sacrificed almost everything stirred feebly. If you’re Universal Champion Seth Rollins, or anybody who wants to be Universal Champion, that’s an understatement.

May 14 2019 | Published by | 00 comments

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With all four Superstars wanting to make a major statement ahead of the Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match this Sunday, Intercontinental Champion Finn Bálor, Ali, Andrade and Randy Orton collided in a chaotic Fatal 4-Way Match.

The no disqualification nature of Fatal 4-Way Match came into play when a ladder was (fittingly) introduced into the melee. All four attempted to use it as a weapon, and Orton leveled Ali with an RKO after the surging Superstar was unable to connect with his signature 054.

In the clutch, Finn connected with an awe-inspiring dive onto The Viper and Ali, but Andrade capitalized by sneaking up on the Intercontinental Champion, ramming him into the steel steps and hitting his Hammerlock DDT to pick up a major victory.

Andrade began to ascend the ladder to symbolically grab the briefcase hanging above the ring, but his climb was interrupted by Raw’s Ricochet (thanks Wild Card Rule!), who dropped Andrade from the top of the ladder and grabbed the Money in the Bank briefcase before exiting.

Was this a sign of things to come for Ricochet come Sunday night at WWE Money in the Bank?

Apr 07 2019 | Published by | 00 comments

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The road from “Saturday Night Live” fame to WrestleMania infamy is a short one — about 6 feet or so as it turns out. Colin Jost and Michael Che traveled each and every one of them in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, courtesy of a can’t-be-stopped, man-on-a-mission Braun Strowman, who almost singlehandedly ran through the entire field to become the sixth winner of WrestleMania’s signature melee.

The Monster Among Men was all-business from the bell, and clearly had no patience for a feel-good story of any kind. Strowman put an end to not just one, but several sentimental favorites. SmackDown LIVE mainstay Ali? Gone. A returning Harper? Adios. Last year’s winner Matt Hardy? Him too, as well as his brother Jeff.

Jost and Che, for their part, saw the writing on the wall early on and hid underneath the ring at the opening bell — though Jost, perhaps, wanted to avoid drawing undue attention to his Odell Beckham Jr. Browns jersey — and while they attempted to steal the win by ganging up on Strowman as he tended to the Hardys, their big play failed and they found themselves with nowhere to run.

They tried to get out of it. Jost brought in his therapist to try and talk Strowman down. You can guess what happened to him. Che, wearing wrestling headgear and a WrestleMania hoodie, tried to eliminate himself, only to be stopped on the apron by Strowman and decked to the outside. Jost, inexplicably, found himself with a fighting chance when Braun accidentally got himself tangled in the ropes, but The Monster Among Men overpowered the comedian, hoisted him onto his shoulders, and sent him flying over the ring into a crowd of onlookers to claim the win.

From WrestleMania 35, he’s Braun Strowman. Thank you, goodnight.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

Dec 18 2018 | Published by | 00 comments

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After WWE Champion “The New” Daniel Bryan earned a victory against AJ Styles at WWE TLC, The Beard arrived on SmackDown LIVE claiming that he destroyed The House that AJ Styles Built and chastising the WWE Universe for destroying the planet. Bryan would look to defend what he now considered to be his house as he teamed with Andrade “Cien” Almas to take on Styles and 205 Live stalwart Mustafa Ali.

Action came early and often in this main event tag team match, with Ali and Almas throwing caution to the wind and scrapping it out like a pair of hungry lions, impressing the WWE Universe and stunning their opponents with their mettle. Finally though, Styles got his hands on Bryan, and the two picked up right where they left off this past Sunday.

The Phenomenal One seemed to have Bryan right where he wanted when he locked in the Calf Crusher, but Almas ran interference and broke up the submission hold. However, once Ali took Andrade out at ringside with a hurricanrana, it was down to AJ and the WWE Champion in the ring. “The New” Daniel Bryan tried to keep Styles down with a barrage of strikes and kicks, but AJ kept rallying back. Styles then tagged in Ali and took out Almas with the Phenomenal Forearm, giving Ali the opening to connect with his dazzling 054 on the WWE Champion and get the pinfall.

Welcome to the new SmackDown LIVE

Dec 11 2018 | Published by | 00 comments

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Daniel Bryan has proven over the last few weeks he’s no longer interested in hero worship, but onetime admirer Mustafa Ali provided a bit of a bonus for the WWE Champion: Bryan could actually beat him up.

Of course, Bryan preferred not to have the match at all, as he believed the WWE Universe was too fickle to deserve it, and besides, Ali was just a “small little man” whose decision to drive an SUV put him on the level of the “sheep” in the audience. But when the Cruiserweight daredevil responded to Bryan’s literal and figurative slaps to the face with a flurry of offense, the champion decided to give the man what he asked for.

He got as good as he gave. Despite controlling the match early on, Bryan attempted to go high-risk, which played right into his opponent’s hands, and The Beard found himself subjected to an impressive array of high-octane offense. Ali came inches from victory with an 054 attempt, but Bryan evaded the maneuver and grounded the high-flier with a series of attacks on his leg before forcing him to submit to a heel hook. Bryan continued his attack after the bell, stomping Ali’s face and locking in another heel hook on the ramp. Whether the post-match assault was a statement directed at AJ Styles, the 205 Live roster, or the WWE Universe was somewhat unclear. The message, however, was crystal clear.