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Mustafa Ali: Seizing Opportunity on WWE SmackDown Live

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Mustafa Ali Daniel Bryan WWE Smackdown

Much has been said about Mustafa Ali’s incredible debut on SmackDown Live’s main roster. Many fans have praised him for his athletic ability and his work in the ring. Others have criticized him for nailing Daniel Bryan in the head while executing his 054 finisher.

But despite all of the positive and negative points that have been made, it’s clear that Ali’s move to the blue brand is creating a buzz. Pinning the WWE champion only helped his cause, of course as that was a moment that no one saw coming. But how many more of those moments lay ahead for Mustafa Ali?

This is what WWE does best. When the company is firing on all cylinders, they simply cannot be touched by anyone else. Spotlighting a talent and generating real interest is an art and Vince McMahon’s company has a long history of doing just that. It’s not always perfect and WWE is not infallible of course. But in this instance, everything is clicking along just fine.

Mustafa Ali walked onto SmackDown Live like a breath of fresh air. He simply came down the ramp, confronted Daniel Bryan and got his point across on the mic. The crowd was on Ali’s side and they respected him for what he had to say. 

Ali didn’t scream. He didn’t curse. He was professional and he was straight to the point. Mustafa made his case to the champ and the fans believed every word he said. Some compared this to the moment when John Cena confronted Kurt Angle at the dawn of the Ruthless Aggression Era. But maybe it’s something more.

Ali did not look like a guy that was ready to come in and make a major impact. That’s not to suggest he hasn’t done that. But he did not have Cena’s swagger or bravado. Ali was just a regular guy with something to say and he said it for the whole world to hear.

Mustafa Ali is not a fresh face in the business. Ali has been a professional wrestler for 15 years. He’s worked all over the world. He’s competed at WrestleMania. Ali had an entire career’s worth of experience behind him long before he joined SmackDown Live. 

Mustafa carries himself like a man that’s already been there. He’s comfortable in his own skin and he knows who he is. More importantly, he knows what he can do. It’s that confidence that makes him appealing to fans in a way that Cena couldn’t be in the beginning. Ali doesn’t have to slug his way through a match or throw different personalities at the crowd in order to get attention. Those things worked for Cena. But Ali is different.

Then there’s the fact that Mustafa is coming to the blue brand at just the right time. He did his tour on 205 Live and he proved he can handle himself. Now he’s coming to a program that needs another viable top babyface. It also needs another talented wrestler. Mustafa Ali fits into both of those categories perfectly.

SmackDown Live is known as the wrestling show, after all. What better place for a guy that has shown what he can do between the ropes? 205 Live may not be the highest rated brand in WWE at this point but there’s no debating the quality of the program. Fans know what they’re getting when they watch the cruiserweights go to war. Mustafa Ali was a big part of that.

But now he’s got a new war on SmackDown Live. He’s only two weeks in but so far, so good. WWE has made a point of showing him backstage with other stars like The Usos and The New Day, which gives Ali the rub. Teaming with AJ Styles, the man that is perhaps the best in the world right now, is only adding to Ali’s presentation. 

Mustafa and Styles have been seen cooperating as a unit and working together on a major WWE brand. This is huge for Ali, as it shows that the company has faith in his ability to carry this new responsibility and fill this new role. If there had been any doubt as to Ali’s comfort level going in, then he would likely have not been given the nod. But now that he’s there, it’s obvious that he fits.

But even as fans watch this situation unfold, there is the issue of what happened in the match with Daniel Bryan. Ali came off the top rope with the 054 and hit Bryan in the head with his knee. It was clear from the moment it happened that Ali had screwed the move, though it was obviously not intentional. Ali has likely hit the move 100 times before and not hurt anyone in the process. 

However when it happens on the worldwide stage on his first night as a SmackDown Live Superstar? That’s indeed a cause for concern. But what’s even more concerning is Ali’s recent appearance on Lillian Garcia’s Chasing Glory podcast. His words in regards to the 054 maneuver were a bit prophetic, especially in light of what happened with Daniel.

“I’m sure my opponents are not going to be too thrilled to hear this but I don’t know what I’m doing up there. I literally close my eyes and I just jump. My body just takes over and thankfully I haven’t hurt anybody. I jump and I tuck and I don’t know what happens and somehow I land where I land.”

Ali did say that he was in full control of his body and that he’s comfortable in the air. But WWE as a company must of course take precaution that no Superstar is hurting anyone else or using moves that can result in any sort of permanent injury. Having said that, pro wrestling is not ballet. Daniel Bryan knows what he’s getting into when he steps into the ring, just as everyone else does. But considering his past history with concussions, the impact of Ali’s knee to Daniel’s head was indeed a cringeworthy moment.

But if Ali works safe and if he adjusts this move to better protect his opponent, then there’s no reason to believe he won’t be an asset, instead of a liability in the ring. Mustafa Ali has worked too hard and come too far to let anything stop him now. He’s surely not the perfect wrestler and he’s probably not the second coming of Shawn Michaels.

However Ali does have a major platform and a prime opportunity to impress like never before. The world is watching and he understands that as well as expects it. The main goal of anyone coming to WWE should be to get on the main roster and become a top performer. This must certainly also be true of Mustafa Ali, who is only just getting started.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Andrew’s Impact Wrestling Ratings & Analysis 7/19/2019

Impact Mash Up Tournament tonight! Winning team earns a 1v1 match with a title shot attached! WCW Lethal Lottery is back!

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Impact Mash Up Tournament tonight! Winning team earns a 1v1 match with a title shot attached! WCW Lethal Lottery is back!

WCW Lethal Lottery show!

Wait – I mean Mash Up Tournament…no wait, I was right the first time. I wonder if there’s a Battlebowl at the end.

From a clip show to a filler show, I’m not really sure how to feel. Tonight could be cool, but I doubt it will matter much in the grand scheme of things.

Damn you Impact and Dragonball for your non-canonical movies!

Ratings:

  • Moose & Eddie Edwards vs Rohit Raju & Cody Deaner: Edwards wins via Boston Knee Party – * 1/2
  • Rich Swann & Madman Fulton vs Jake Crist & Wentz: Jake wins via Fisherman Buster Hold – ** 1/4
  • Michael Elgin & Willie Mack vs Ace Austin & Stone Rockwell: Elgin wins via Elgin Bomb – **
  • Trey & Dave Crist vs Sami Callihan & Tessa Blanchard: Callihan wins via Piledriver – ***
  • Havok vs Madison Rayne vs Taya Valkyrie: Havok wins via Tombstone Piledriver – ** 1/2
  • Mash-Up Finals Elimination Match: Eddie Edwards & Moose vs Willie Mack & Michael Elgin vs Jake Crist & Wentz vs Sami Callihan & Tessa Blanchard: Tessa & Sami win – *** 1/4

 

Analysis:

So the inaugural match of this Mash Up Tournament and it’s decently established wrestlers against two jobber halves of a tag teams. This had no chance of being taken seriously. Things break down, Moose and Eddie win, Desi Hit Squad and Deaner brawl a little. This really got the night kicked off with a yawn and fart.

Zombie Princess is interviewing Ace Austin and Eddie Prince, Austin insults his mish mosh teammate and now he’s hung out to dry. Will he find a replacement?

Well this was a little odd since it was 3 Cruiserweight sized people and Madman Fulton. We got some decent Cruiser style wrestling until the inevitable turn from Fulton happened and he assisted Jake in beating Rich. So maybe Jake will be in line for an X Division shot.

Is it hard for me to care about some of this? That’s a resounding yes. Austin gets saddled with the comedy act of Stone Rockwell and we hate all of these things. Of course Elgin and Mack mostly dominate, this wasn’t close, Ace is a jerk, yadda yadda…Lethal Lottery nap time!

Well we finally had a somewhat competitive match. Dave and Sami planned a finger poke of Doom spot since we don’t already have enough WCW references tonight. Trey also decided to dress up exactly like Sami and channels his inner Sami. Tessa and Sami start dysfunctional but they put it together enough. Tessa hits Magnum on Trey but tweaks something so Sami picks up the pinfall with the Piledriver. Solid match with a lot of drama and character spots.

ImpactPlus Flashback Momenet: oVe vs Eddie Edwards, Moose & Tommy Dreamer House of Hardcore Match Redemption 4/22/2018

Well the writing was on the wall with this match too. Havok is twice the size of the other women and Taya is a self preserving champion, so we had to figure that Madison was eating the pin here. The match wasn’t awful or anything, but a lack of suspension of disbelief just kinda has it linger and happen.

So the Mash Up Tournament was kinda like Battlebowl. The four winners, come together in a giant four way tag, and the winner of this four way gets a one on one match at Unbreakable for a World Title shot.

We got the finish that most of us probably wanted, and everyone actually looked solid. Moose and Eddie going out first is fine since they were the least cohesive unit. Elgin and Mack only lost because Elgin eventually turned on Mack and just walked out on the match. The we saw Jake Crist defy Sami’s wishes. Sami tried the finger poke, but Jake was playing possum and went for an Inside Cradle, but Sami kicked out. An interesting development was when Tessa faced off with Elgin, Sami shoved her out of the way, like he was protecting her. Then towards the end, her and Sami were in sync trading strikes with Jake and Wentz. So there is tension between the two, but they also came together when it mattered, regardless of the dysfunction. That was a neat wrinkle.

Overall Score: 6.5/10

The show was alright for being mostly filler. But the real highlight of the night was on Twitch, watch Melissa play Fortnite with Sami Callihan and Dave Crist. Between the comments, Melissa being awful at the game and just the general banter, it was all good stuff. Sami’s shoe fetish is a little odd though.

Either way, the show was fine, Twitch made it better when the first hour was pretty obvious and boring. Tessa, Sami and Jake are probably the biggest players to look out for coming out of this Lethal Lottery.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Andrew’s G1 Climax 29 Ratings & Analysis: Night 6 B Block

Juice Robinson, Tomohiro Ishii and Jon Moxley come in at the top of the standings. How do we see B Block take shape?

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Juice Robinson, Tomohiro Ishii and Jon Moxley come in at the top of the standings. How do we see B Block take shape?

This whole day is based around two major things:

Will Jay White or Tetsuya Naito get a win?

Will Moxley or Ishii kill one another?

Let’s find out!

Ratings:

  • Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens vs Zack Sabre Jr & Yoshinobu Kanemaru: Fale wins via Grenade @4:50 – **
  • Tomoaki Honma & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer: Archer wins via EBD Claw Hold @9:50 – **
  • SANADA, EVIL & BUSHI vs KENTA, Kota Ibushi & Clark Connors: BUSHI wins via MX @9:02 – ** 1/2
  • YOSHI-HASHI & Kazuchika Okada vs Will Ospreay & Toa Henare: YOSHI wins via Fisherman Buster @8:45 – ** 1/4
  • B Block: Shingo Takagi vs Taichi: Takagi wins via Last of the Dragon @14:40 – ****
  • B Block: Jeff Cobb vs Juice Robinson: Cobb wins via Tour of the Islands @13:20 – *** 1/2
  • B Block: Toru Yano vs Jay White: Yano wins via Brass Knuckle Low Blow/Roll-Up @3:05 – ** 1/2
  • B Block: Tetsuya Naito vs Hirooki Goto: Naito wins via Destino @16:00 – *** 3/4
  • B Block: Jon Moxley vs Tomohiro Ishii: Moxley wins via Deathrider @20:35 – **** 1/2

 

Analysis:

Well Fale tried to outsmart the Rainmaker in his last G1 match, and that didn’t go too well. So Sabre is being a whiny child, tried to step to Fale and for the most part, got brushed off. Fale isn’t really in a position to eat another loss, but it’s unusual for Sabre to be doing so poorly. I’m curious if Sabre continues this slide until maybe TAKA Michinoku returns to be his hype man, or Sabre gets off the schneid.

People, everybody dies. You know that, Lance knows that, Honma knows that…Kairi Sane knows that. This didn’t really add much to things except the undercurrent of a quiet Minoru Suzuki is scary for the whole world. Also – Everybody Dies!

Now that SANADA and EVIL have had their match, there is some symbiosis back on the LIJ undercards. KENTA and Kota teaming together was a cute call back, but nothing of heavy merit came from this match. BUSHI continues to rack up positive momentum during these tags, Clark Connors is impressive for an LA Dojo Young Lion. So decent match, but aside from EVIL and KENTA brawling after the match and SANADA and Ibushi having a rather civil fan support battle, nothing too important for the impending matches.

Okada and Ospreay did have the crowd hot, but aside from a small flourish, this was mostly YOSHI and Henare. Surprisingly, YOSHI-HASHI has put together a few pinfalls in the tag matches, so that tends to actually play a role in the second half story telling. Ospreay may be on his way to a big upset since even if Okada seems to be positioned to win A Block, he won’t make it through unscathed.

Now this was a fun match. It was a continuation of the Suzuki-Gun/LIJ drama, but Taichi has his own issues. Shingo is fighting as a Junior Heavyweight and Taichi moved up to Heavyweight last year, but was overlooked for the G1. So the fact that Shingo asks and gets in, yet Taichi moves up and was ignored has to bother him. With all of these little things eating through, Taichi brought out the Dangerous T that many of us have grown to love. Sure there was a brief moment of shenanigans with lovely Miho and the microphone stand, but 90% of the match was on the up and up. Pumping Bomber versus Axe Bomber was great, the callbacks to both of their mentors was wonderful and just generally speaking, when the Holy Emperor tries, those are great matches. Shingo getting the win won’t sit well with Taichi, but we’ve got plenty more time to see how this all falls.

Juice starts off the match in a 3 way tie for first, but Cobb really needs a win to legitimize his tournament. Being undefeated in ROH for about a year, as well as all his other accolades, he needs to stop losing. Cobb showed a little more fire than usual in this match and took it to Juice. Juice has been in hard hitting affairs all tournament and it looks like Juice might’ve finally hit the wall. Should be interesting to see if Juice flounders from here or if he recovers.

Well the Chaos revenge tour has another stop with Toru Yano and Jay White. Jay has not gotten off to a good start and it’s all his past decisions coming to bite him. This match…would be no different. Yano takes advantage of Gedo getting involved. Between Barbara Jean the turnbuckle pad and the brass knuckles from Gedo, Jay White’s nuts didn’t stand a chance. So Yano runs away with 2 more points and Jay’s pride…and other things…are a bit sore.

Goto started off the tournament looking like a new man, Naito has also looked different, but for different reasons. Naito sitting in the basement with zero points and Goto with the renewed sense of purpose makes for an odd dynamic. This match is one of their usual ones, where it’s quick bursts, hard hitting and a few solid false finishes. However, at multiple points Naito’s usual tranquilo is shaken and you can see him show levels of concern. Goto being the one with the power in the match, makes for some unique interactions. Naito does pull off the win, but it’s not for Goto’s lack of trying and kicking out of one running Destino. Naito finally gets some points, but it’s nothing near dominant enough to breathe a sigh of relief.

Moxley versus Ishii was the insane hard hitting match we expected. Ishii even flew. He hit a splash on Moxley through a table. The Stone Pitbull flew. Yes I realize there is a callback to Masato Tanaka in that move, but you don’t understand, Ishii flew. Anyway, the beauty of Red Shoes as a referee is he understands each wrestlers personality, so he gives them a little more leash to do what they like to do. Moxley used weapons, Ishii egged it on, there were huge strikes, Ishii’s torpedo style rising headbutts and just good violence. This was a bar fight and no one was upset. Moxley getting the win was a little surprising since most of us assume he won’t be available for many if any later dates once AEW TV starts up. This was just a nice change of pace for the usual New Japan and/or Strong Style match.

 

Overall Score: 7.75/10

With a great Taichi match and Moxley changing the pace, this show was definitely something to behold. Jay White’s continued spiral is more amusing than Sabre’s since this seems like retribution where Sabre is just a punk bitch when he loses. Even with an uneventful undercard, the main Block matches kept everything moving upward and onward.

With Moxley as the sole 3-0, who unseats the Death Rider?

 

B Block Standings:

  • Jon Moxley – 3-0 (6 Points)
  • Toru Yano – 2-1 (4 Points)
  • Tomohiro Ishii – 2-1 (4 Points)
  • Juice Robinson – 2-1 (4 Points)
  • Shingo Takagi – 2-1 (4 Points)
  • Jeff Cobb – 1-2 (2 Points)
  • Tetsuya Naito – 1-2 (2 Points)
  • Hirooki Goto – 1-2 (2 Points)
  • Taichi – 1-2 (2 Points)
  • Jay White – 0-3 (0 Points)


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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