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  1. #1

    [KOTC:R1] On My Shoulders

    90.. This is it. Iíve been dreaming about this my entire life. Time to step up to the stage. Time to show the world what Iím made of. This is my moment.

    Wow, I have to catch my breath. I have to breathe, Iím almost there. Slow down, settle down. Just breathe. Iím going to need every single ounce of energy, every last breath, everything I have inside. Itís a long time coming, gotta be a little more patient, wait for the moment. And then itís my time. My time to shine.

    80.. What a number. It doesnít matter to me. Iím not superstitious. This is gonna be about skill and intelligence. I gotta stay grounded, and I gotta use the air smartly. Be aware of space, be aware of the ropes. Keep tossing bodies. Be lethal. Use the entire arsenal. Iím gonna need every weapon. Most importantly, my mind has to be right. I need to stay focused.

    70.. Look at all that talent. Man. This is surreal. I guess I know exactly what Iím getting into. Itís already a jungle out there.

    Shinsuke. The swagger is incredible. Youíre the last winner, so youíre the main target. You got swagger, but you know what? I think I can get in your head. I think I can show you some swagger too. And know one thing: Iím not here to play, Iím here to fight.

    Kofi. I love your pride, the spectacular pride that you bring to the ring. Your agility, your aerial game is impressive. Guess what. Iím bringing an aerial game too. Rumble, young man, rumble.

    Johnny Wrestling. Youíre going a peak level right now, thatís for sure. I know how dangerous you really are. I feel like thereís a singular kind of fight in the future for you and me.

    Kingslayer. Much respect. I can see your righteousness. It will be an honor when we finally do battle. And if we cross paths tonight, itís gonna be epic.

    And Joe. Youíre already out there, huh Joe? Weíll see about redemption. Youíre a monster. But I will not be intimidated by you. In fact, Iím coming for you. You have no idea of the fire inside. Iíll take you on, and Iíll take on whoever comes next. I have to. If youíve been watching, you know that Iím fearless. Iíll take any risk, make any sacrifice, Iím not scared to crash and burn. No other way to fight this, I have to be ready for anything. Thereís no running from danger. I run directly into it.

    60.. Sixteen years of grinding. Thereís nothing to fear. Itís just one more day in the life for this kid from Chicago. On the streets, no one can match what Iíve seen. Iíve protected and served and taken everything that was thrown at me. In 2013 they said no, they passed. At the Tournament they said no, they passed. They never even let me hold the belt. And look whoís here. Look whoís standing right here. Iím still the one who made it.

    We built 205 Live brick by brick, me and my brothers-in-arms. We are the underdogs, we scratched and clawed and became a family. I still fight for them, everyday. And Iím here now because of my heart. I know I have it in me to be the best. But now that I was chosen, I know that Iím responsible. I can only be here for one reason. To win.

    Tonight I stake my claim for WrestleMania. Thatís why Iím winning this, and thatís why Iím coming right after Daniel Bryan.

    He made me believe this was all possible. He showed me that these dreams could be real, that I could overcome any obstacle, any doubt, any fear, to get right here. And when I showed up, and brought it right to the champion. Itís time for me to make him understand. You canít shame people to change, Daniel. You have to inspire people to change. So I want a fight, at WrestleMania. I pinned you once already, and Iíll do it again.

    50.. I have to catch my breath. Have faith. Itís all about to happen, Iím about to face off with these competitors. And how many left to come out? I know I earned this. I earned this with sacrifice and determination. I earned this with pain. There was a time when I was the villain. Iíd be coming out right now with the face of an enemy. I remember what it felt like, and I can still feel the torture inside. Heís not one of us. Heís someone to hate. Heís someone to fear.

    No, thatís not who I am. It never was. But I feel like I had to go through that torture, I had to walk inside that skin, because my life is now a message. Thereís no label you can ever put on me. Not one nationality, not one religion. My role is bigger than that. Iím doing this for millions upon millions, lost souls and diamonds trapped in darkness. Diamonds that just need a chance to shine. In this time, in this world, with these stakes. Iím gonna prove that nothing, and no one, defines you but you.

    40.. Calm down, just calm down. Just be yourself. Well myself, man, I know Iím scared. I donít really know what Iím getting into. You canít talk about fear this much and not feel fear. There will be more eyes on me right now than there have ever been before. Millions around the world. Everything thatís in front of me, itís so unpredictable. How can anyone plan for this? How can anyone anticipate anything? If I fail, I have proven nothing, my message is hollow. What made me think I could take all of this on? I can feel it, right there in my chest. Itís fear and Iím scared and I donít know how I can ever succeed. Itís the fear only I know I have. And it wonít stop intruding right now.

    30.. The eyes do not lie. But I canít let anyone see this fear. I have to keep it deep down in my core. My eyes can tell a different story. Stop it, slow down. I canít do everything at once. I canít be all things for everybody. Who do I really think I am? What gave me the right? Do I really think I can do all of this?

    Stop. Focus on whatís in front of you.

    Thereís a challenge, right now, on this day, right in front of me. Another day in the life. But it all keeps adding up. Itís a lot to carry. Everything adds up, the promises, the pressure, the pain. Sometimes it all feels so... heavy.

    20.. Close your eyes. Just breathe. Open your eyes.

    When that feeling comes up, when that fear starts in my chest, I know where to go. In an instant, it all melts away. Thereís only them. My wife, my daughter, my son. My purpose.

    In my love for my family, you can see my love for the world. And itís all the inspiration I need.

    Thereís no losing when youíre filled with this kind of love. Show the world what the conscience of one man can do. One step at a time, one challenge at a time. Be the change you want to see in the world.

    Itís for everything he is going to grow up to be. Itís for everything she will become, and the millions she will inspire. For the light they are gonna bring to the world, I better shine a pretty bright path.

    10.. So Iíll put it all on my shoulders.

    9.. And Iímma go hard.

    8.. Deep breath.

    7.. Exhale.

    6.. One heart beating for millions.

    5.. No fear, only purpose.

    4.. Love cannot lose.

    3.. Deep breath.

    2.. Exhale.

    1.. Be the light.

    [ÖBUZZER....]

  2. #2
    You know who I am, but you don't know why I'm here
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    First piece of feedback offered in the tournament goes to you, sir. I enjoy your work, by the way, generally.

    I liked this and thought it was a solid use of creative writing, and the running mental dialogue informed the way it was written quite well, though it has given me a challenge in scoring it for "flow," which is one of my favorite judging rubrics when evaluating column writing. Thoughts are by their nature a bit choppy, and that's what you were going for clearly, but I'm not sure that made it any smoother a read. Flow is to the written word what smooth is to wine, and I like a wine that goes down smooth. The choppier the flow, the more the written word becomes to me like a shot of vodka with its associated moment of "Woah"...eventually, I get used to it and it no longer matters much, but it can be jarring in the beginning.

    LOVED the use of the topic and found it to be very engaging as a big fan of both 205 Live and Ali.

  3. #3
    HUGE Member TheLAW's Avatar
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    I thought this was great! Unfortunately, I cannot stand Mustafa Ali. Talented as all hell, but I need people with character and I just cant get behind the underdog thing anymore. Daniel Bryan was my last underdog.

    Killer column and good read tho!

  4. #4
    Hey Doc and Law, thanks the feedback!

    Doc, thanks for pointing out the attention to flow here. I wanted to step out of the comfort zone with this kind of creative piece and the stream of consciousness can definitely end up a bit more choppy. Appreciate knowing you're enjoying the columns so far.

    Thanks for giving this a read Law, one of the best parts of putting this together was doing the research - so much character in Ali to discover.

  5. #5
    Senior Member 205 Clive's Avatar
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    Ali is probably my favourite character in all of WWE this past year or so. I've followed and rooted for him throughout 205 Live and now Smackdown.

    It looks like you have too. I think you've captured his voice well. Thank you.

  6. #6
    It’s really ballsy of you to do a Creative piece when your usually analytical stuff goes over very well. The issue with such a piece is that it’s almost a slice of life type of writing - I adore creative writing, but without a invested interest in Mustafa, it fell kind of flat for me, and rightfully so, I love the writing, just not feeling the character as a personal preference. For those who do like Mustafa, this seem to be a hit, hopefully enough to keep you in this.

  7. #7
    Thanks for the feedback guys!

    205 Clive, really happy to hear you thought I captured Ali's voice - that's high praise coming from you! I started writing this as a big fan and ended up a super-fan.

    JacobWrestleGod, thanks for the comments on the writing, even if you're not an Ali fan I appreciate you taking the time. I enjoyed delving into the creative genre, might experiment with some more in the future.

  8. #8
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    I enjoyed this as I've been a fan of Mustafa Ali since his 205 Live days. I can only imagine what he must have truly been feeling before his entry in the Royal Rumble but I'd imagine you're not too far off.

    Great work. Nice seeing a different side of your work.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
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    Great read here. Begins without referring to the narrator specifically, gives gradual hints early on, and then all but reveals it in the middle. I actually applaud that – many similar columns have done the reveal at the end, which tends to work well too, but I like that you creaked the door open enough in the first half to have the reader do at least part of the initial read “in the know”, so to speak.

    One thing I imagine that may cause an eyebrow or two to raise is the amount of material you put into some of the 10-second increments. Not with me, though. Thoughts are a different beast; what may take 10 seconds to read or speak aloud can essentially be represented with a flash of a thought. So I think you were totally fine in that avenue – in that I don’t find it implausible for the essence of everything you typed out as a thought to be represented accurately in the 10-second span of one’s thinking process. A lot can go through your head!

    I liked how you took one entrant out of 30 – we’ve seen so many Rumbles that plenty are simply numbers at this point – and really dove into the actual pressure and gravitas with which a performer would consider the Royal Rumble. Bit of an eye opener.

    I’ve really got nothing to criticize. The style, wordsmanship, and structure were all done well. I guess, for me, it really comes down to enjoyability. And I did enjoy reading this, no questions about it. But having nothing to really criticize doesn’t necessarily mean that the piece went into the sixth gear, dropped my jaw, or blew me away (which is nothing to scoff at – few columns are that groundbreaking!). And don’t get me wrong – in tournaments in the past, I’ve swung for the fences with attempts to drop jaws, and I completely laid an egg. But hope you get what I’m saying when I reference degree of difficulty – that I might enjoy a TLC II, which has noticeable botches, just as much as a standard Orton vs. Christian match, of which I can’t really criticize anything. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with a standard Orton vs. Christian match.

    Great job, Prof! Nice opening foray into CF tournament lore.

  10. #10
    Member #25 SirSam's Avatar
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    Sorry it has taken me so long to get to this man. It is a little different to your other pieces but you well and truly earned your spot in the next round, even if it is by forfeit.

    I love how you wrote about the respect Ali has for each of the guys, it perfectly mirrors his character, someone who has the confidence in himself to openly recognise the greatness around him without psyching himself out by it all.

    It also got more engaging as it went on and the intensity of his own feelings was mirrored by shorter sentences and more impactful statements.

    Really fun stuff about a wrestler who well and truly merits this kind of character piece.

  11. #11
    The Brain
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    I think you’ve tapped into something pretty deep and cool here. Loved the way it was structured, especially as it got to the end. You really captured the best of Ali’s appeal. Not much to say, I just flat out liked this a whole lot.

  12. #12
    Don, Skul, Sam, and Mizzie, really appreciate knowing you guys like the work so far, I enjoyed stepping out with a creative piece like this.

    Mustafa is doing great character work and I wanted to link his posture of respect to those around him to an internal drive for success and the struggle of taking up for a wide following by making his life into a message. You guys also seem to hit on what I was trying to do structurally with the piece which is really heartening - his thoughts are running through his with increasing rapidity, making the sentences and phrases shorter and a bit more jarring as the clock runs down before he recomposes himself. A lot of the short phrases are stuff he has tweeted out so I wanted to speculate on what depths might be behind them. Thanks so much!

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