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  1. #1
    Senior Member 205 Clive's Avatar
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    [KOTC Final] Be The Light

    [KOTC Final] Be The Light

    Imposter syndrome is a state which I have begun to resonate with more and more as this King of The Columnists tournament has progressed. By hook or by crook, I now find myself in the competition's final and, despite indeed having at least some talent worthy of praise, this lofty height still feels uncomfortable. Unwarranted, even. Furthermore, when I see who faces me in the opposite corner of the ring, that feeling is amplified.

    Nevertheless, the ultimate goal is now in sight, a goal to become the champion of a craft where both writers are most comfortable when fully immersed in WWE's fictional universe. The task at hand for me then becomes how to beat my opponent at his own game, one that he has played so well for so long. Fighting a long burning fire with a similarly inclined yet younger flame may be applauded for its efforts, when all is said and done. However, the word “pretender” would still ring out in my head at every turn, casting doubt over every word I write.

    Linguistic prowess aside, perhaps one of the reasons for this mindset comes from the material with which we traditionally paint our respective canvases, and the differing volumes of appreciation each receive. Waxing lyrically, for example, in tribute to a stable of characters in The Shield, whose journey has affected millions, versus a defender of a modest band of cruiserweights, whose idolisation is undoubtedly far less reaching. Is it any wonder, then, that such a mentality of not belonging exists?

    As luck would have it, the disinterest with which 205 Live and its humble cast have often and unfairly been regarded spawned the crux of my entry. More specifically, the idea of that same imposter syndrome being potentially experienced, and sought to be overcome, by a particular individual now on Smackdown Live.

    To tackle such a job, pitted against a man so at home in storytelling mode, I had to stoke my own flame in immersing myself that one level further. Transferring my emotions into the voice of a wrestler who may share at least some of the same sentiment, by way of the following imagined “promo”, felt the most natural to me. A wrestler, I might add, who arguably battles adversity head on better than anyone else. A wrestler who has the same goal as that of the recipient he addresses, but approaches it with a different set of tools.

    If this caveat has come across as unnecessary and self indulgent, then what’s done is done. This tournament has conjured within me a spell of significant reflection and, as a result, I approach this final task wearing my heart on my sleeve. After all, it is something my chosen voice has done since the start of his 205 Live career….

    ***

    “... As you all know, I had to take some time off a few weeks back. Obviously, I wasn't exactly thrilled with what WWE's doctors had to tell me. That forced break meant I couldn't be a part of something special. The Gauntlet match. The Elimination Chamber. The chance, slim though it may have been, to become the WWE Champion. Not just a champion of this company, but one that people can relate to and be proud of. Missing out on such a possibility was a real blow. But I understand why. Those bumps and bruises? They stacked up a little too quickly and, to be honest, the medical staff were probably right to put me on the bench for a while.

    “That physicality, though, that was just superficial. What buried itself deep under my skin the most was that I was treated like fair game. Samoa Joe. Randy Orton. Rowan. The ‘New’ Daniel Bryan. They all saw fit to come for me like a pack of feral dogs. Daniel, specifically, who started this ball rolling, because I apparently didn't conform to his ideals. Daniel, the man who claims to deliver a message that will make the world a better place. But all that didn’t matter to me at the time. Whether or not it was just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, shots were fired. I took a hit and went down. But I want you to know, Daniel, that I got back up. I dusted myself off, and I came back to deliver a message of my own. One that says the world can be better place, but not how you're going about it. Shots have been fired, and I'm gonna fire some right back.

    “First, I need to tell you what was going through my head when I was home. I had a lot of time to reflect. One of the questions I kept asking myself was why? Why did you all see fit to kick that target on my back? A target that you, Daniel, tarred me with when I first arrived on Smackdown Live. Because I didn't buy what you said, that it was my supposed excess or ignorance that was the issue. That was just one of the many excuses you've used to throw your hate around all this time. Still, I wondered what I’d done wrong, and that led me down some dark paths. Paths I thought I’d left behind. It made me question whether or not I belonged here. Me, Mustafa Ali, that guy from 205 Live, coming on over to Smackdown as the small fish in a big pond. Because of you, Daniel, I felt like an imposter.

    “But you see, this isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve been dealing with imposter syndrome for a long time, since well before I ever stepped foot in a WWE ring. In the classrooms and playgrounds. When the very soil I grew up on, just like you, was attacked. When protecting the streets for Chicago P.D. Even early in my wrestling career, where I was physically threatened solely because of the colour of my skin. I’ve been looked upon as an outsider my whole life, Daniel. I’ve experienced bullies like you time and again, and I’m not afraid anymore. I will not back down. I will not give in to people like you any longer. What sort of message would that be to give to the people that do struggle in life, to be so afraid that they can't face those who cover the world in darkness?

    “What if my little girl sees the bruises on my face and asks, ‘Baba, why did the bad man hurt you?’, and I don't have an answer? Am I supposed to tell her there are people out there who get to punish others purely because of the choices they've made? Am I supposed to say that evil triumphs? Because that's going to make her more afraid. That's going to make her scared that there's no hope left in the world. That fills me with a guilt I never thought possible. Guilt over my family thinking I can't defend myself. Guilt over whether they even feel safe. And then, to top it all off, guilt at having to go back on the road, giving up the chance to spend more time with my daughter when all she can think is that she’s going to miss her dad all over again. That if I go back to work, she's not safe anymore.

    “Daniel, is this the message you want to give to our families? Is fear what you want to pass on to the next generation? Is this the legacy you want to leave behind for your children? That's what I explained to my daughter. I told her that you don't have to live in fear, that you can be safe once you open that front door. I told her I had to go back to work to show her that there hope still exists in this world, and that she, and everybody else just like her, knows that evil won’t win in the end.

    “There may be some truth to what you’re saying, Daniel, but your message is cloaked in so much shadow, the people you’re talking to can’t even see it. You’ve locked them in a room with no light, and they’re fumbling around in the dark, wondering how to break free from their shackles. Well I’m gonna help them. I choose to be their guide. I vow to be their voice.

    “You call us fickle, but is it wrong of us to change who we are today so we can be a better person than we were the day before? Isn't that what you want us to be? You can’t even see that and yet, somehow, we’re the ignorant ones. You say we as a people aren’t educated. Then you'll know what Plato taught us, that we can easily forgive a child who’s scared of the dark, but the real tragedy is when men are afraid of the light. That's you, Daniel. You're the one who's afraid. You're the weak one, even when you call us impotent. You may have stripped some of us of our life force, but not me, Daniel. Not today, not ever. I overcome my boundaries and I make my own destiny, night by night, brick by brick, and I will use that strength to empower the voiceless to rise up as one, and knock you from your poisoned perch.

    “You call on us to change. Well, believe me when I say I will. I've changed perceptions outside of these walls my whole life. I've changed the idea that people like me have no heart, in the ring and out. I've challenged beliefs, for good, all the way along this road that I travel. Now, you're on that same road. Now that I see you up close, I can see in your eyes the real reason you came at me all those weeks ago. Fear. Regardless of what you say out loud, I do belong. Deep down, you know that too, and you see that as a threat and it terrifies you. But it's not a threat. It’s a promise. I promise I will come for you, Daniel. I will go to war with you and erase your shadow from the face of the earth. I will go to war with a fire in my heart so bright, so powerful, the darkness you hold on to will be destroyed, with no chance of it ever returning, and I will finish you off, once and for all.”

  2. #2
    Member #25 SirSam's Avatar
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    Clive it has been awesome to see you make your way through this tournament, it hard to call it a complete upset as we all saw you come here in 2017, work your way up to the main page and we know your skills. However when we all sized each other up at the start of the tournament I think it is fair to say you weren't an absolute top favourite, that is by no means meant as an insult more that you may have been looked past in favour of other more well known names. It has been so awesome to see you really cut loose through this and show us all just how good you are.

    This just continued that, we both love Ali as a wrestler and as a person, there is just so much to respect about that guy and his journey. This so perfectly captured him and also captured his inspiring voice. This is a guy who live and breathes his mission on earth and gives everything he can to it. In particular I loved your final paragraph too so much fire.

    This column also shows that while the Kofi feud is fun, the Ali feud is the true ultimate Bryan feud for how well their ideologies clash. Summer Slam maybe?



    @Sir_Samuel

  3. #3
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    The opening to your column felt wonderfully genuine, boldly vulnerable, and actually struck a great point especially with the Shield/cruiserweights comparison. And it was tremendously written to boot. And honestly, I think you’ve put yourself on the map in this tournament to such a degree that hopefully that sense of impostor feeling is lessened significantly, because it ought to be!

    The Mustafa Ali section was good, but I think fell short of great. I honestly think you might have been better off with the continued first person monologue by Clive, mixing in the comparisons to Mustafa Ali and Daniel Bryan, rather than the projected dialogue.

    There were some great parts to the Ali dialogue; don’t get me wrong. Most attackers of the Daniel Bryan character call out his hypocrisy given what he has previously represented. But I liked how you actually attacked his argument – specifically the “fickle” part. Is changing an opinion after seeing and hearing new arguments axiomatically a negative? Is it fickle, or open-minded? I’ve never been a Daniel Bryan fan, but the key when discrediting what his character is saying is to discredit the message itself, and not where it’s coming from. Bravo on that part.

    I noticed one tiny error – it came in the following sentence: “One that says the world can be (a) better place, but not how you're going about it.” Missed an article, and like I said in ‘Plan’s column, it’s such a small thing that can slip through even the most scrutinizing of proofreads – I know from personal experience! And it was a miss mirrored by your competitor! Small thing, but I figured my last time for a while wearing the judicial hat…

    I thought your tie to the topic was a touch tenuous. You explained it in the opening, but not in the Ali/Bryan section did I get a firm sense of genuine “fighting fire with fire”.

    Overall, nice work here, Clive. Hell of a tournament. Best of luck in the final result.

  4. #4
    Again, I am not invest in Ali enough to feel the power of the promo at the end, but the front part is good. all the best.

  5. #5
    LOP's part time glass ceiling DynamiteBillington's Avatar
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    The trouble I find with Ali, is that as far as I'm concerned he's someone who appeared from out of nowhere into the main event. I haven't bought into him yet.

    I realise that's fairly unique to me. I only watch the PPVs these days, so haven't seen any of his work on either 205 Live or Smackdown. He may have had the odd cruiserweight match on a PPV in the past that wasn't relegated to the pre-show, but I don't remember it.

    Even if it is just me being out of touch, for that reason I buy into the Kofi story more than I would have with Ali.

    Unfortunately, that also means I bought into your competition's column more than yours. Despite that, this was a decent column and I'm not a judge so my inability to connect with the column doesn't matter.

  6. #6
    The Brain
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    I really like that you went back to a very central guy to your fandom and your LOP career, your passion for 205 Live and the underlooked wrestlers of the WWE has always been one of the things I like most about you Clive. I like what Ali represents and how you contexualized that, and I especially liked the imposter syndrome stuff at the beginning. That was the part of the column I felt really knocked it out of the park, even though I did think you tried a bit hard to fight fire with fire (as Plan might say) by throwing in some really flowering language. I did think the column lost me a little when you segued into Ali's imagined promo, but you threw some nice stuff in there as well. Best of luck Clive, very interested to see how this comes out.

  7. #7
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    I'm very pleased you decided to go with something a little more personal to your own fandom, for the final. Whenever you write something in a tournament, you have to leave the reader with a lasting impression and this did it for me. I've been following 205Live since after the CWC, and I've always liked a good underdog story (or division).

    I don't follow many professional sports for the only reason that I can not stand when I see a professional do half of his job, not give his best all the damn time. When the heart isn't in there, it is sooo distracting for me that I'll end up criticizing instead of enjoying what I am watching.

    Some well rounded wrestler took the path through 205Live but none has been as successful as Ali on the main roster. I have no problem imagining him cutting that exact promo. That lingering feeling of not belonging is one of the worst humans can feel. I have really discovered your creative writing in this tournament!

  8. #8
    Love that Ali got double-love in this tournament. I became a super-fan after putting my own column together, and your passion for his character shines through this piece as well. It's been great getting to read your work throughout the tournament, I thought all your columns were composed with great care and thoughtfulness, attentive to both the writing and the wrestling. Best of luck!

  9. #9
    You know who I am, but you don't know why I'm here
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    Excellent column in some ways, and in others not so much. I felt the passion and I thought the topic was engaging. The first half I thought gelled well with the second half, and being a big Ali fan, I appreciated the sentiment. That said, I just don't like it when a column starts off discussing why it was written; I never have and it's hard for me to let that go. I don't think it adds much if anything to what you're trying to achieve. I also am not a fan of trying to capture a wrestler's voice as the bulk of a column and there were a few grammatical errors that caught my attention, so this was a column destined to fall a bit short with yours truly, particularly given your competition. That said, I thought you did a really nice job with what you decided to do, so much credit for making it all work well.
    Author of The WrestleMania Era book series, author of The Doctor's Orders columns on LOP since 2010, LOP Columns Hall of Famer, former host of The Doc Says podcast on LOP Radio (2013-2018), former LOP Raw and WWE PPV Reviewer (2006-2007), and former LOP Smackdown Reviewer (2004-2006)

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