LAS VEGAS — 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.