It's getting tense out there.
It is and it isn't a good time to be a wrestling fan.
The best of the Japanese scene transcends the clap crowd atmospheres. DDT and STARDOM in particular are drawing raves. The market leader, however - NJPW - is descending into familiar, drab booking patterns and, in the case of House of Torture, a nonsensical pursuit of heat in venues in which noise is literally forbidden.
WWE is impervious to change, and the same old story continues to loop: X disillusioned, hard-grafting talent with strong online support isn't perceived with any degree of importance by management. This low-flying frustration is bleeding into AEW, too; the promotion is full, so much so that TV time is scarce and the novelty of creative freedom is fading, since the outlet itself has narrowed. Impact is Impact, ROH is or isn't ROH anymore. The modern pro wrestler is bereft of viable options. They can't up and leave - literally, in the case of one man who appears on this list - so their frustrations are left to simmer and mutate into outright, visible dejection.
It's not just getting tense in the backstage area...
8. Mustafa Ali
The #FreeAli hashtag continues to trend in what is a developing story.
Mustafa Ali has requested his release from WWE stemming from Fightful Select's recent report that Vince McMahon pitched him an idea that "Mustafa Ali never would have done". Those dots aren't especially difficult to connect. Ali is on record stating that he refuses to portray a foreign menace caricature for the purpose of cheap heat. It should also be stated that WWE is actually all kinds of bad, not just one, so the pitch could just as easily be Ali playing a train conductor with a daft hat and a baton or some sh*t.
Regardless, Ali refused to go along with whatever it was and is sitting out in Neville-esque stasis. WWE has thus far refused to grant his request, which was a bullsh*t move all along that reeks all the more now that they'll release all but around seven independent contractors.
Ali, knowing that he's worth more - and he is - has taken to Twitter and publicly blocked the WWE on FOX Twitter account in, sigh, retribution for their blocking of his outspoken supporters.
This latest activity follows the barely-suppressed contempt he displays for the organisation whenever he is allowed a live mic on shows Vince probably doesn't even know exist.
Ali's complaints are more profound than the usual stuck-in-catering fare, which is likely why he he can't obscure them.