wrestling / News

Mustafa Ali on Hiding His Background When He Started His Career, Why He Spreads His Message of Being the ‘Light in the Dark’

January 19, 2020 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Mustafa Ali WWE

NBC 14 News recently interviewed WWE Superstar Mustafa Ali, who discussed joining WWE and more. Below are some highlights.

Ali on chasing his dream: “I’ve been chasing this dream of mine for almost 17 years now. I started when I was 16 years old, just some punk in high school that loved it. I’ve watched it again since I was a child. I idolized Jeff Hardy, Rey Mysterio, Bret The Hitman Hart, Shawn Michaels. So, it’s really, really awesome all these years later that I’m sharing the ring with a guy like Rey Mysterio. So, I’ve been on this chase for a very, very long time.”

Ali on how he joined WWE: “The Cruiserweight Classic in 2016 changed many, many people’s lives. It’s one of the brain childs of Triple H, and it changed my life. It was me reaching out again after a failed tryout in 2013. I went there with my heart and soul, and it wasn’t enough. I was declined, I was told no. They said, ‘We’re not looking to hire you. Three years later, the Cruiserweight Classic comes calling, and I thought I was in the tournament. That’s how it was presented to me. They said, ‘You’re in this tournament. It’s a big tournament.’ Tournament time comes, and they announce the participants. I’m not on the list. So, I frantically call. I say, ‘Hey, what’s going on?!’ ‘You’re an alternate. You’re just a backup. So, someone gets hurt, someone doesn’t show up, if there’s visa issues, then maybe you’ll compete.’ ‘So how many alternates are there?’ There’s 10! 10 alternates. So, I had a one in 10 out of 30 chances to make it, and i got a chance.”

Mustafa Ali on the benefits of social media: “Anytime you have the opportunity to perform in a WWE ring, it’s one thing. But what’s really cool even about social media is people are learning the man or the woman behind the superstar. I think my following, my fanbase, they’ve realized what the message is behind all this; why I compete, why I fight with all my heart, why I say the things that I say, why I respond to certain internet trolls the way I do. And my whole philosophy, my message, is ‘Be the light in the dark.’ There’s plenty of dark times around us. There’s plenty of dark moments around us, but it’s on to us as a society, as people, as human begins to be that light. I think that’s what has people flock towards me. It’s kind of a relief because even if you watch WWE programming, a lot of people are elevated by tearing people down. That’s the way they elevate themselves, by ripping someone down. I’m not about that. So I think it’s kind of a fresh new way… and to me, that’s the way I live my entire life, but at least for the WWE perspective, the audience perspective, it’s something new. It’s something calm.”

Mustafa Ali on being told he would have to be a bad guy because of his background: “When I first started out, when I was 16 years old, I had a very, very real life moment hit me right in the face. Again, I’m just this fan. I’m this naive kid, and I was like, ‘I’m gonna jump off the top rope,’ and this and that. And the first real decision I had to make is that, ‘Hey, because of your background, you’re going to have to be a bad guy. You look a certain way, so the fans will never cheer you.’ And I go, ‘No! I’m gonna be the Rey Mysterio.’ And they go, ‘No. You can’t. So, I had to face a very serious issue at the age of 16. Like, ‘Hey. Do you chase your dream and sell out yourself, or what do you do?’ So my solution was, I actually wore a luchador mask when I first started out to hide the fact that I was Muslim, to hide the fact that I was Pakistani and Indian. I had to hide that. Now, I get to stand on national television on Smackdown, proudly say my name, and people chant ‘Ali.’ It’s come full circle.”

Ali on changing the perception that he has to be a certain way as a wrestler: “It’s 2020, man. Look at the different conversations we’re having in 2000 from people from different sexual orientations, from different backgrounds, from different ethnicities. We, as a people, are advancing. It sucks that it’s taken so long for us to advance and become normal realize that there are no differences between you and I, but we are getting there. And I fully believe there are more good than there are evil. So eventually, good will win.”

If using the above quotes, please credit News 14, with a h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.