wrestling / News

Mustafa Ali Reveals When He Found Out About Fastlane Match, Talks Being Booed

March 13, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
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– Mustafa Ali spoke with Uproxx for a new interview promoting his appearance on the webseries The Secret Life of Muslims and more. Highlights are below:

On his episode of Secret Life of Muslims: “The thing with WWE is that I’m portraying a character that’s involved in a storyline that involves everybody else too, so it’s not really about me. But Secret Life is about the man behind Mustafa Ali, you know? The prejudice, the discrimination, and the preconceived ideas that I had to battle while chasing my dream. What my hope is, is that people see that I’m more than just a Muslim. The whole idea of Secret Life of Muslims is that we’re just ordinary people. We’re your neighbors, we’re your coworkers, we like coffee, you know? We’re everyday normal people with hopes and aspirations and fears. We have feelings; we have emotions. The idea is to just somehow be a little more relatable to someone who might not be as open to talking to a Muslim.”

On if he encounters fans who react differently to him because of his faith: “You know, with that it’s almost difficult to say, because there’s some times, being new, or not being an established character yet on WWE, because I’m still relatively new, you don’t know exactly what the fans’ reaction is going to be. I’ve had nights where it’s very obvious that I’m the good guy but I’m still booed, and you can kind of make a checklist about reasons why they’re booing me, and one of the evident ones is because of my name and where I’m from. Especially in the earlier years with WWE — because I’ve been with the company for about two and half years now — but people would see the name Mustafa Ali, and they hadn’t even seen me, just the name Mustafa Ali, and it elicited a negative reaction. And to me that was just years of how the media portrayed people of that demographic, it was always as bad guys. So I think people booed, and then they got confused when they saw this really happy babyface guy coming out, slapping hands and kissing babies, and then they still booed, but then they see me wrestle and they think ‘Oh, this guy can do some pretty spectacular stuff,’ and then they see a guy with an immense amount of heart that will lay it all out in the ring each night, and slowly but surely I feel like they’re finally seeing Mustafa Ali for what he is, and who he is.”

On when he knew he would be in the WWE Championship match at Fastlane: “I would say I was told about an hour and a half, maybe, before that match went on. So the pay-per-view had started, and I still didn’t know that I was competing in that match. So yeah, talk about getting ready really quickly and having your mind in a whirl. Watching the show, I kind of went in expecting more of what’s happening with Kofi — and I’ve got all the love and respect in the world for Kofi Kingston — but I knew what I was going up against coming out that night. Obviously it’s one thing to get thrown into a championship match last minute, but we always have to stay ready. And I was ready, I went out and gave it everything I had.”

On the reaction from the crowd: “I knew as soon as I walked out, they were not going to be happy to see me, because they wanted to see Kofi right now. And that’s been the story of my entire life! People have a negative reaction towards me, I get put in a really tough spot, I get thrown into a really dark spot, but somehow some way, my light will shine. Somehow I still can overcome. And at the end of the day, yeah I walked out to boos, but when I walked out of that arena, they were cheering.”

On his ring gear: “The entrance attire is completely inspired from the saying ‘Be the light.’ And what ‘Be the light’ means is exactly that. Despite these negative thoughts about me, and people say terrible things, but you can always respond in a peaceful, positive manner. Like someone on twitter will make a comment about my wife wearing a hijab, and I’ll politely educate them, like I’ll go ‘Despite your insult, this is the actual reason why she wears it, and she chooses to wear it.’ So I try to set that example of being the light. No matter what darkness comes at you, you respond with light. So I thought, how do I become the physical embodiment? How do I represent that? And that’s what you’re seeing now, with the very superhero-esque entrance. I want to be the physical embodiment of light, you know? And I feel like now people know, when they see the lights go off and this light-up figure appear on stage, they know that’s Mustafa Ali.”

On the transition from 205 Live to Smackdown: “I feel like a recurring theme in my life on the Main Roster is being the last to know everything. Just like the Fastlane championship match I didn’t know about until right before, it was the same with the Smackdown Live thing. I didn’t know about it at all. The first match I had, while I was still on 205 Live, I was wrestling Daniel Bryan on Smackdown, and I was not a member of the Smackdown Live roster. I was told specifically before I went out there, ‘hey, we just want you to know this is a on-time thing, it’s a good opportunity for you, but it’s 100% just a one-time thing.’ And I said ‘okay, sure, I appreciate the opportunity.’ So we went out there and we killed it, and that 100% one-time thing turned into the following week I came and they were like ‘we’re moving you full-time to Smackdown now.’ So no, I didn’t know it was coming until the day of. And yeah, obviously the transition’s been wild. There’s a level of exposure that Smackdown and Raw get that other brands like NXT, NXT UK, and 205 Live do not get. But at the same time, I feel like I would not be who I am without 205 Live. 205 Live — I talked about being put in tough spots, it’s the toughest spot. It’s the toughest spot in the industry, in my mind, to wrestle in 205 Live. It’s the hardest-working show, because of the spot these guys get put in. So I’m very very grateful for my time in 205 Live. I will always rep 205 Live.”

On which talent he’d love to face: “I would love to wrestle a guy by the name of Rey Fenix, he’s a phenomenal performer. I got to wrestle him one time on the independent scene, but I believe we both have grown as performers, and if we were to cross paths again it would be something amazing. I’m a fan of all sorts, and I’ve been very fortunate to wrestle most of the guys that I always wanted to. Jonathan Gresham is another outstanding technical-based wrestler, and I got to tie up with him one time as well, and it’s the same story where I feel like we’ve both grown as performers, and we’d absolutely kill it if we had another opportunity. But right now, where I’m at, I’m wrestling some of the biggest names in our industry. I’m locking up with guys like Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan and Jeff Hardy, so I’m very very happy right now. All my dream matches are slowly but surely happening, but who knows who’s next? Whoever it is, I really feel like I’m hitting my stride right now. The confidence is there, and my skills are only sharpening. So whoever’s next will get the best version of Mustafa Ali.”