During a recent edition of the “After the Bell With Corey Graves” podcast, Mustafa Ali commented on nearly quitting wrestling before joining WWE, getting into the Cruiserweight Classic, and more. You can check out some highlights from the podcast below:
On almost quitting wrestling before the Cruiserweight Classic: “The Cruiserweight Classic was a tumultuous thing for me. It was that typical indie wrestler moment that we’ve all, anyone that’s you know, done this can understand. I thought this was the year that I’m going to hang up the boots, or the kick pads, or whatever you want to call them because I wasn’t getting any traction. A lot of my friends were blowing up on the indie scene. And like you mentioned, I was a police officer at the time. So traveling all over the world, doing these tours in the UK and Japan just [wasn’t] feasible. The number one thing for me at that time was providing for my family, as a man should. So my dream came second.”
On getting into the Cruiserweight Classic: “Luckily, I just emailed WWE at the right time or the right place, not knowing that there was a Cruiserweight Classic. At the time it was called the Global Cruiserweight Tournament, or something like that. So I just emailed at the right time and the right place. And they said, ‘Yeah, we’ve got a spot for you.’ And then William Regal called and explained to me the whole process, and I was like, ‘This is my opportunity. I’m in!’”
On finding out he was an alternate: “And a few weeks before the tournament, they released the list of the 32 participants in the Cruiserweight Classic. And my name’s not on the list. And everything just comes crumbling down. I told my wife, I told my friends. I frantically call and say, ‘What happened?’ And it was then explained to me that I’m not actually in the tournament; I’m a backup. I’m an alternate. So I’m like, ‘Well, how many alternates are there?’ ‘Ten.’ So now — and again, I don’t have no chance, I’m a nobody at this point. I have not traveled the world, I’m not this world-class athlete like so many of the participants.
“And it was just a hard pill to swallow, man. I had a lot of stuff going on personally … and I had to make a decision, ‘Do I still get on this plane and go, and kind of swallow my pride and stand there like a good boy and hope to be called on?’ And I said, ‘You’re always gonna ask yourself what if. Just go.’ And I went. And there was an opening, Lince Dorado’s opponent wasn’t able to compete. And Lince and I are old friends that have competed a lot. And I owe the world to him, because he immediately stepped up and said, ‘Give me Ali.’ And they reminded him that the segment that our match was, the timeslot was very very small. And he said, ‘Yeah, that’s why I want him. Because I know we can get it done.’”
(h/t – 411 Wrestling)