Ahead of Night of Champions and a clash with GUNTHER over the Intercontinental Championship, Mustafa Ali opens up about his legacy, Paul Heyman labelling him a “disruptor”, and more.
We started by asking Mustafa Ali about his legacy and how he sees his WWE career since joining the main roster after the cancellation of WWE’s 205 Live program, a show that focused on the company’s cruiserweight division. Mustafa became the WWE Cruiserweight Champion while working on that brand, but hasn’t held a championship title since. He told us:
“I’ve been with the company since 2016 and I’m yet to capture a [main roster] championship. I’ve been calling for it, the fans have been calling for it, and at Night of Champions I can make that a reality. Initially, I took things personally when things didn’t work out. I wanted to be this or I wanted to be that, and from a business standpoint, those decisions were made to not go that route and you take it personally. It’s not an ego thing, it’s just that you’re passionate about it and you know you’d kill it.
“You can take it to the next level, not just for you but for the company. At the end of the day, you’re looking to grow, so when that gets stopped there’s frustration that comes with it. There’s anger. Again, it all stems from passion. I’m a passionate guy, I love what I do and I want to do more of it.
I think my real legacy is I’m a disruptor. I’m the guy that came in who wasn’t supposed to be there. You’ve never seen a guy that looks like me. You’ve never seen a guy who looks like me then be put into different positions like that before. One of the greatest of all time, Paul Heyman, he dubbed me ‘The Disruptor’ and said something else that was so incredible that I really took it to heart.
Paul said, ‘Disruptors often don’t benefit from the disruption, it’s the people who come after them’. So I said, that’s my legacy and I’m going to be the guy who paved the road, I’m going to be the guy who opened the door, I’m going to be the guy who knocked down the wall. I may not be a champion, I may not go down as a GOAT, but I’m creating the road for anyone who has a name like Mustafa coming up behind me.”
As Mustafa Ali has one of the biggest matches of his WWE career – on one of the largest stages – against GUNTHER at Night of Champions in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, we asked him, win or lose, what does the future look like Mustafa Ali? He said:
“I think the next chapter is telling the real story. I think In WWE I’ve been trying to find my way, I mean everyone knows me as this passionate performer and storyteller, and when you’re coming from 205 Live, some people have this assumption that you’re all about moves – where I’m all about stories. I’m craving to tell a good story. People sometimes poke fun at me changing characters every year but if something’s not working, and I’m not able to tell a story, I’m going to move on to the next thing.
“So my big objective is, I want to wow the world, I want to tell this incredible, passionate story that’s mixed with performance and emotions, with everything that makes WWE and sports entertainment great. That’s my goal and I think that’s the next chapter.”
Finally, we asked Ali what his message would be to the fans who continue to support him and WWE during this historic time?
“My message would be that Mustafa Ali is a man of the people, not just his people. When I was growing up watching WWE I loved everything about it, but I never saw anybody who looked like me, and when I did and even in movies, it was always a negative, stereotypical portrayal.
“So fast-forward to now, I hope I get to be that to kids watching across the world. And I mean that for anybody who’s ever felt like their name or where they’re from has defined them or prevented them from doing something. If I can be their guy, then I’m humbled and all the bumps and bruises will be all worth it. Hold on a little longer, we’re going to make it.”
WWE Night of Champions airs LIVE in the UK at 6pm BST on Saturday, May 27th on WWE Network