Mustafa Ali recently spoke with Uproxx to promote his appearance on the new season of the “Secret Life of Muslims” webseries. Ali revealed that he didn’t learn of his WWE Fastlane match on Sunday until just over an hour before the match, which saw WWE Champion Daniel Bryan retain over Ali and Kevin Owens in a Triple Threat. Ali said he went into the match thinking people wouldn’t be happy to see him because they wanted to see Kofi Kingston.
“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,” Ali said. “But 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.”
Ali also talked about sometimes getting booed because of his name and where he’s from, when asked if he still encounters situations on the main roster where fans react differently to him because he’s a Muslim.
“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,” Ali said. “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.”
When asked who he would like to get in the ring with one day, Ali initially named two non-WWE wrestlers – Rey Fenix and Jonathan Gresham. He also said his dream matches are happening in WWE with guys like Bryan, Randy Orton and Jeff Hardy. Ali said he’s very happy right now.
“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,” he said. “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.”