Mustafa Ali recently appeared on the State of Combat podcast from CBS Sports to promote his appearance on the “Secret Life of Muslims” webseries.
Ali talked about how he was brought to WWE 205 Live and that’s when he started to gain the attention of WWE producers with how hard he worked and how he complemented the various in-ring styles of opponents. Ali would relentlessly tell WWE producers that he could talk as good as he could wrestle. He finally started shooting his own gritty outdoor promos and WWE took notice as he posted them to social media. Ali said that dedication resonated with everyone.
“Sometimes you have to create your own chance,” Ali said. “These promos I was filming, I shot them and had them filmed in a very specific way to make them look different than everybody else. No one was doing these stylized vignettes, which is what we call them now, but me. We shot them the wee hours of the morning. If I wanted to talk about rising to your feet again, we made sure to film it at 5 a.m. with the sun coming up. When they see that dedication and see that you are being so intricate about all the small details, it resonates.”
Ali revealed that one person who took notice was WWE Champion Daniel Bryan, who went to bat for Ali with WWE officials in regards to giving him a main roster spot. Ali revealed that he was once again met with the challenge of how his character would be presented when he met with 2019 WWE Hall of Famer “Road Dogg” BG James, who is one of the SmackDown producers.
“When I first came on to 205 Live, I was cast as a bad guy and [James] and I had a serious discussion about why do I have to be a bad guy?” Ali said. “Why can’t I be the first openly Muslim guy with a Muslim name, who looks like a Muslim? Why can’t I be a good guy? I have this amazing move set, why are we going to throw this away? It was Brian who took this leap of faith and said, ‘We are going to try.’ I have to thank ‘Road Dogg’ so much.”
Just days removed from a WWE Title match at the Fastlane pay-per-view, which saw Bryan retain over Ali and Kevin Owens, Ali said he’s getting goosebumps realizing where he’s at in his career.
“I’m kind of getting goose bumps right now realizing where I’m at right now. I wouldn’t have believed this, not even years ago, but months ago that this would happen,” Ali said. “I’ve always had faith in my ring ability, but sometimes it’s how you are perceived and how good you are doesn’t matter. It’s kind of like this refreshing, deep and philosophic take that hard work still pays off. This is such a crazy ride. I just competed for the WWE championship on the pay-per-view.
“There is plenty of misconceptions and opinions out there. What I want to do is strip away all the notions and all the preconceived ideas. I want people to know there is no difference between you and I. We are all the same and we all bleed the same blood. We all have the same soul and same organs. My message to everyone is that we truly are one and the minute you see me as the person, not just as the Muslim — when you see me as Adeel Alam and not just the character on TV — when you see past all of that, we are all the same and we are all just one. That’s my message, that’s my goal and that’s my motto.”