SmackDown star Mustafa Ali announced on Twitter earlier today (January 16) that he had requested his release from WWE. He has not featured on WWE television in two months.
Fightful Select (subscription required) has provided more details on Ali’s absence. It was previously reported that Ali had asked for paternity leave last year, which was only for one show. Ali also was not present at Survivor Series or the SmackDown prior to his paternity leave.
Fightful notes that Ali has not been present at SmackDown since then, with one source noting that they were surprised that he was not featured on the SmackDown show in Chicago in any capacity, as that is his hometown. Ali has been available for a return since the first week of December.
A few weeks ago, Ali shared a vignette that was filmed for a ‘New America’ gimmick, which never came to fruition. According to those in the know, the character was initially accepted, before those in power in WWE changed their mind. Fightful says that in its place, there was a pitch from Vince McMahon for ‘something Mustafa Ali would never have done’, which led to a heated argument between Ali and McMahon. Ali hasn’t been backstage or on the show since.
A WWE higher up told Fightful that they have granted release requests as of late as it would be difficult to justify not granting requests after they’ve released so many names over the last year.
One SmackDown wrestler told Fightful that for someone who works on his craft as much as Ali does, not having anything for him or featuring him at all was seen as a punishment. Ali was well liked within WWE, and numerous talents have mentioned to Fightful about their desire to work with him since he was initially called up to SmackDown, which was only supposed to be a one-off.
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