Mustafa Ali is one of the more surprising success stories of WWE in the past few years. Bursting onto SmackDown Live following a stint on 205 Live, he’s quickly established himself as a potential main eventer.
Speaking to Sports Illustrated, the former heart of 205 Live explained that it’s not always been easy to be the blue-eyed babyface he is now.
As a Muslim and wrestler of Pakistani descent, he highlighted the difficulty of overcoming stereotypes within a world of characters and kayfabe.
“I was that 16-year-old who loved WWE and I wanted to be a pro wrestler, but I didn’t understand why I had to be the bad guy,” “I wanted to be like Jeff Hardy, I wanted to be like Rey Mysterio, but I was told I had to be the guy who screamed terrible things about America and attack people from behind.
“I want the next 16-year-old kid who looks like me to know he’s not automatically the bad guy. Hopefully that kid can look at Mustafa Ali and say, ‘Hey, he’s not the bad guy, and I don’t have to be, either.’ Everyone in the world, regardless if they’re Muslim or not, does not have to adhere to the label society slaps on you. No one defines you but you, and that’s what I’m fighting for.”
It’s fair to say that he had good reason to be worried. If you look back at the way WWE treated the likes of Mohamed Hassan, you can see why Ali may have been a bit scared he would have been put into a similar role.