During an appearance on the After The Bell podcast, RETRIBUTION leader Mustafa Ali opened up to SmackDown commentator Corey Graves about his debut for WWE in the 2016 Cruiserweight Classic.
For those that don’t know, Mustafa Ali wasn’t originally selected for the tournament and was just an alternative. However, when Lince Dorado’s scheduled opponent wasn’t able to complete, he requested to face the former 205 Live star:
“Luckily, I just emailed WWE at the right time at the right place not knowing that there was a Cruiserweight Classic,” Ali admitted. “At the time, it was called ‘The Global Cruiserweight Tournament.’ So I just emailed at the right time at the right place, and they said, ‘yeah, we’ve got a spot for you.’ William Regal called and explained to me the whole process, and I was like, ‘this is my this is my opportunity. I’m in,’ and a few weeks before the the tournament, they released the list of the 32 participants in the Cruiserweight Classic.
“And my name’s not on the list, and everything just comes crumbling down. I told my wife. I told my friends. I frantically call, and I go, ‘what happened?’ It was then explained to me that I’m not actually in the tournament. I’m a backup. I’m an alternate, and I said, ‘well, how many alternates are there?’ 10. And again, I have no shame. I’m a nobody at this point. I have not traveled the world. I’m not this world-class athlete like so many of the participants, and it was just a hard pill to swallow.
“A lot of stuff was going on personally as we always have going on, and I had to make a decision. Do I still get on this plane and go and kind of swallow my pride and stand there like a good boy and hope to be called on, and I said, ‘you’re always going to ask yourself, what if? Just go’ and I went.
“There was an opening. Lince Dorado’s opponent wasn’t able to compete, and Lince and I are old friends that have competed. I owe the world to him because he immediately stepped up and said, ‘give me Ali.’ They reminded him that the segment that our match was, the time slot was very very small, and he like, ‘yeah, that’s why I want him because I know he can get it done’ and we went out there, and I think we tore it up. I mean, obviously, I’m here now, but they cracked the door open a little bit, and I kicked the damn thing down.”
Mustafa Ali moved from 205 Live to SmackDown at the end of 2018, and was penciled in to challenge for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 35 the following year against Daniel Bryan, before injury forced plans to change.
Thanks to Wrestling Inc for the transcription
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