WWE Raw star Mustafa Ali has recalled what he was told by Vince McMahon when he asked why he wasn’t being used on TV.
Despite his ability and popularity, Mustafa Ali went through several months of not being used on WWE TV in 2020, despite being in the WWE Championship picture less than a year earlier.
Speaking with Metro.co.uk, Ali explained that he reached a point where, instead of wondering why he wasn’t being used, he had to get the answer from the big man himself.
“‘Even pre-pandemic, I was struggling to maintain television presence – and I know it was all character based. When you pitch a million and one ideas as far as stories, characters, promos, this and that – and you always get told that you’re good, but then nothing happens – you start pointing the finger at everybody except for you.
“After sitting at home for seven months and then finally coming back to Monday Night Raw, only to pick up a few victories and then to go back to not being on Monday Night Raw and now being stuck on Main Event, you’re kinda scratching your head.
“Like, what have I gotta do? And then you realise, you’ve gotta go ask the hard questions. I went up to Vince McMahon himself and said, ‘What am I missing?’. (He said), ‘Too polished, too clean, too nice, I don’t know if you have it in you!'”
Mustafa Ali then detailed how he was ‘auditioning’ for a heel turn through his matches on Main Event, and then with some promos in McMahon’s office. He added:
“I’ll still be presented as a babyface, I’ll still come out with the same look, I’ll still shake the guy’s hand at the end of the matches. But there’s a moment in the match where I’ve just had enough. And I did it! If you go back and watch these Main Event matches before I was revealed as the leader of RETRIBUTION, those were actually me auditioning to turn heel.
“Once he was satisfied with those (matches), I started cutting promos for him. I would go into his office, I would cut a promo on him, this and that.”
With his new gritty persona, Ali was soon revealed to be the leader of RETRIBUTION, which he suggested McMahon knew “well in advance”, before saying:
“I didn’t know, because I’d never asked – I didn’t say, ‘Hey I wanna be with RETRIBUTION’. I was just auditioning for my own thing. The day of the reveal is when I found out.
“I was thinking about going this way, but they went this way. At the end of the day, it was an opportunity to be on TV on Monday Night Raw weekly for multiple segments. That’s leaps and bounds from what I was doing the year prior.
“I did the best that I could with what I was given, there was a lot of amazing talent in that faction. As with everybody – this is what I tell people – everybody could be so much more.
“Top to bottom of the roster, whether it’s the main event or the opening act, everyone is capable of so much more. That’s why they’re in WWE – they are capable.
“But sometimes things take priority and we have to do the bare minimum sometimes, but even with that, the bare minimum, you’re expected to over deliver on that. So, we did the best we could with what we were given.”
The group has now completely disbanded with Ali currently feuding with Mansoor and set for a match against him at Crown Jewel today, MACE and T-BAR having just been separated in the WWE Draft, and Mia Yim (RECKONING) and Shane Thorne (SLAPJACK) having been off TV since the group split in March.
Ali recently tweeted that his earnings from today’s Crown Jewel show in Saudi Arabia will be donated to charity.
As of tomorrow (October 22), Ali will be on SmackDown following the WWE Draft earlier this month.