Despite never winning the Cruiserweight championship, Mustafa Ali earned his nickname as the Heart of 205 Live. With a wealth of talent and an inspirational backstory, he rose from unsigned alternate in the Cruiserweight Classic tournament to new SmackDown Superstar.
Fresh off the announcement he’d be moving to the blue brand full-time, Ali pinned WWE champ Daniel Bryan in a tag team main event. A dustup over the last move of that match not going to plan blew over, and now the company’s given his Dec. 17 official main roster debut the “Day of...” video treatment.
Like all WWE productions, and Ali’s career to this point, it’s very good. It also leaves us wondering, what are the company’s plans for Mustafa Ali?
We’ve gotten our hopes up about promotion’s from the broadcast brands before, only to have them dashed (or take a really long time to come to fruition), but the rollout of Ali these last few weeks - from his surprise challenge of Bryan in a single match on Dec. 10 to the above video - feels like a big deal. He brings a character and in-ring & mic skills which have proven to connect with the hardcore fanbase, and the company seems to think can connect with the larger WWE Universe, too.
And frankly, he fills a niche no one else does for a global enterprise like The ‘E. A charismatic, handsome Pakistani-American who’s a devout Muslim and former police officer is a marketable asset to have in your 21st century promotional tool kit.
So how high can Mustafa Ali go on the main roster? Landing on SmackDown is a good sign, as he has a better chance of standing out on the “workhorse” brand than Raw’s more sports entertainment-focused variety show. In the ring with main eventers like Bryan, AJ Styles and Miz, he won’t seem as outsized as he might if he was called on to work with Braun Strowman or Brock Lesnar.
This seems to me like it could be the next step on a Rey Mysterio-esque career for Ali. But I may be biased, as I have the Chicagoan down as one of my favorite performers from any company over the last couple years.
So I put it to you, Cagesiders. What do you see in Mustafa Ali’s WWE future?