I’ve never seen a Mustafa Ali interview that he didn’t knock out of the park, and his appearance on The Bump this morning (Oct. 13) was no exception.
Ali’s in character, promoting his angle with Mansoor and their upcoming match at Crown Jewel. He manages to both passionately explain the significance of two men of Arab descent getting a spot on the most meaningful show WWE’s ever held in Saudi Arabia, while also refocusing their storyline on the conflict between his jaded character and Mansoor’s optimistic one.
Explaining why his character is bitter takes us into worked shoot territory, as what Ali describes is an accurate account of WWE history. And it’s possible (likely even... I know I’d be a cynical bastard if I were him) it’s made him as frustrated as his character. Those stretches of the interview are basically his version of a pipe bomb, albeit one that happened on YouTube instead of at the end of Raw. And that also goes to his point about how he’s treated.
“I know I’m supposed to tell you that, yeah, SmackDown [where he was moved in the recent WWE Draft] is the land of opportunity. I don’t believe any of that crap. I don’t believe there’s opportunities here. I believe it’s all an imaginary thing. Because when you look at a guy like me, a guy that checks off all the boxes, where are my opportunities? ... Oh, I’m sorry, you’re right. I’ve had opportunities, right? Until Randy Orton took me out and I missed Elimination Chamber. But then I got the Money in the Bank spot, right? And then Brock Lesnar... a guy that’s not even in the match comes out and just pushed me off the ladder - where’s the hashtags for that? Where’s the #JusticeForAli? So no, I don’t believe in opportunities here...
“I think I’m the most unheard voice in the history of WWE. I will look right here [stares into the camera]. With zero hesitation in my voice, with no flinch whatsoever, I will say - pound for pound, I am the most underutilized talent in this company’s history. Does that put it into perspective for you?
“... here’s the thing, I speak many languages, and one of them is the truth, and I know that’s a foreign language, especially around the WWE Universe. But the truth is, I’ve been good. I’ve been great this entire time. All it is is an opportunity that I’m asking for. And when I do have those opportunities, some outside intervention always just seems to show up conveniently.
“You mentioned one person did a hashtag, #JusticeForAli. Listen, I’m that same guy that came back from a serious, almost career-ending injury in weeks, and all I heard was, ‘Kofi, Kofi, Kofi,’ night in and night out. And yeah, I’ve moved on, I’ve moved on. I’m just rehashing here. Same thing at Money In The Bank. The next night, they were dancing with Brock [Lesnar]. Where was #JusticeforAli then? Time and time again. So no, I’m not looking for anyone’s support. I don’t want anyone’s support. Because I know the only thing I need is an opportunity. I’ll handle the rest.”
Will he ever get the opportunity that injury and (the admittedly awesome and equally important) KofiMania deprived him in 2019? Or the one a last minute booking change took from him later that year? If he does, I have no doubt he’ll knock it out of the park. Because I think there’s a good chance he’s right. The failure to give another meaningful push to a man who is equally talented in the ring and on the microphone, who’s part of an underrepresented population, with a compelling life story, and who’s proven he’ll work overtime to get any angle over?
That does make him the most underutilized talent in WWE history.