Spotlight: Mustafa Ali
Shining the spotlight on a very talented Cruiserweight.
The WWE Cruiserweight Classic was a tremendous tournament that was held last summer in order to create some new original content for the WWE Network, as well as introducing these talented, lighter wrestlers to the masses.
Sure, there were guys like Akira Tozawa, Kota Ibushi, Zack Sabre Jr., and Gran Metalik in the tournament: guys whose reputations preceded them, but one of the standouts of the first round of the tournament to me was someone that I’d never heard of: Mustafa Ali.
In the CWC, Ali had a very good match against Lince Dorado. Even in defeat, Ali looked great and made an indelible impression on anyone who watched his match. I was very excited when I heard that he had signed on with WWE once they decided to bring the Cruiserweight Division back on a full-time basis.
Ali made his first appearance on the third episode of 205 Live, again wrestling Lince Dorado. The two men wrestled to a double count-out, but the match wasn’t the most intriguing thing.
In his pre-match promo, Ali explained that because of his name and his home country of Pakistan, fans had already made their mind up about him before he said or did anything. I was blown away by this take on a character in wrestling, and shocked in a good way.
I was all for this gimmick but wondered how well it would come across with his flashy in-ring style. On the fifth episode of 205 Live, taped from Chicago, Illinois, they would use the fact that he was from Chicago to do an about-face and turn him into a face.
While I understand the reasoning for the change – Neville had returned the previous Sunday and was doing a similar gimmick focused on discrimination because of the way he talks and looks.
I was disappointed that the talented 30-year-old wouldn’t get an opportunity to run with a story that I really thought had legs for him. Much more so than it does for Neville.
Regardless, he got a great reaction when they announced that he’s actually from Chicago, and was able to showcase his flashier style before his opponent suffered an injury, causing the match to end prematurely.
He cut a brief promo after the match talking about how he was wrong about the fans and was going to earn their respect.
Two weeks ago on 205 Live, he wrestled Noam Dar in what I thought was a tremendous match for the time they were given. The crowd was very lacklustre before this match, but they came alive during it and seemed to really get behind Ali.
He didn’t get any promo time on this show, but I felt like his performance spoke for itself. He hit a nice leaping Tornado DDT and finished the match off with his beautiful Inverted 450 Splash.
If they continue to allow Mustafa Ali to shine in the ring like he’s capable of, and he continues to become more comfortable in the WWE style, I feel like the sky is the limit for him.
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