Mustafa Ali spoke with The Express Tribune on WrestleMania, his 2013 WWE tryout, and getting a spot on 205 Live. Here are some of the highlights:
Getting turned down by WWE in 2013:
"I don't think people really realize how insane it is that I'm in the position I am in today. Prior to the Cruiserweight Classic, I had a tryout with WWE in 2013 and was told that I wasn't what they were looking for at the moment."
The difficulty he had getting a spot on 205 Live after being an alternate on the Cruiserweight Classic (losing in the first round):
"Almost everyone else on the roster was well traveled and better known, competing in some of the biggest independent companies all over the world. I didn't have that. I didn't have a Ring of Honor run, I didn't compete at [PWG Battle of Los Angeles]. I was a guy that stayed close to my local independent scene in Chicago because I simply had to. My family depended on my income, so my 'real job' [as a policeman] took priority. So I had to work really hard just within the show to prove that I was worth everyone's time and that I could compete with these international stars. Now, you can't talk about 205 Live without mentioning my name."
Ali's mindset before his WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match against Cedric Alexander at WrestleMania and getting a pep talk from his friend / WWE Referee Jason Ayers:
"So when I was getting ready to compete at WrestleMania, all of that was hitting me at one time. I'm about the fulfill a lifelong goal of competing at the grandest stage of them all. How many millions of people are watching this? What if I mess up? I'm the first guy of my background to compete at this stage. How many kids that look like me and have a name like mine are watching? Will this be a moment that inspires them?
"[Jason Ayers] was nearby and could see something was a little off and walked over. He reminded me what I was trying to do, how I was going to be the guy to knock down barriers, and preconceived ideas of what a guy that looks like me is supposed to represent so that others don't have to deal with it. He reminded me about my family and that right now this isn't about me. It's about getting the job done, it's about fighting for others. And with that simple talk, I snapped out of it and went into work mode. So no, I didn't get to really sit there and absorb it all, it was straight work mindset."
Ali also discussed the 205 Live roster and breaking down barriers. You can check out the full interview by clicking here.