One of the best all-around performers in the WWE today, Mustafa Ali has been successful enough as a 205 Live performer that he recently made his Smackdown debut. One of two main reasons for Ali’s career upswing, he is so sincere and passionate that many fans can’t help but root for him. On top of that, it would be an understatement to say that he has proven himself to be great in the ring.
Considering that it has quickly become evident that Mustafa Ali is the total package, due to other factors like his fantastic entrance gear, it seems like career wise he would be very confident. However, he recently appeared on an episode of the Chasing Glory with Lilian Garcia podcast and revealed that is not the case. In fact, according to Ali, his anxiety got the best of him prior to arguably the biggest match of his career so far.
“The one time it really got to me was WrestleMania 34,” Ali said. “It was a pre-show match, but still, it’s WrestleMania, and they told me there’s like 2 million viewers on the pre-show and they told me that John Cena is going to be watching ringside so try to do your best. It’s all this stuff. It’s the Cruiserweight Championship with me and Cedric Alexander in New Orleans, Louisiana. I was having anxiety, and there was a moment with 10-15 minutes before we were up and I was wearing a new debut costume, everything was ready in my head, and I don’t want to say it was a panic attack, but the anxiety got to me and I was freaking out.”
Ali said that referee Jason Ayers, who has been a good friend of his for a long time, gave him a pep talk that helped to calm him down.
“I told [Ayers] that it is getting to me and I start going on about me; what if I screw up? What if I fall? What if I choke?” Ali recalled. “He looked at me dead in the eye and he said that this was the first time he has ever heard me talk about myself. He said, ‘You know that you are about to go out there and kill it for your family: for your daughter, for your son, so that you can get this money and you can take care of them and also what you stand for. For your message and everything that you are fighting for is right now, so get your head in the game.’ He may have used some expletives in there too but when he said that it was like, absolutely.
“I don’t think I even thanked him I just walked away and went straight into autopilot and had a WrestleMania moment, and even though I didn’t win the Cruiserweight Championship, but maybe next year, we’ll see. That is the only time where the pressure got to me after 16 years of wrestling.”
Alexander went on to defeat Ali at the event. Ali made his SmackDown debut earlier this month, and pinned WWE Champion Daniel Bryan in a tag team match on last Tuesday’s show.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.